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Where are the best trips to be booking right now? Our monthly Where to Go column tells you the smartest places to go each month for savings, special events, and all around great experiences. Here’s what’s hot for August.
For the Epic Long-haul Trip: Singapore
If you’ve yet to cross Singapore off the bucket list, now’s the time. Characterized by fantastic street food, urban greenery, and of course diverse culture, this Asian destination has become increasingly popular over the years. And August is one of the best times of the year to create an epic itinerary, thanks to the plentiful events packed into the month. Dive right into Buddhist and folk traditions during Ghost Month, when you’ll see locals making food offerings on the streets and hosting live stage performances meant to entertain the spirits. On the last two weekends of the month, street performers, local and international artists, and interactive light installations take over the city for the Singapore Night Festival. And that’s not to mention the International Festival of the Arts, running through most of August and into September, that hosts 36 theater, dance, and music performances for just $25-$50 SGD ($19-$37 USD) each.
After a relationship has tanked to the point of no return, there’s nothing quite like getting in the car — either by yourself or with a bestie or two — and taking your mind off everything on the open road. So queue up Tom Petty’s “Free Falling” and set the GPS for one of these epic post-breakup road trips.
Don’t let holiday prices keep you from traveling on Fourth of July weekend, which is spanning July 3-6 this year. Believe it or not, we’ve found fantastic deals across the country, even in the big cities. Whether your passion is arts and culture or the beach, we’ve got a bargain for you, all hovering around $200 per night and complete with sparklers, fireworks, parades, outdoor-grilling, movies by the pool, and other festive events.
You may not see cowboys and gunslingers walking the streets of these small American towns, but they embody the true spirit of the Old West. And they’re not all in Texas, either. In no particular order:
1. Steamboat Springs, Colorado
The Yampa Valley, including Steamboat Springs, has a long history of rodeo and working ranches that you can still experience today. For an extended ranch stay, try Elk River Guest Ranch or Vista Verde Guest Ranch. Or, if you only have a few hours, move those “little doggies” along on a morning cattle drive at Saddleback Ranch.
Located in south central Arizona, less than 20 miles east of Phoenix, Mesa has all the diversions a traveler would want from the Southwest. You’ll find everything from outdoor playgrounds to fine dining to an “agrihood.” Standing guard nearby, Superstition Mountains provide plenty of natural adventures, too, with jagged peaks separated by rock-filled canyons and covered with saguaro cacti that reach tree-like heights. But perhaps the most compelling reason to make this destination your base is that a visit to Mesa costs just a fraction of a visit to its big-city neighbors. Lodging rates here, for starters, are 60 percent lower here than in Scottsdale.
Here’s what else you need to know about a great Mesa escape:
Toss the snow shovel and grab the sunscreen! While most of the nation faces bitter cold and mounds of fluffy white stuff, these small town destinations offer moderate temperatures, plenty of sunshine, and a whole lot of fun.
Las Cruces, New Mexico: From wide open spaces to space exploration, Las Cruces has something for just about anyone. Sled down a hill of warm sand at White Sands National Monument, sample wines along the Rio Grande River, or get schooled Scovilles at the Chile Pepper Institute. Or, tour nearby Spaceport America, where the nation’s first space tourists will soon blast off. On your way, stop at Hatch –the birthplace of New Mexico’s infamous green chiles.
When your energy has been depleted by stress, seek out a healthy way to decompress in the comfort of a destination spa resort. Spa treatments, fitness classes, and health coaching can revive your spirits and reclaim your energy — and many of these activities are included in the cost. So power down your cell phone and power up on a retreat that will help you reconnect with your well-being.
Having trouble finding a place to stay over Super Bowl weekend, whether you have tickets to the big game, or just want to be close to the action? Although 4- and 5-star hotels have already sold out in the Phoenix area (and fewer than 10 percent of the remaining hotels have vacancies), there are still a fair number of rental properties available. HomeAway alone is listing more than 250!
Here’s a sampling of what’s available for Super Bowl:
Most vacations aren’t complete without a little shopping, whether for yourself or for friends and family back home, right?
A survey conducted by the U.S. Travel Association revealed 63 percent of travelers said their vacation wasn’t complete without including some shopping. For a one-stop shop experience, whether you’re looking for a gift for a loved one or a memento of your trip, museum gift shops hold the key. There you’ll find handcrafted, high-quality souvenirs, in a wide range of prices. We’ve gathered some suggestions from a few great museums. (Some items you can even order online without leaving home, but what fun is that?)
Phoenix has always been a popular winter destination, but this year it will be even more so as it hosts Super Bowl XLIX and the 2015 Pro Bowl. While you’ll probably need a small fortune to attend either event, Phoenix is one of the most affordable large cities in the nation. Here’s how to get the most bang for your buck in Phoenix, whenever you go.
Remember when it seemed like you could reach up and touch the Milky Way, the ribbon of stars that make up our galaxy? Thanks to light pollution, it’s becoming harder and harder to see — unless you get yourself out to dark and remote locales. Here are seven stargazing sites, all recognized by the International Dark Sky Association for their inky-black nights, that offer stellar views of the heavens above.
Ever wanted to relive the college experience but without the messy roommate and lousy food? Thanks to Graduate Hotels, you can. The recently opened collection of boutique hotels offers luxurious rooms with whimsical, university-themed touches, all within walking distance of vibrant college communities.
What’s your preferred stress-buster: pampering at the spa, or hopping on a pair of skis or surfboard? With this year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals, we say you’ll afford to do both. We found deals for surfing in Southern California, skiing in Telluride, spa-ing in the Arizona desert — and even for luxury touring in Chile.
Just 30 minutes north of Scottsdale, is a sunshine-filled retreat with all the perks: hiking, spa, fine dining, and golf. We’re talking, of course, about The Boulders, Waldorf Astoria Resort — an award-winning property nestled among the granite boulder formations in the community of Carefree. If you’re angling for a pre-holiday warm-weather getaway, you’re in luck. This November 30 through January 3, 2015, rates have been reduced to as low as $229 per night.
The best things about birdwatching? You can do it at almost any time of the year, it can be a relaxing break from a packed travel itinerary, and it’s often a fairly low-cost activity. With migratory birds on the move or already at the their winter habitats, now is the perfect time to grab a pair of binoculars (and field guide) and explore some of the nation’s best bird watching destinations. Here are some of our favorites…
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