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USA Radio

2016 is the Perfect Year to Visit the USA

By M. Elise Giller

There's no better time in 2016 to visit these popular U.S. destinations than when they are holding major events or iconic seasonal celebrations. Here are 12 must-visit spots for each month of the new year.

January: Park City, Utah, for Skiing and Sundance Festival

Start the New Year off right by skiing the gorgeous, white slopes of Park City, Utah, one of the most popular ski areas in the country. Then head indoors to take in the latest independent films at the Jan. 21-31, Sundance Film Festival, one of the biggest — most star-studded — such events in the world.

February: New Orleans, Louisiana, for Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans have become famous for quirky and colorful traditions. The Big Easy throws one of the world's most fabulous street parties, with a series of colorful parades and other events culminating on Fat Tuesday on Feb. 9.

March: Washington, D.C., for Cherry Blossom Festival

Starting in early spring, thousands of delicate cherry blossom trees will bloom in D.C., transforming the nation's capital into a lush, pastel garden. Buildings throughout the city are lit in pink to celebrate the National Cherry Blossom Festival, scheduled for March 20 to April 17. The week also includes family events and boat cruises along the Potomac River.

April: San Juan, Puerto Rico, for Saborea Food Festival

Perhaps only one thing can make the beaches and tropical temperatures of Puerto Rico even more inviting: a world-class food pairing. The April 7-10 Saborea Food Festival showcases the island's most talented chefs with sampling events by day and special dinners and parties by night.

May: Louisville, Kentucky, for Kentucky Derby

Put on your fanciest hat and head to Louisville, Kentucky, on the first Saturday in May for the most famous horse race in the world: the Kentucky Derby. Known as “The Fastest Two Minutes in Sports," the May 7 event is the first of the Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing.

June: Chicago for Blues Festival

Bo Diddley, Keith Richards and Buddy Guy are just some of the legendary musicians who have played at the annual Chicago Blues Festival, which will take place from June 10-12, on thecity's scenic waterfront of Lake Michigan. The massive event bills itself as the world's largest, free blues festival.

July: Portland, Oregon, for Brewers Festival

With some 65 microbreweries, Portland, Oregon, is making a run for beer capital of the U.S. The Oregon Brewers Festival, held July 27-31, marks the perfect time to sample more than 80 craft beers from local and nationally known brewers.

August: Rockland, Maine, for Lobster Festival

The Maine Lobster Festival, set for Aug. 3-7 in Rockland, Maine, celebrates the peak seasonfor these tasty crustaceans. You can sample traditional New England-style steamed lobster and buttery lobster rolls, take part in the Great International Lobster Crate Race and witness the crowning of the event's Sea Goddess.

September: Burke, Vermont, for Fall Foliage

Burke, Vermont, with some 200 miles of trails for hiking and mountain biking, makes the perfect base for enjoying autumn in New England. The annual Burke Fall Foliage Festival, featuring a parade, craft show and live music, is held the last weekend in September.

October: Albuquerque, New Mexico, for the Balloon Fiesta

You know that fantastic feeling you get when you release a balloon and watch it float away? Now multiply that by 700, and get yourself to the Oct. 1-9, Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, the largest celebration of its kind in the world. Activities include hot-air balloon rides and a giant fireworks display.

November: New York City for Thanksgiving Day Parade

Familiar cartoon characters — in the form of six-story-high floats — will fly through Manhattan during the annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on Nov. 24. Afterward, enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner of turkey, stuffing and pie at casual spots, such as Hill Country Barbecue, or upscale restaurants, like Cafe Boulud.

December: Honolulu, Hawaii, for Surfing's Triple Crown

Replace your cold, white Christmas with the pristine beaches of Honolulu, Hawaii. Visit in early December to watch the best surfers in the world compete at the Triple Crown of Surfingon Oahu's spectacular North Shore.

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