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Take a minute and ask yourself which of the following two activities you did on your most recent trip: checked out a new art exhibit, or went shopping at the mall? I’m embarrassed to admit the latter. Not that I go out of my way to find the malls, mind you. It’s an unfortunate truth that shopping malls, souvenir kiosks, and multiplex cinemas often make themselves more available to tourists than museums, art galleries, and other cultural institutions. Like any traveler, I want to feel enriched by my trip, no matter where the destination, but sometimes the familiar allure of chain department stores, air-conditioned food courts, and gliding escalators just proves too strong.
Autumn’s crisp days and sunny skies make for fantastic travel opportunities and you’ll be getting out of town in no time with our 10 quick and easy fall getaways. Our list runs the gamut from crowd-free cities and autumn harvest bounties (think pumpkins and grape vines) to island beaches and theme park thrills – and, of course, sublime seasonal scenery. Best of all, our 10 picks are just a quick flight from many U.S. cities – we’ve even included information on how to get there to make your weekend jaunt as easy as possible.
Whether you call it leaf peeping, foliage following, or just “spending a day outside,” enjoying fall’s colors is one of the simplest joys of this wonderful time of year. Of course, there’s much more to autumn than looking at leaves. It’s harvest time, which means that it’s also festival time. We’ve compiled some of our favorite places to enjoy both the natural beauty and classic celebrations that come with the crisper temperatures. Our top 10 fall foliage destinations will take you all across the United States (with a quick jaunt up to Canada, as well). Whether these
hot cool spots are right in your backyard, a quick weekend trip away, or clear on the other side of the continent, they’re worth your attention.
When summer highs get unbearable, it’s time to go jump in a lake. Literally! Our top picks for lake vacations will help you choose which watery oasis to dive into – in both hemispheres – during the dog days of summer. Pick between easy-to-get-to lakes in the United States and Canada, top draws in Europe and Japan, and even a match in far-flung New Zealand (where peak summer season runs from December to March). No matter whether you prefer to rough it at a lakeside campsite or sleep in 300-plus-thread-count Egyptian-cotton sheets at a top-tier resort, you’re bound to find a perfect lake vacation fit on this watery-wonderland list.
By: Nicole Fisher
The great American road trip; synonymous with unhealthy snacks, boring i-Spy games, and way too many family sing-alongs. We’ve got a solution to one of those problems: No matter what road you ride along in the USA, there’s some quirky sight for you to see before arriving at your destination. We found the top 10 roadside attractions across the country. Kill the time with these must-see stops along the way.
With its day-long beach parties, afternoon parades, nightly concerts, and dazzling fireworks, July 4th isn’t your everyday holiday – it’s the birthday of the good ol’ U.S. of A., and everyone’s invited to the countrywide party. Whether you’re into paying tribute to American history or just enjoying traditional summer pastimes, our list of top places to celebrate July 4th has got you covered. While we were tempted to include London – just to remind them who won! – we opted to stay domestic with our picks for July 4th vacations. Accordingly, you’ll find the obvious places for saluting the nation – like D.C., Boston, and Philadelphia – as well as the unexpected. Look for coastal cities, offshore islands, an inland mountain, and…one of the finest ships afloat. Start the celebration with our Places to Celebrate July 4th slideshow.
From earthquakes and tsunamis devastating Japan to marauding pirates swarming luxury cruise ships, wary travelers need just skim the day’s headlines to conclude that an unforeseen travel disaster can strike at any place, at any time. Our top 10 travel emergency tips outline travel catastrophe scenarios of all types, offering precautionary advice, as well as insight on how to effectively manage such crises should they actually arise.
What do you think of when wines from the United States come to mind? Our first guess is Napa Valley. But the North American wine industry is much more than just Northern California (some spots on our list even have more history). From New England, all the way south to Texas and west to Colorado, wine regions are popping up all over the place. If you’re looking to escape the crowds and the often-jaded (or is it stuck-up?) vibe present in some popular wine destinations, venture outside the box (ever been to an urban winery?) and step into one of these regions where it’s not uncommon for the winemaker to serve you him or herself.
