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Ready to drive? America in fall is marvel: cooler weather and colorful foliage spread across the northeast; comfortably sunny days are the norm from Vegas to Miami; and there’s perfect hiking weather in the west. Over the past few months, we’ve highlighted dozens of destinations that are perfect for a road trip, whether you’re looking to discover a new beach in Florida, visit a winery in upstate New York, sail on Lake Tahoe, or delve into an American classic — the Grand Canyon. Here are some ideas that we hope will inspire you — and persuade you to fill up the tank and go.
If you think of Denver as a convenient gateway to an amazing mountain or nature trip, you’re right. For skiers and hikers, it’s the closest major city to such perennial favorites as Telluride, Aspen, and Breckernridge. But with breweries galore, a charming restaurant district, affordable hotels, and a mile-wide cultural streak, the Mile-High City is developing into a travel destination unto itself. Here’s how to eat and drink your way through this affordable, good-natured city. In fact, you may never even make it to the mountains.
We’re a fan of pay-as-you wish restaurants, both as a way to avoid marked-up prices and as a chance to give back to the destinations on our travels. Here’s how it works: nonprofit restaurants encourage customers to pay for their meal based on what they’re able to afford, and/or give free meals in exchange for volunteer work at the restaurant. For travelers who do have a meal budget, it’s nice to know that our dollars are going toward establishments that provide resources and job training for the local community, and you can always take it a step further by volunteering as well has making monetary donations if you have the time and desire (free meals are meant for those who really can’t afford to pay). A number of establishments in the U.S. have successfully adopted this model. Here are four across the country to check out the next time you hit the road.
The fastest-growing water sport in the world, stand-up paddling (also known as SUP) is an easy sport to learn, despite looking like you need to be a master of balance to even think about it. Sure, balance is an important element, but if you can walk down the street without falling over, you’ll usually be fine. Want to learn the basics on your next vacation? Here are the best places to try it out:
Colleges and universities aren’t just institutions of higher learning. Some of them are itinerary-worth destinations, even for those who haven’t stepped foot into a classroom for a long time, thanks to stunning architecture, fragrant gardens, impressive museums, and great history. Here are 10 schools that get an A+ on all these fronts.
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.
Vacation rental properties have been a complete game changer for travelers looking for homey, affordable places to stay. They’re a great way to save money, especially for families and larger groups, and they offer all the amenities of home. You can often cook your own meals and wash your laundry at no extra charge.
Summer’s the time to get out and get on the trail – but why share a popular hike with the massive crowds when there are more serene paths to follow? For an outdoors experience that truly allows you to appreciate nature in all its glory and in ultimate peace, here’s where you should go:
Summer means open-air movies in many of the world’s cities, but not all open-air cinemas are created equal. Here’s a roundup of eight of the very best al fresco movie theaters where the surroundings rival the drama on-screen. Read more
Talk about elevated views. We thought Canada’s Glacier Walk was exhilarating, but a new program in Colorado is taking daredevil adventures to new heights. Kent Mountain Adventure Center is helping visitors camp out up to 500 feet off – not on – the side of a cliff near Estes Park.
Here’s how it works: Groups of one to three can choose from three elevations of 100, 300, or 500 feet. You’ll learn beginner-friendly climbing basics for getting there, then help your guide set up a “portaledge” to hang over the side of the cliff, overlooking the mountains of the Roosevelt National Forest. Stay for a few hours and enjoy lunch, or even stay overnight. While the platform doesn’t have a railing, not to worry – you’ll be tethered the entire time, and your guide will be nearby in case you need help. Lunch and overnight rates are, respectively: $500 and $1,000 for one; $400 and $800 per person for two; and $300 and $600 per person for three.
Of course, you don’t have to be a fearless thrill-seaker to enjoy the great outdoors in Estes Park. Just a 90-minute drive from Denver, the region offers endless outdoor activities. Here’s what else you can do in Estes Park this summer:
There are lots of reasons to take the train: amazing views, no security lines, no need for GPS, and you can even stretch your legs or get a snack. But a big pitfall is that tickets can be pricey. That’s why we’re happy to see these Amtrak deals, which are available right now:
Not to be confused with Mexico’s Independence Day on September 16, Cinco de Mayo traditionally commemorates Mexico’s freedom from France. Today, May 5 remains one of the most notable occasions for recognizing the country’s rich history – and people use the day as a good excuse to celebrate Mexican heritage in all its finest forms, from mariachi to margaritas. Here, five cities across the U.S. with festive (and mostly free) celebrations.
Foraging is a culinary trend that isn’t going away, and it’s only getting bigger in travel. Many credit the movement to chef René Redzepi of Noma, the Michelin-starred restaurant in Copenhagen that frequently tops “Best in the World” restaurant lists. And it makes sense, especially at a time when travelers are seeking local and immersive experiences, the appeal of foraging for your own food is clear. It’s a fresh way to connect with a destination; it’s wonderfully tactile; and it’s a reminder of the wonders that nature has to offer.
These days, foraging in travel goes beyond reserving tables at a restaurant with an adventurous chef. More and more foraging tours and excursions have popped up in many locales. Here, we’ve rounded up some ideas and destinations to get you started. Just keep in mind that there are dangers in gathering your own food – including risk of illness if you eat the wrong thing – and the issue of sustainability in the harvesting process. That’s why we suggest that you always connect with a local expert or company that specializes in foraging; you’ll also want to know the local regulations and best practices. Read more
It’s no secret that Denver brews good beer, and lots of it. From Great Divide, to Oskar Blues, to New Belgium, the front range of the Rockies is calling itself the “Napa Valley of beer” these days. And given that it hosts one of the world’s largest beer events every year in October, we’d have a hard time disagreeing. Hitting a few pubs should be on the list of every traveler to the Mile High City, and these lesser-known city breweries taste something you can’t get elsewhere. Plus, you’ll earn bonus points with the locals. Read more
Skiing can be glamorous and exciting, and unfortunately, expensive. But as the season wears on, discounts start to pop up for both lodging and lift tickets. Since it looks like most of the major ski destinations will have snow through the beginning of April, here are a few deals to consider for a March trip. This is only a selection, so if your favorite destination isn’t listed, be sure to dig deeper at your favorite area or mountain to see what’s on offer.
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