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Itching to get away before the summer crowds flock to the nation’s most popular destinations? We’ve rounded up the best last-minute deals to urban centers across the U.S. and Canada, so you can explore the continent’s most popular cities while saving big bucks this spring. Read more
If you don’t know what Bulgaria, London, Milwaukee, Montana, and New Zealand have in common, it’s my pleasure to remind you that they’re all places some of my well-traveled colleagues identified as worthy family vacation destinations for 2012.
Given that a new year is upon us and my friends are still well traveled, I called on them again to identify destinations that family travelers might want to add to their short lists in 2013.
Kangaroo Island: Yes, Things Are Hopping There
If Hobbit tourism catches on the way John E. DiScala (aka the very frequent flier better known as Johnny Jet) predicted last year, the New Zealand town of Matamata will still be a destination to watch for 2013. If Tolkien travel is not your family’s thing, but you’re still intrigued by the Southern Hemisphere, DiScala has another nomination for you: Kangaroo Island. “It’s in south Australia, just a 15 minute flight from Adelaide,” he points out, “and it’s known as Australia’s ‘zoo without fences.’” As you might expect, you’ll get an eyeful of kangaroos and wallabies there, as well as koalas, seals, and the whimsical-looking echidnas (spiny anteaters). DiScala also says the island’s Southern Ocean Lodge is one of the world’s best places to stay.
Perhaps the best news is that Kangaroo Island is not yet on the radar of U.S. family travelers. “I was there in October, so no U.S. families were traveling,” DiScala says, “but they will be there, as it’s just now getting known. It’s the new Tasmania.” Read more
No matter how cold it gets in Minnesota, it’s always 72 degrees in the Mall of America. The Bloomington behemoth maintains its internal temperature not with a heating system, but with solar energy flowing through its eight acres of skylights, the light from its more than 520 stores and 50 restaurants, and the body heat radiating from the 40 million people who visit those stores and restaurants every year.
Iron-fisted shopping amid many heated bodies may not be a draw for all families, but seen through a different lens, Mall of America (MOA) may pack appeal as an off-the-beaten-path theme park destination. MOA’s centerpiece, Nickelodeon Universe, is the biggest indoor amusement park in the United States. As a bonus, the mall is only about 10 miles south of the best city you’re not visiting, Minneapolis.
The first few weeks of May, before Memorial Day kicks off the summer travel season, present a sweet spot for domestic travel. You’ll find pleasant spring weather in most of the country, without the crowds and heat that can plague July and August vacations. Take advantage with Frontier’s nationwide fare sale, which is slashing rates on routes between popular destinations, including New York, Los Angeles, Denver, and San Antonio. Tickets drop to as little as $44 each way, including most taxes and fees.
Sample Fares (O/W):
Albuquerque – Denver: $ 44+
Denver – Tucson: $ 49+
Denver – Phoenix: $54+
Des Moines – Milwaukee: $59+
Spokane – Denver: $69+
Los Angeles – Denver: $74+
New York (LGA) – Milwaukee: $84+
Madison – Denver: $99+
Minneapolis/St. Paul – Kansas City: $109+
San Antonio – Milwaukee: $114+
THE VALUE: One week after the sale, fares on the Albuquerque to Denver route jump to $99 each way – more than double the current price.
THE CATCH: You’ll have to act fast: Tickets must be booked by May 18 for travel through May 25.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates on hotels and other travel deals.
Realistically, Earth Day can be celebrated any day when dining out. It’s easy to find eco-friendly eateries around the country that serve sustainable food and embrace environmental business practices – online directories like the Green Restaurant Association (www.dinegreen.com) even provide state-by-state listings.
But many of these restaurants and cafés step it up a notch on Earth Day itself by offering special menu items and discounts, and producing special events and entertainment. On April 22, dine out and do good at these eight locations nationwide.
Red Stag Supper Club: Start the day with breakfast at Minneapolis’ Red Stag Supperclub (www.redstagsupperclub.com), where all money raised from 8am to 12pm benefits the Land Stewardship Project (www.landstewardshipproject.org). Minnesota’s first LEED-certified restaurant will serve up locally-produced and organic ingredients, while the LSP will give brief presentations.
Eco-Cafe: Write your pledge to go green on the chalkboard in front of New Orleans’ Eco-Café (www.ecocafeno.com) and you’ll get a free cup of organic coffee. That Friday, featured menu items – like the soup and salad combo – will be made exclusively with ingredients from Holly Grove Farm, just three miles away.
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