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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.
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.
Great food? Check. Incredible views? Check. Easy access? Well… you’ll have to work a bit for it. These seven back-country restaurants require patrons to board a snowcat or step into a pair of skis — but the effort will be totally worth it.
While skiers and riders embrace the feet upon feet of powder, there’s no arguing that snow sports are expensive. Besides passes, there’s also the gear and the lodging to take into account. Good thing early bird bookings means lodging and ski packages that allow you to save — so you’ll still have some money left over for airfare, meals, and entertainment. But hurry; some of these expire this week. Read more
The National Park Service, which turns 98 this August 25, will be celebrating by waiving admission to its parks across the country on its birthday. Tagged as “America’s Best Idea” in a PBS series for its part in preserving our natural landscape, the NPS now protects 84 million acres in all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.
Want to come back from vacation with more money in your pocket than when you left? Vegas, thankfully, isn’t your only option. In a few mining destinations across the U.S., finders are keepers. Plan a visit around these cities where you can hunt for treasure — and take home what you find.
Not just for summer, food festivals provide a year-round way for hungry travelers to sample a mouthwatering variety of dishes — without shelling out for a ton of meals out on the town. We’ve rounded up a few tasty celebrations and events across the U.S., from classic to quirky. The next time you want a taste of the local dining scene on a trip, here’s where to tempt your taste buds:
It’s no surprise that vacation rentals have stolen the hearts of savvy travelers everywhere. Great savings, extra amenities, even the chance to get some local advice…what’s not to love? The fact that HomeAway has hit one million listings — making its inventory almost twice the size of other similar companies — just comes to show how this once-alternative means of accommodation is going mainstream. To celebrate, we’ve rounded up five affordable rentals that you can book this summer and beyond, for a taste of something different:
1. Santa Teresa, Costa Rica: $80/night
For the design enthusiast, this Costa Rican rental delivers on one-of-a-kind digs with a futuristic, geodesic design. Sleeping four to five with two bedrooms spread over two floors, this villa is less than a five-minute walk to Santa Teresa Beah and the area’s shops and cafes. We recommend getting out early to beat the heat, then settling in for an afternoon siesta if the rain hits. And, don’t worry, the AC units are well-equipped to keep you cool. 4-night minimum.
Ever thought about strapping on some boots and hitting a dusty trail? At these three resorts, you can get a taste of the cowboy (or girl) experience while taking in some of the country’s most beautiful surroundings. Read more
UPDATE: Five national parks in Utah have re-opened, though the government shutdown remains in effect. CNN reports that since October is one of the busiest months for visitors exploring Utah’s stunning canyons, deserts, and million-year-old rock formations, the state has decided to fund the re-opening of five national parks (Arches, Bryce Canyon, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Zion), plus three other sites (Natural Bridges, Cedar Breaks national monuments, and Glen Canyon National Recreation Area) with its own money. The sites are scheduled to re-open fully on Saturday October 12 for at least the next 10 days, with plans to continue funding the parks if the shutdown drags on further.
Of the many facets of day-to-day life that will be directly affected by a government shutdown (healthcare, IRS, the military) that begins today, travel and tourism concerns are relatively low on the list. However, for travelers who booked their trip months ago – not to mention tourism offices who rely on those visitors actually showing up – the closures can seriously upset your plans. Though flight and hotel bookings (and, thankfully, public transportation) remain unaffected, some itineraries (especially to destinations in the Western U.S.) will have to be re-arranged entirely.
Of the thousands of worthy sightseeing spots in the U.S., 401 of them are national parks. These include everything from preserves like Florida’s Big Cypress Swamp to monuments like the Statue of Liberty to the massive, hugely popular Yellowstone National Park, which receives over 3.5 million visitors per year. A full database of sites can be found here. Below, we’ve compiled five of the most-visited national park sites, coupled with alternative sites you can visit instead. Read more
Oh, the difference a month makes. Even at the tail-end of March, most of the contiguous United States were still far too frosty for anyone to utter “spring” without sarcasm in their voice. But now, temperatures are rapidly rising, mountainous towns are finally thawing out, and roadways that have been closed for the winter are opening back up. Here are three of my favorite springtime road trips – they’re certainly worth a spin before summer swoops in, and if you’re looking to avoid the crowds. Read more
In life, being in the right place at the right time is often due to serendipity, but in travel, it almost always is a result of good planning. To avoid crowds and inflated prices, venture out between high and low seasons when the weather is fine, destinations are still welcoming travelers, and you can explore a locale at your own pace. We call this magical time and space continuum the Sweet Spot and make it a point to round up the best of them for you each season. We’ve covered the 40 best places to travel for spring value and grouped them by region – follow the links to the right to discover this season’s Sweet Spots, then search our travel deals to start planning your trip.
We’ve all been there – you make plans to hit the slopes during winter, you blink, and suddenly spring is at your doorstep. Warmer weather and longer days are no doubt ahead of us, but that doesn’t mean that blustery ski hills are being imminently shut down. You may have to look a little harder or drive a bit farther, but there are still excellent deals to be had when visiting high-elevation ski resorts that keep the powder flowing right on through April. Here are some of our favorites. Read more
When you were a kid, how great was that game “King of the Mountain?” If you missed out (or had parents who cared for your safety), the objective was simple: climb to the top of a large landmass – usually a hill or a pile of dirt – and remain at the peak as its “king,” all while combating shoving usurpers gunning for your title. Unless you wound up as the bruised and battered kid at the foot of the hill, it was a fun game. But standing atop a mound and christening it your kingdom is a childish lark. It’s not like you can claim an entire mountain for yourself nowadays, right? Well, with enough cash, becoming master of your very tall domain is actually a lot easier than you think.
A handful of ski resorts throughout the country are offering Own the Mountain packages – deals that, for a fee, allow you full, private access to the powder. Typically, exclusive mountain access can be acquired on a non-holiday, and can run a price tag of a few thousand dollars. That may seem like a hefty sum, but when divided equally among participants, the cost per skier on some mountains equates to a little more than the price of a daily lift ticket.
By: Alexander Basek
When those big, fat flakes start falling, it’s time to pull all the warm clothes out of storage and get ready for some winter activities. But if you’re not a skier, there’s no need to feel left out. Bundle up and head out into the snow with our 10 winter destinations for non-skiers. Our list covers adventurous pursuits like bobsledding and ice climbing, has a little something for animal lovers with dog sledding and snow monkeys, lets the hungry enjoy a king crab safari, and tops it all off with a great way to revel in the Aurora Borealis. Most destinations are in North America, but for those of you who yearn for international travel, we’ve thrown in a few far-afield places as well.
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