In honor of the 43rd anniversary of Earth Day (April 22, 2013), we’ve rounded up 10 top ecotourism destinations to get you thinking green. Two on our list may seem like obvious choices (the Amazon and Galapagos), but you’ll also find some up-and-comers, like the Caribbean island of Dominica, which is turning into the region’s primo environmental destination; Australia’s Blue Mountains, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site over a decade ago; and Botswana, a model of sustainable tourism in Africa. If staying at eco-friendly lodges in the midst of a rainforest sounds appealing, consider Borneo or Costa Rica. If getting up close to wildlife and glaciers is more your speed, Alaska and Antarctica offer intrepid travelers the chance to experience both from the deck of a ship or an inflatable zodiac. And if you’d rather sleep in the great outdoors and trek to some of the world’s highest plateaus, plan a camping trek in the Himalayas (and be sure to take your trash back to base camp with you). For a list of environmentally friendly tour operators, hotels, and more, visit the International Ecotourism Society website.
Green beer, nearly legal drinking in the streets, and raucous, overcrowded parades; they all come to mind when we think of St. Patty’s Day. But the holiday isn’t just an excuse for the Irish (and the “Irish For A Day” types) to get a bit boisterous.
Ahhh…the family beach vacation. It’s as all-American as apple pie, a time-honored tradition where some of the best childhood memories are made. Everyone has their favorite sands, but when it comes to family-friendly options, not all are created equal. We’ve picked 10 great family beaches across the country that parents and kids alike are guaranteed to love – whether for their gentle surf, range of activities, sand-castle potential, or educational elements. So gather the gang and pack up the SPF and beach ball – it’s time to take the clan to the sand! Get a preview of our favorite shores with our Family Beaches slideshow.
Summer vacation will be here before you know it! Stymie the lazy-day choruses of “I’m bored…” before they start with a visit to one (or more) of these 10 spots that every kid should see. Ticking off this treasure-trove checklist of close-to-home U.S. sights – each within the scope of a weekend getaway – is sure to mount childlike wonder in kids of all ages, with each destination offering enriching experiences that are both educating and entertaining. From iconic emblems to engineering marvels, and natural wonders to theme park fantasy lands, these attractions for kids promise to spark the imaginations of young dreamers. Perhaps the only better alternative to seeing these sights as a child? Seeing them through the eyes of one. Catch a sneak peek at our 10 picks with the Spots Every Kid Should See Slideshow.
We go to the movies (or sit at home on the couch), in hopes that they will transport us somewhere else. Sometimes they succeed and create a believable 2-D world that we can immerse ourselves in for a few hours. Movies have the remarkable power to take us to the middle of the South Pacific, or follow us as we wander the streets of revolutionary France, and even animate our surroundings with the rich green rolling hills of the Scottish highlands.
There are plenty of reasons to leave everyday life behind and set out on a cruise– some people just love being out on the water, some love exploring popular ports of call, while still others are simply in it for the hassle-free vacation that a cruise can provide. While many would be happy to embark on a nautical adventure, it can be difficult to find the time to commit to a voyage lasting more than a week. Fortunately for seafarers with packed schedules, your ship’s come in. These short cruise vacations will get you just about anywhere, from popular islands with turquoise shores to south-of-the-border hot spots, from the depths of the American Southwest to the historic harbors of New England. Whether your interest lies in mega-cruise ships, houseboats, steamboats or windjammers, we’ve got you covered. Best of all, each of these short sailings – ranging from one to five nights in duration – departs from ports within the continental U.S. and Canada, making a quick and easy jaunt on the high seas (or high rivers, or high lakes, so to speak) easily accessible.
3, 2, 1 . . . Happy New Year! Whether counting down to 2013 at tried-and-true celebrations like New York’s annual Times Square extravaganza, or by eating a grape for every stroke of midnight in Barcelona, your adrenaline is sure to be racing as 2012 winds down at our favorite locales for New Year celebrations. We love the ultimate party city, Vegas, for its most over-the-top show of the year; partying heartily in Berlin’s massive open-air fiesta; schussing the slopes of the majestic Rockies; and even standing under the breathtaking fireworks cascade over Sydney’s harbor. Should you agree that one day of feting simply won’t suffice, experience the celebration Scot-style, with merrymaking in Edinburgh that lasts four long days, or head to bustling Hong Kong to experience what’s billed as the world’s largest Chinese New Year celebration, spanning more than three weeks of festivities. Beach-lovers can also experience sandy revelry with a twist on December 31 in Rio or Miami.
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