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January 2020

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Five Reasons Why: Los Angeles

May 29, 2019
More than 50 million people visited Los Angeles last year, according to the city’s convention and visitor bureau. That’s 50 million trips to the beach, walks along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and meals at In-n-Out Burger (at least!). But L.A. has much more to offer the traveler than crowded tourist traps. For your donors whose most recent interaction with the city was watching Steve Martin’s satirical “L.A. Story,” here are five reasons why today’s Los Angeles is a top travel destination.

The Weather: Yes, it really is that nice in Los Angeles. Highs in the winter are in the high 60s, with average summer highs never topping 85 degrees. It’s consistent enough that much of what people do in the city is outdoors, whether it’s the dozens of farmers markets, the outdoor malls, and even outdoor movie screenings at places like the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

The Stars: Of course, the center of the film universe is where to go to spot celebrities, at famous haunts like The Ivy restaurant or the hottest nightclubs. But it’s also a place where the stars can be seen doing what they love in smaller spaces; the Largo, a comedy club and performance space, is famous for having celebrities drop in as “special guests” for their shows to either do stand-up or music. And with the Grammys, the Emmys, the Oscars – even the ESPYs! –held either every year or, at least, often in Los Angeles, even out-of-town superstars find their way to the City of Angels.

The Food: Don’t look now, but modern-day L.A. can stand toe-to-toe with any other city in America when it comes to culinary scenes. Superstar chefs have restaurants here, and the sheer volume of international cuisine on offer is astounding (Asian food in the neighboring San Gabriel Valley might be the best this side of the continent itself). It’s also a scene that prides itself on the best of more common fare, as well; stop at any taco stand or burger joint for the type of quick-and-easy meals that are both inexpensive and satisfying.

The Beaches: From the packed sands of Santa Monica up to the more secluded dunes of Malibu, there’s a Los Angeles area beach for every donor. Public transit can now take visitors right to the Santa Monica Pier, with its iconic Ferris wheel and great views from local restaurants. A walk south takes supporters to the slightly more bohemian Venice Beach – your donors can even work out on Muscle Beach, the famed spot where a young Arnold Schwarzenegger used to pump iron.

The Architecture: Yes, Los Angeles used to have a reputation for tearing down its history (leading to the sarcastic line in the aforementioned “L.A. Story”: “Some of these buildings are over 20 years old.” But thanks to the work of local conservationists, the Art Deco and Beaux Arts history of downtown Los Angeles is more accessible than ever, and the remaining Googie buildings are being saved.

Race Through Memorial Day

May 22, 2019
There are any number of ways to celebrate Memorial Day. For some, it’s the first weekend of the summer and therefore is best spent at the beach. For others, it’s a solemn occasion worthy of a trip to pay respects. But Memorial Day is also one of the busiest days on a runner’s calendar, with fun runs, 5Ks, and even marathons taking place across the country.

We love Memorial Day races several reasons, but the biggest one might be their support of causes. For most of these competitions, either the entrants fundraise themselves or the organizers set aside the proceeds for worthy non-profits, especially those dealing with veterans’ issues. If you want to make your Memorial Day count for those in need, and you’ve got a set both of good knees and good lungs, consider traveling to one of these cities and taking on a challenge.

Chicago celebrates the start of summer (and the end of what can be an unpredictable spring) with the Soldier Field 10 Mile, which starts and ends at the titular stadium. Runners take off down the Lake Front Trail, essentially turn around and come back, finishing on the 50-yard line of the home of the Chicago Bears. Like the other events listed below, the fun might actually start after crossing the finish line; the post-race party takes place just outside the stadium with live music, concessions and a free “recovery beer” for each participant.

Not every race has to be road exclusive. In Austin, the Cap Tex Triathlon starts with a swim through Lady Bird Lake, bordering on downtown Austin, then switches to a bike course that heads straight through the Texas capital. Finally, the running shoes go on for a jog (or sprint) to and through Butler Park, ending on Vic Mathias Shores, along the banks of the Colorado River. If that sounds like a lot, there are three different races to try and accommodate everyone looking to try: The International competition is at standard triathlon distances of .93 miles of swimming, 25 miles of biking and 6.2 miles of running, while the SuperSprint cuts those down to a quarter-mile swim, 6.3 mile bike ride and a 3.1 mile run.

If your donors want a huge challenge, however, point them towards Maine. There, about an hour inland from Boothbay Harbor, is the Pineland Farms Trail Running Festival. Your supporter can take those running shoes off the hard concrete and race through the gorgeous hills of New England. Saturday features 5Ks, 10Ks and even a 5K “Canicross” run, where participants bring the dogs. But on Sunday, the effort goes through the roof, with three options – 25K, 50K and a 50-mile run that will test even your fittest donors. At those distances, there’s no doubt they’ll have earned their post-race barbecue and beer.

Summer Golfing

May 15, 2019
Golf is often thought of as a summer sport, one that can be played by cutting out of work early and taking advantage of the late-day sunshine only afforded during the season. But many of golf’s most hallowed destinations in America, places where there are as many courses as residents (think Palm Springs, Hilton Head, or several Florida cities), will test a player’s anti-perspirant as much as any swing in June, July, or August.

If you’ve got donors who want a golf-centric vacation but also want to keep the temperature cool, there are options. Some of our non-profit fundraising auction travel packages can take supporters to courses where summer might be the optimal time to play – or even the only option.

