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America's Most Beautiful Sunsets (Plus Deals to Get You There!)

By The Budget Travel Editors
April 29, 2014
Before-Kids_Napa-Valley_sunset
Thomas Barrat/Dreamstime
From Montauk to Maui, from Denali to Daytona, the U.S. is blessed with beautiful scenery and jaw-dropping sunsets. And Contributing Editor Darley Newman, host of PBS’s Equitrekking, has seen more beautiful sunsets than most. Here, a video of her top picks for the loveliest in the land, plus affordable deals to get you up close and personal with each sunset on the list!


Want to check out these amazing sunsets in person? Here are deals to get you to all of them:

Maui, HI

How does six nights at the Ka'anapali Beach Hotel sound? Delta Vacations puts you right on the beach, including airfare, six nights, and hotel taxes for around $1,200 (depending on where you're flying from).

Bradshaw Mountains, AZ

Spend some time exploring Arizona with an Expedia deal that includes airfare and five nights, usually for less than $700! The stunning Bradshaw Mountains are in Prescott National Forest, about a two-hour drive northwest of Phoenix.

Virginia Hunt Country

The Marriott Ranch, in Hume, Virginia, is about 50 miles outside Washington, D.C., but is a decidedly rural environment. You can book day trips, including a "City Slickers" ranch experience, "Twilight Dinner Rides," and a four-night "Western Vacation Package (including all riding equipment) for under $700.

Texas Hill Country

You can book a flight and three nights in Austin via Expedia, usually for under $500, and explore Hill Country must-sees like Fredericksburg (about a 90-minute drive due west), with its thriving wineries, inns, and restaurants.

Sault Ste. Marie, MI

The gorgeous sunsets behind freighters in the Soo Locks here are an unlikely pair, but it's all part of the spectacular landscape to be found around Lake Superior, the largest body of fresh water on earth. Fly into Minneapolis (typically under $400 on U.S. Airways from New York) and explore the lakeshore, including Minnesota, Michigan, and Ontario, at your own pace in a rental car.

California Wine Country

From the sunny valleys to the mist-shrouded mountains, the warm days the cool nights, the climate in Northern California isn't just ideal for growing grapes but for the perfect romantic getaway as well! Gate 1 Travel offers package deals that include airfare, hotel, and car rental in San Francisco and wine country, often for less than $800!

See our readers' best photos of sunsets around the world!

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Inspiration

Five Unforgettable Vacations for Under $100/Night!

Here at Budget Travel, we know nobody wants to skimp on vacation—it’s the time for great food, luxurious surroundings, and breathtaking scenery. But what if we told you that all that can be yours for less than $100 a day? Contributing Editor Darley Newman joined Today show hosts Kathie Lee and Hoda to share five “real” budget destinations: MYRTLE BEACH, SOUTH CAROLINA Why we love it: This is a gorgeous, warm American beach that’s a road trip away for most Easter Coasters. What to do: Relax! Miles of warm sand and gentle surf are perfect for families or girlfriend getaways. Nightlife includes oceanfront seafood buffets, local micro-brews, and boardwalk rides (like the Twist ‘n Shout roller coaster) that turn grownups into kids. Where to stay: Westgate Myrtle Beach Oceanfront Resort includes beach access, a heated pool, and a kids-eat-free policy (from $75/night). 7-DAY CARIBBEAN CRUISE ON THE NORWEGIAN GETAWAY Why we love it: A super-stylish new Norwegian Cruise Line mega-ship is hitting knockout destinations like St. Maarten and St. Thomas—and you can totally afford it. What to do: The brand-new mega ship Norwegian Getaway (featuring chic Miami-themed food, entertainment, and decor!) departs from Miami and leaves plenty of time for you to explore the beaches, open-air markets, and shops of St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and Nassau. Bottom line: This seven-day cruise starts at $449 (that’s less than $65/day!). DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: IBEROSTAR COSTA DORADA ALL-INCLUSIVE RESORT Why we love it: “All-inclusive” means you may not have to reach for your purse the entire stay! And unlike some resorts, this place pours top-shelf cocktails for no extra charge! What to do: Hang a do-not-disturb sign on the door of your thatched-roof lodgings! Or indulge in cuisine that includes Brazilian, Mexican, and international menus. Lounge on the beach or beside the massive pool, or get adventurous with kayaking or diving lessons in a tropical paradise. Bottom line: The Iberostar Costa Dorada, just 10 minutes from Puerto Plata, completely renovated its 500+ rooms in 2011. All-inclusive lodging, three a la carte restaurants, and top-shelf drinks from $75 per person per night based on double occupancy. CHICAGO Why we love it: With world-class food, theater, and art, the Windy City is second to none in style! What to do: Enjoy the peerless art collection at the Chicago Art Institute (including Seurat’s pointillist masterpiece, “A Sunday on La Grande Jatte”); see a great play at Steppenwolf Theater; have a ball on the classic Navy Pier (one of Budget Travel’s “most awesome boardwalks in America”); take a cruise on the Chicago River; explore some of America’s most noteworthy architecture (including some of the highest observation decks in the world!); and take your pick of cuisine—from heaped-high hot dogs to an under-$30 lunch at the fantastic Café des Architectes restaurant. Where to stay: Hotel Blake is in a lovely 19th-century building a short walk from the upscale shops and boutiques of State Street, from $95/night when booked via Expedia. ATLANTIC CANADA Why we love it: Step back in time in an 18th century fishing village. Enjoy the friendly locals, freshest seafood EVER, and a European feel right here in North America! What to do: Old Town Lunenburg is a lovely 18th-century century heritage site in Nova Scotia. Stroll past brightly colored wood-framed houses painstakingly preserved by Lunenberg’s citizens. Buy a $10 ticket to the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic and its wharves to behold floating replicas of famous trawlers and schooners. Grab an amazing bowl of chowder and traditional Lunenburg fish cakes at local favorite, The Knot Pub. Where to Stay: Quaint and cozy, the Smugglers Cove Inn is right by the docks. For $5 a night, you can even rent a Beta fish, which the hotel calls "a free 'therapy' session to help you relax." (From $99/night) See the video here:

