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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.
The next time you have a day off, head to the airport. These seven airport museums dedicated to aviation are destinations in their own right — and also make for great entertainment if you’re ever stranded with delays.
The 1940 Air Terminal Museum (William P. Hobby Airport, Houston)
Housed in the Art Deco building that served as Houston’s original airport, the 1940 Air Terminal Museum ($5) explores Houston and Southeast Texas’ role in aviation. The focus is mainly on civil aviation, including commercial flight. Expect to see uniforms for pilots and stewardesses, dinnerware, playing cards, and other airline memorabilia. The museum’s hangar has a small collection of business and commercial planes. Tip: After you’ve visited the museum, find a seat on the benches out back and watch aircraft take off from Hobby Airport. Or, pick a spot in the museum parking lot and watch for free. (Just let museum staff know what you are doing and how long you plan to be there.)
For the ultimate winter adventure, take to the backwoods on a sled, driven by your very own team of Alaskan Huskies. Best suited for the physically active, these top five dogsledding trips guarantee thrills over frozen lakes, deeply wooded trails, and endless horizons of snow and sky. Read more
Big Cedar Lodge is situated in the Ozark Mountains — Ridgedale, Missouri, to be precise. The area is a nature lover’s paradise, replete with swaths of dense forest, overlooking 43,000-acres of Table Rock Lake’s blue-green waters. It’s is billed as “a wilderness resort,” founded by Johnny Morris, the owner of Bass Pro Shops. It makes perfect sense that this would be a haven for the outdoor aficionados. We checked in at Big Cedar Lodge, and here’s what we loved most. Read more
Santa Fe, New Mexico, is known for its luxury hotels, fine dining, high-end spas, and art galleries. While this all may come at a price, there are plenty of things to see and do in Santa Fe that are nearly — if not totally — free. Here’s a rundown.
The parades are just as colorful, the costumes just as lavish, and the music and food are just as non-stop. But Mardi Gras in Lake Charles, Louisiana is more civilized (and more suitable for all-ages fun) than the bigger and more famous one in New Orleans, just 90 minutes away. Here are the highlights of the celebration, plus the multitude of things to do, eat, and drink beyond the festivities.
Can’t wait for the Jurassic Park sequel, “Jurassic World,” to hit theaters in June? Have your own prehistoric adventure at one of these fun-packed dinosaur destinations.
The Field Museum, Chicago
Home to “Sue,” the largest, best-preserved, and most complete Tyrannosaurs rex ever found, The Field Museum is a must see for budding paleontologists and adventurers. After you’ve gawked at Sue’s 42-foot long frame and 58 dagger-like teeth, explore the museum’s dinosaur collection, part of the Evolving Planet exhibit. $31 adult, $25 students, $21 children 3-11.
The Blue Ridge Parkway, which runs between Virginia and North Carolina, is one of the country’s most scenic drives. The 105-mile road was built by the Works Progress Administration and Civilian Conservation Corps under President Franklin D. Roosevelt — taking more than 52 years to complete and encompassing over 11,000 square miles of land. We suggest spending at least a few days driving the parkway, stopping in the small towns along the way to soak up the Appalachian Mountains’ art, culture, and music. Here are nine highlights to consider for your itinerary.
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.
Fans of the King of Rock and Roll often flock to Graceland — but it isn’t the only place where the crooner is memorialized.
The Mississippi city of Tupelo, where Elvis Presley was born, celebrates its native son year-round, especially on his birthday, January 8.
This year, which would have marked the King’s 80th, will be extra festive with three days of events. The annual birthday party at the Elvis Presley Birthplace Museum, with free birthday cake, is followed by a sing-along of songs in Elvis movies at the Link Centre theater. The Elvis love-in continues with a special performance of the North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra on Saturday, and the play “Graceland” about his life after Tupelo. The Gumtree Museum of Art opens an Elvis-themed art exhibit.
Tupelo is in the middle of the 444-mile Natchez Trace Parkway, the National Scenic Trail linking Natchez to Nashville that began as a Native American trail. There are nature trails, swamp bogs, remains of pioneer homesteads and graveyards, and Indian mounds along the route. The trail’s headquarters are in Tupelo, and the Parkway Visitor Center is just about the only thing in town that isn’t Elvis-related. Read more
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.
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.
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.
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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