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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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Temecula Creek Inn Restaurant via TCI

Travelers love California for its amazing wine and golf offerings, but there are even more reasons to visit some of the state’s lesser known cities. About an hour outside of San Diego, Temecula appeals with a laid-back artisan culture and a focus on the natural landscape. A rental car is really all you need to explore — and here are five reasons why you should.

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cruise fix

Which cruise lines are making headlines this week? We’ve got the latest on luxury sales, a great idea for crowd-funding your next vacation, holiday itineraries, and more. 

Now here’s a great idea for newlywed travelers: Rather than asking for home appliances, why not have friends and family contribute to your post-nuptial trip? Princess CruisesHoneymoon Wishes Registry allows others to chip in for everything from cruise fare and shore excursions to specialty dining and drinks by the pool to relaxing spa treatments. All gifts are applied as an onboard credit to the couple’s stateroom account to use during their honeymoon cruise, and the bride and groom can create an accompanying website to share wedding details and personal photos.

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michigan island resized

As Michigan’s supremely serene and car-free getaway, Mackinac Island is characterized by the ubiquitous clip-clop of horse-drawn carriages and a history rich enough to excite any U.S. travel nerd. The island, which is accessed via ferry during the warmer months and snowmobile during the coldest months, offers so much in its relatively small 3.8 square miles of space, including a former military fort and several well-known hotels (you may have heard of The Grand Hotel, which was the setting of the film Somewhere in Time, starring Christopher Reeve). It also features too many fudge shops to count and a biking/walking circumference (Lake Shore Boulevard) that offers idyllic views of lighthouses and the often moody Haldimand Bay.

If you have just a weekend to spend on Mackinac, there are plenty of ways to get maximum mileage of this car-free getaway, and to experience the island as the Islanders do. Here are a few suggestions.

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Flickr Joe Turco2

Want the ultimate Disney vacation? There’s a way you can enjoy Mickey and friends on both land and sea: by combining a stay at a Walt Disney World hotel with a trip aboard Disney Cruise Line that embarks from Port Canaveral.

The easiest way to do this is to first book the cruise, then make your stay at Disney World an add-on with a Land and Sea Vacation package. But there are some caveats with this method of booking — here’s the dish on what you should know.

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casacalma wellness hotel - 620

It seems like “green” hotels are becoming more mainstream than ever before, with properties old and new adopting an overall ethos of eco-friendliness. But to the average traveler–someone who might not self-identify as environmentally conscious–what’s the real draw? Below, check out five hotels with perks that appeal to every type of traveler.

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DugJax

Disney World is for guests of all ages, despite what some folks might say. Little ones and kids-at-heart can both have a great time at the Orlando resort. Of course, for older guests, it might take a little tweaking, since a trip to the House of Mouse isn’t the senior’s textbook vacation. Here, 10 tips for making it work.

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Panoramic view from room balcony_sized

Home to just over 108,000 residents the small, multi-cultural island of Aruba draws visitors with its white-sand beaches and crystal clear waters. Its convenient location just outside of the hurricane belt also means there’s no bad time for an escape to this tropical paradise. Check out our slideshow of the island’s highlights here.

george eastman house 2 - christine weiFrequently a stopover on the way to the Niagara Falls, the town of Rochester in upstate New York deserves a few days of exploration, especially in fall. The city’s history as the birthplace of the Kodak company has paved the way for an under-the-radar but robust art scene, while a wealth of college campuses keep the dining and entertainment options fresh. And in October, there are endless opportunities for foliage peeping. Here’s what to do over a weekend in town.

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