Inspiration

Don't Miss the New York Travel Festival

If you happen to be in the New York City area the weekend of April 26th and 27th, you won't want to miss the New York Travel Festival, now in its second year, and offering a wide variety of seminars and presentations by some of the biggest names in travel. On Saturday, the Festival will take place at Bohemian National Hall, located at 321 E. 73rd St. between First and Second Avenues. Registration opens at 9:15 a.m. with seminars and events happening all day until about 7 p.m. Come to hear about the latest in travel tech start-ups, see presentations by Travel With Val and travel editors from Afar Media, and learn how to travel 675-days with your signicant other without killing each other from the founders of HoneyTrek.com, a couple who did just that. Other seminars include What's Yummy in Travel with Matt Gross and friends, Queens, NY: The World's Most Diverse County, and Celebrating the Dead in San Miguel de Allende, a special presentation by the San Miguel de Allende Tourism Board. Don't forget to stop by the Mexico Bar on the fourth floor between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. to try mezcal and sample other delicious Mexican delicacies. On Sunday, the Festival will take place at Hostelling International New York City, located at 891 Amsterdam Avenue and 103rd St., and will feature expert panels, workshops, and performances starting at noon. You'll hear great travel stories and tips from speakers like Lee Abbamonte, the youngest American to visit every single country, and learn how to successfully quit your job and travel the world in a panel hosted by Rainer Jenss and Meet, Plan, Go! You can also sign up for the Matador Network Speaker Series, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., which will feature G Adventures' founder, Bruce Poon Tip, who started the company in 1990 by maxing out two credit cards to follow his dream—G Adventures is now the largest adventure travel company in the world and offers more than 1,000 tours on all seven continents. His new book Looptail—about the how he reinvented the business model by focusing on the human element, karma, and happiness within the company—recently became a New York Times bestseller. As a special treat, all ticket holders will receive exclusive discounts on tours from participating companies like On Location Tours, A Slice of Brooklyn Bus Tours, Bike and Roll NYC, and Shop Gotham, Carreta Tours, Cititrek, Gotham SideWalks, Metro NYC Tours, NYCindy Tours, NYC Subway Art Tour, SusanSez NYC Walkabouts, Turnstile Tours, Urban Oyster, Wall Street Walks, Whistlin' Pup Tours, and Urban Adventures from Intrepid Travel—I'll be taking their Tenements, Tales, and Tastes tour in a few weeks and writing about it, so stay tuned! Tickets are on sale now through the New York Travel Festival website: $45 per person for both days; or $12 per person for Sunday only including lunch ($15 per person at the door). Please visit their website for a full schedule of events and more information.

