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Courtesy of Barcelo Bávaro Beach Resort

All-inclusive resorts take the effort out of vacationing—you pay upfront, you don’t have to make an itinerary, and you have access to great food and entertainment onsite. But, all-inclusive resorts have a few other advantages over the traditional resort experience. Here are five things that might surprise you about all-inclusive resorts.

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Backyard_Firepit_in_Snow_Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe

Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe

If your husband, girlfriend, friends, or family members love to ski and snowboard — but you’d rather have a root canal than slide down a steep hill with plastic sticks on your feet — you just need to rethink what a vacation to a snowy, slope-y destination can truly entail. Many resorts these days offer gourmet food, trendy bars, and spas galore, and the destinations below allow you to turn a ski trip into a getaway you’ll actually enjoy.

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620 - British Museum - Kaitlin Larese

Kaitlin Larese

Even with the dollar gaining strength, visiting London can still be expensive for Americans. But this capital city is no less an easy and memorable trip. While we certainly recommend popular paid attractions like the London Eye and London Aquarium for first-timers, there are also plenty of free things to do for hours so that a trip here won’t cost a fortune. With multi-generational travel on the rise and London being a popular extended vacation — perfect for those school breaks — here’s an affordable guide to the city for all ages.

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D Hotel del Coronado – Facebook

Facebook/Hotel del Coronado

We love lacing up our skates in the winter — it’s a great way to stay active and warm up even as the temps drop below freezing. Even more, we love doing so at rinks with great views, whether it’s mountain vistas, starry skies by the beach, or historical monuments in the background. Here are some of our favorite places to try to land that triple axel. (Remember to layer up and bring some thick socks!)

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C Brian Munoz leavenworth.org Leavenworth Washington

Take time this holiday season to stop and smell the chestnuts roasting on an open fire – literally. In cities around the country, December becomes a feast for the senses with electric light shows, warm music, and even warmer drinks. From millions of twinkling lights and festive treats to a cookie treasure hunt, here are five of our favorite holiday strolls that deliver a delightful winter escape.

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Yellowstone National Park - stargazing - by National Park Service-Neal Herbert - 620

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.

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McAdenville - north carolina - Flickr-Annie Hall

Postcard holiday scenes often involve beautiful blankets of white snow, evoking images of cozy northern towns and ski resort havens. But who would have thought that regions like California’s Newport Beach, or the southern town of Woodstock in Virginia, are teeming with holiday cheer this time of the year, too? Here, a few surprising destinations for getting into the holiday spirit.

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1Hershey Park

Shorts and sunscreen have been replaced with jackets and scarves, and theme parks across the country have suited up to take the winter weather in stride. The gates are open for one last hurrah of the year as these parks offer the best of the holiday season. Warm up with the festive glittering lights, re-themed rides, seasonal treats, and, of course, the treasured opportunity to meet Santa. Though some of the bigger rides of these parks are closed for the winter, exploring the all-encompassing holiday worlds built in these parks is the main attraction.

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Isla Saona

Tourists flock to Punta Cana for snow white beaches, aquamarine waters, and never-ending rum drinks, but outside the resorts, you can immerse yourself in Dominican culture or experience the country’s tropical wonders. Here are five day trips from Punta Cana that you won’t want to miss — and that will get you back in time for some Latin dancing back at the resort.

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cakes - mickey - © Disney

One of the biggest assets that set Disney World apart from its competitors is the level of service the company delivers to guests. It’s no secret that the iconic resorts offers exclusive hours and transportation, but here are 10 lesser known services offered by the House of Mouse.

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CanopyPortlandLobbyImage_HR

Last month, Hilton Worldwide announced its latest foray into the lifestyle category with Canopy by Hilton, a new concept from the international hotel behemoth that will localize the guest experience. Poised to open its first set of doors in 2015, we spoke with Gary Steffen, the brand’s global head, who shared five things you should know about Canopy by Hilton.

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Georgia Coast - Caroline Eubanks

Georgia’s coast, between Savannah and the Florida state line, is dotted with barrier islands small and large, boasting luxury resorts as well as natural wilderness equipped with campgrounds. This is a part of the world where you won’t find the large tourist crowds that make Florida so popular. Here, four islands — accessible by small roads or boat — that feel almost tourist-free.

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4132910198_50b9d465b1_zThe 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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Grand Canyon - Tom Bricker

The Grand Circle — originally a loop to the Grand Canyon, Zion, and Bryce Canyon national parks — covers much of northern Arizona and southern Utah as well as portions of Colorado, New Mexico, and a sliver of Nevada. Unless you have weeks to explore the area and a hefty travel budget, you can’t even begin to see it all. So how do you tackle it on a budget?

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Flickr Coast Guard News2

National wildlife refuges — protected lands managed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service — offer many of the same recreational opportunities as national parks at a fraction of the cost. Some are even free, unless you plan to hunt, fish, or camp. We love these (mostly) gratis activities for experiencing the wilderness in a whole new way:

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