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Marijuana Tourism in Colorado, Northern Lights Time Crunch, and More: Today's Travel Briefing | Frommer's FreeImages/Dave Dyet

Marijuana Tourism in Colorado, Northern Lights Time Crunch, and More: Today's Travel Briefing

A roundup of travel news from all over
Good morning! Here are the latest happenings from the world's cities, tourism boards, and frozen wastes.

* ONLY 12% OF VISITORS IN COLORADO USE MARIJUANA, SAYS STATE TOURISM OFFICE (Westword). As our own Arthur Frommer pointed out recently, legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in Colorado has increased the number of visits to the state—but not by as much as you might think, according to the Colorado Tourism Office.
 
At a conference this week, state officials announced the results of a survey conducted by a market research company that found just 12% of visitors reported stopping in at a marijuana dispensary while they were in Colorado. Additionally, 64% of those surveyed said that marijuana had no influence on their decision to visit the state, while only 5% said it was the main reason.
 
The survey also found that those who did choose to partake were just as active as those who didn't—engaging in sightseeing, festivals, museum tours, and so on.
 
But visiting tokers were 60% more likely to end up in the emergency room than locals, possibly due to a lack of education about how to use the drug safely or a tendency to overindulge while on vacation.
 
As you consider these numbers, it's worth remembering that state officials have been reluctant to embrace the idea of marijuana tourism. Before we make conclusions about pot's true impact on Colorado travel, we could use some additional research from more disinterested parties. 
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* IF YOU WANT TO SEE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS, THIS IS THE WINTER TO DO IT (Travel + Leisure). 

 

(Photo: FreeImages/Dave Dyet)

If seeing the Northern Lights is on your bucket list (and why wouldn't it be?), this winter could be the best chance you'll get until the middle of the 2020s, according to experts.
 
The best time to see the natural spectacle in any year is from September to March in the Arctic Circle. But how bright the lights are depends on where the sun is in its approximately 11-year weather cycle. 
 
Sunspots cause the display, you see, and there are more sunspots—and consequently brighter Northern Lights—when the sun's cycle is at the point called solar maximum.  
 
That happened in 2014. 
 
But since the period of peak displays continues for two or three years afterward, we're coming to the end of glorious Northern Lights shows for now, as the sun sinks toward solar minimum and the cycle starts all over again.
 
The last solar minimum in 2008 and '09 resulted in pitiful displays—so get yourself to the Arctic while there's still time.
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* PART OF PRAGUE'S DANCING HOUSE NOW A HOTEL (Associated Press). Prague's iconic Dancing House—which features two towers of glass and concrete that appear to be cutting a rug on the banks of the Vltava river—has been off limits for many visitors to the Czech capital because the building has been been used primarily for office space. 
 
But now part of the unique edifice has been turned into a hotel. 
 

(Photo: Pedro Szekely/Wikimedia Commons)

And owing to the prime location of the towers—nicknamed Fred and Ginger, as in Astaire and Rogers—guests are in for some excellent views of the city from the hotel's 21 rooms; the building offers an especially good vantage point for checking out Prague Castle.
 
Prices start at 180 euros (US$201) per night.
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Our Travel Briefing appears each weekday morning, Monday to Friday. Catch up on past installments by clicking here. For more updates, as well as vacation photos and travel tips, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
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