Chernobyl Miniseries Prompts 35 Percent Spike in Travel to Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

iStock/fmajor
iStock/fmajor

Since HBO released the first episode of Chernobyl on May 6, the miniseries has grown into a sensation, receiving glowing reviews and surpassing The Wire and Breaking Bad to become the top-rated show on IMDb. After watching the chilling recreation of the 1986 nuclear disaster, many viewers had the same question: Is the Chernobyl exclusion zone open to visitors? It is, and as CNN reports, tourism there has risen 35 percent as a result of the show.

Following the explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant's RBMK reactor 33 years ago, a 2500-square-mile exclusion zone was established around the disaster site. Radiation levels are nowhere near where they were in 1986, but the vegetation, buildings, and wildlife in and around Pripyat, Ukraine are still radioactive. It isn't safe to live there, but by signing up for a tour you can visit the area surrounding the power plant.

Victor Korol, director of the tour company SoloEast, said that bookings for trips to Chernobyl have spiked 35 percent since the miniseries premiered. He told CNN, "It's almost as though they watch it and then jump on a plane over."

A day tour of Chernobyl costs $99. Once inside the exclusion zone, adventurers can explore the town of Pripyat, which was abruptly evacuated in 1986; stand under the Ferris wheel at the abandoned amusement park, and see the infamous nuclear reactor (safely enclosed in a steel structure to contain radiation) from an observation point 1000 feet away. Though the company says day trips to Chernobyl are "100 percent" safe, guests are asked to stick to approved routes, wear clothing that provides maximum coverage to their bodies, and avoid touching buildings and shrubbery to keep radiation exposure to a minimum.

If you can't make it to Ukraine to see Chernobyl, or aren't interested in being exposed to even mild levels of radiation, you can check out photos taken inside the exclusion zone from the safety of your home. You can also learn more about what it's like to visit here.

[h/t CNN]

Florida to Open Its First-Ever Snow Park

Zuberka/iStock via Getty Images
Zuberka/iStock via Getty Images

Millions of tourists flock to Florida each year to ride roller coasters, meet their favorite cartoon characters, and lounge on the beach. The state isn't famous for its winter activities, but that could soon change. As WESH 2 reports, Florida's first-ever snow park is coming to Dade City in 2020.

At Snowcat Ridge, guests will be able to take part in the same snowy fun that's up North. The main attraction of the park will be a 60-foot-tall, 400-foot-long slope packed with snow. A lift will transport visitors to the top of the hill, and from there, they'll use inner tubes to slide back down to ground level. Single, double, and six-person family tubes will be provided to riders.

Guests can also check out the 10,000-square-foot play dome, where they'll use real snow to build snow castles and snow men. The area will even feature a small hill for young visitors who aren't ready for more serious snow-tubing. And because the best part of playing in the snow all day is warming up afterwards, Snowcat Ridge will be home to an Alpine Village, where guests can nibble on snacks and sip cocoa in front of a bonfire.

Dade City is located in Central Florida, an area that hasn't seen snow in nearly 43 years. The arrival of the new park will mark the first time many locals can get a full winter experience close to home.

Snowcat Ridge is expected to open in November 2020.

[h/t WESH 2]

The New York Times's Latest Book on Travel Will Help You Plan the Perfect Weekend Getaway

TASCHEN
TASCHEN

Getting a full sense of a new city while traveling can be tough—especially if you only have a weekend to explore it. But since 2002, The New York Times’s "36 Hours" column has been breaking down destinations all over the world into bite-size pieces, allowing travelers to see the big attractions while still experiencing the city like a local. Now, you can get the best of the column's North American destinations with the fully updated and revised edition of 36 Hours: USA & Canada for $40 at TASCHEN or on Amazon.

Even if you have the original, it’s worth purchasing this updated copy, as this version features 33 new itineraries from Anchorage, Alaska; the Berkshires in Massachusetts; Boulder, Colorado; Miami; Oakland, California; Chattanooga, Tennessee; and many more.

36 Hours: USA & Canda from the New York Times
TASCHEN

The 752-page book also offers more than 5400 hours of travel itineraries, 600 restaurants to dine at, and 450 hotel options. Each city featured includes a brief history, a list of popular destinations, and tips on how to experience it all like a local. For example, the New Orleans guide encourages travelers to start at the French 75 Bar for happy hour and order a Sazerac, a cocktail close to an Old-Fashioned that's a local favorite. Whereas the Miami guide takes you to the Buena Vista Deli, a bistro known for its take on classic French dishes. The travel book also features detailed city maps that pinpoint all the stops, and it's accompanied by nearly 1000 photographs.

Once you've picked your destination, check out some tips on how to craft the perfect itinerary.

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