One place that combines stunning views with temperate summers is Monterey, California, which is just south of San Francisco. Our “Spectacular Coastal Golf Experience” package sends your auction winner to play the Del Monte Golf Course, which is not only beautiful, but also the oldest course still running west of the Mississippi River. In 2017, GolfAdvisor.com rated it third in the country for best off-course amenities, too, so if the golf gods aren’t being kind to a supporter’s game that day, there’s plenty else to do.

Quebec City averages in the 70s throughout the summer months and has plenty to offer everyone. But with our “Quebec’s Peaceful Soul and Picturesque Wonderland” package, it’s a city just up the coast that delivers the fix that golf fans need. Tre trip includes a stay at the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu in Charlevoix, along the St. Lawrence River, and the home course there features 27 holes of world-class golf. The three nine-hole courses run along the river, meaning scenic views for those walks in between strokes. And of course, summer is the best season to play it – because it’s nearly the only season on offer (unless snowshoes are the favored footwear).

But if there’s one summer golf “bucket list” trip, it’s to St. Andrews, Scotland. The town is often referred to as the “home of golf,” thanks to the historic Old Course at St. Andrews, thought to be the oldest one on the planet. The average high temperature there only breaks 60 degrees during the summer months, so even in July, it tends to boast perfect golfing weather. And our “Home of Golf” travel package will give donors the chance to play two different courses along the St. Andrews Bay. The trip also comes with an element of chance: the Old Course has a daily drawing for tee times. If your donor gets lucky, he or she could play what might be golf’s iconic links.

Traveling With Mom

May 08, 2019
Flowers die, chocolates get eaten, and knick-knacks end up in the backs of closets. So, what does your (and your donors’) mother want for Mother’s Day? It’s likely quality time. A 2018 survey taken by Peanut, a mom matching app, indicated that the plurality of mothers would like a “break from the mama routine,” with “a cool experience” coming in second.
Unless you’ve got some very wealthy children in your donor pool, the break may be less necessary by this point – most of your donors aren’t waking up in the middle of the night and yelling for mom to make the monster under the bed go away. But the cool experience? Your donors can give that to their mothers with a travel package they win at your gala fundraising auction. The gift of travel together is one of quality time and of memory making.
An international trip can be a wonderful bonding adventure for a mother and an adult child. And with so much history on display and Europe, your donors will have plenty to discuss along the way. See the sights of London, taste the wines of France, or savor the foods of Italy. And don’t forget other destinations, like Vienna or Budapest; once in Europe, all of the continent is on offer thanks to networks of trains crisscrossing the Old World.
Want your donors to be able to make the trip as stress-free as possible for mom? Think about offering an all-inclusive trip, like some of our adventures in Mexico. There’s no arguing about splitting the bill at an all-inclusive resort, because there is no bill; food is factored in to the auction price. Many activities are included too, so if mom wants that jet ski ride, she can do it.
Finally, cruises take the all-inclusive model and makes it mobile, taking passengers on all kinds of trips. As we mentioned last week, there are plenty of different destination options; if mom wants a truly relaxing experience, a Caribbean cruise might be the trip. If mom wants to take in some culture, your donors can take her through the southern Mediterranean. And if mom marvels at the wilderness, the scenic trip to Alaska has some of the most gorgeous scenery available. Mom can also go at her own pace; cruise ships themselves are delightful, so if one more excursion seems exhausting, there’s plenty to do on board.

Cruising for Culture

May 01, 2019
Bring up a cruise to a regular traveler, and the images are clear: Sunny skies, sunbathing on deck and wandering beaches on Caribbean islands.  But while the cloudless sky and poolside lay-outs can happen on any ship, it should be noted there are plenty of boat tours that don’t involve a beach, routes that take tourists to a variety of cities and even countries on a more cultural path.

We love both types of cruise at Mitch-Stuart, and if your donors are devoted beach-seekers, we’ve got plenty to options to satisfy them. But we’re equally infatuated with our options, both domestic and international, to send supporters to some of the world’s most interesting cultural sites via the luxury of a ship.

Just like several of our Caribbean cruises, we have offerings that stop in different countries throughout the old world. Our “Savor the Majestic Mediterranean” trip takes donors on a tour of Europe through its southern ports, stopping at places like Barcelona, Rome, and Monaco. In fact, the itinerary sometimes extends to countries like Croatia and Greece, as well! Between the top-notch accommodations and creature comforts of a Royal Caribbean International ship and the amazing works of architecture, art and natural beauty on offer during off-ship excursions, any passenger will find their schedules packed.

If the sights in France are calling your donors the loudest, there’s a cruise that will take them from city to city without ever leaving the country. France’s Rhone River is the setting for our “Luxury Cruising in Heavenly Provence and Camargue” package, which takes passengers to where Vincent Van Gogh painted 300 canvases in 1888, to Le Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct, and even to the cowboys of Camargue. Seeing as it’s a trip in France, there is also an expedition to a wine cellar on the schedule. Your supporters can even take a bike ride through Aramon, a literal ride through the French countryside.

Not all culture comes from Europe, though. With our “Alaska’s Majestic Frontier” cruise, your donors can explore the fishing villages along the Canadian coast, the dance halls of the gold-rush town of Skagway, and the history of Tlingit tribe in its ancestral home of Ketchikan. Add in the mix of cultural sights in Seattle or Vancouver, two of the most common embark ports, and there’s plenty to learn along the coasts of the Pacific Northwest (and points north).