Inspiration

Myanmar’s Culinary Delights

Myanmar's rich and varied cuisine is a direct reflection of its fertile land, variations in climate, and ethnic diversity. Having been fairly isolated from much of the world until recently, the country's culinary influences have come almost exclusively from neighbouring countries like India, China, and Thailand. While the spice levels are toned down when compared to its Southeast Asian neighbours, traditional Myanmar fare proudly stands on its own with strong flavors  like ngapi (shrimp or fish paste), unique offerings like laphet thoke (a salad of pickled tea leaves), and its rich mix of spices such as turmeric, lemongrass, tamarind, and cilantro. A Typical MealRice and noodles are staples nationwide and are normally served at every meal. However, lunch is generally regarded as the main meal of the day. A typical Myanmar meal usually consists of a main dish of curried meat (often mutton or goat) or seafood depending on location and availability. Curried vegetables and salad often accompany the meal. A soup is a requisite part of a Myanmar meal, but plays the role of beverage, as wine and water are not customary. And when soup is not available, green tea is the next best thing. SnacksDuring the rest of the day, people snack. Savory snacks like Myanmar's unofficial national dish mohinga (fish broth with rice noodles) and ohnnoh khaukswe (coconut noodle soup with chicken or fish balls) are typically enjoyed at breakfast. The most popular Myanmar sweet snacks like shwe yin aye (coconut cream sherbet) are made from rice and/or coconut sweetened with sugar or jaggery (palm sugar). Some unusual and delicious varieties of fruit are available as well, especially at the local markets. DessertsWhile most people outside of Myanmar would not consider pickled tea leaf salad a dessert, laphet thoke often finishes a meal. Thagu (tapioca pudding sweetened with coconut jaggery) may provide a sweet finish to a typical meal, while shwe kyi (semolina pudding) and kyauk kyaw (seaweed jelly with coconut milk) are sweets reserved mostly for special occasions. Dining EtiquetteEating is an important social activity to the Myanmar people. During meals, dishes are placed in the middle of the table to share among the group. Eating with the hand is commonplace; however, it is always with the right hand and never with the left as this is considered unclean. Noodles are eaten with chopsticks. And it's not completely uncommon to be offered a fork, spoon, and sometimes a knife. When using a fork and spoon, the spoon is used to eat from while the fork is used to push food onto the spoon. Myanmar has been isolated from most of the world until very recently and so has remained untouched in many ways, including its culinary influences. But as this Southeast Asian nation continues to open its doors to tourists and diplomatic relations, the culinary landscape will no doubt shift as global food brands and other international influences slowly seep into the cultural zeitgeist as they have everywhere else. And on the other side of those doors, as Myanmar begins to showcase its rich culture to the rest of the world, there is no doubt that its flavours will also begin to bear influence on the international culinary scene. This article was written by Marianne Comilang, an adventurer filled with wanderlust. Originally from Toronto, Canada, she traverses across continents and can proudly say she has set foot on every one (except Antarctica). If she isn't writing, editing, and strategizing to make others look good, she is probably teaching yoga or posting on her blog MoveStillFree.com.

Inspiration

Journey to the Shipibos of the Peruvian Amazon

Tara Leigh has traveled extensively in South America, where she had a wonderful time enjoying the food, taking in the sights, and meeting the people of that fantastic continent. This article was written on behalf of the Tambo Blanquillo, a family-owned Amazon jungle lodge. As my plane took off from the Lima airport, I watched the Pacific Ocean sparkle below in the summer sun. I was on my way to Pucallpa to meet my Shipibo friend Wilder, who'd invited me to participate in an Ayahuasca ceremony in his community 15 hours up the Rio Ucayali in the Peruvian Amazon. I was super-excited about this amazing opportunity, but a little pensive as well, not knowing what to expect on this journey so deep into the Amazon! The immense, snow-covered peaks of the Andes pierced the clouds below the plane, and dipped down into rolling hills that gave way to the flat, green expanse of the Amazonian rainforest. Descending onto the tarmac, I marveled at how the trees completely blanketed the earth, interrupted only occasionally by a muddy river snaking through their midst. Wilder and his friend, an anthropology student from Argentina, met me at the Pucallpa airport. After stopping at Wilder's house to pick up a few more people, we took moto-taxis to the tiny, bustling Pucallpa dock to find a place on the crowded boat that would take us to our destinatination. We climbed onto the rusty, electric green barge by way of a precarious gangplank and strung our hammocks up together near the middle of the boat, where they levitated over crates of pop, packages of toilet paper rolls, and bags of rice destined for the villages up river. Passing tugboats hauling garbage and lanchas ferrying passengers to neighboring riverside communities, our boat left the harbour for the open river. A bit stifled by the crowd below, we climbed onto the roof of the boat and watched the green riverbanks roll by for hours, enjoying the river's breeze on our faces. As the sky began to turn pink with the sun's departure, the mosquitos chased me back down to my hammock for the night, where I tried (with little success!) to catch a bit of sleep before our arrival. We arrived at the muddy riverbank of the community at 4:30 a.m. Wilder's mom, a diminutive but strong Shipibo woman who wore no shoes, greeted us there with boys who quietly ferried our luggage into the waiting moto-truck. We piled into the back of the truck and drove to the village, as Wilder's mom good-naturedly cawed driving instructions him in Shipibo while he navigated the pot-holed dirt road. Mindful of the need to fast for the ceremony that evening, Wilder's cousins prepared us a small breakfast that morning of plantains, sugar cane, and tea. We literally hung around in our hammocks for a few hours, chatting and drinking maté until Wilder returned from some errands and drove us to the local creek to swim. We stopped to pick guavas and guanabanas on the way, which we feasted on for the rest of our jolty ride. After a few hours of swimming in the creek's clear, cool waters, we rested until it was time to head to the moloka for the Ayahuasca ceremony that evening. The Ayahuasca ceremony was a powerful healing experience. Wilder and his mother's Shipibo Icaros were incredibly beautiful, and their loving presence made me feel healed and protected. I woke up the next day feeling elated and clear-headed, full of gratitude and love for these wonderful people. Soon, though, it was time for me catch the boat to Pucallpa, and after a quick lunch and some warm hugs from Wilder's mom, I was ferried off in a community boat to wait for the "barco rapido" in the nearby village. The boat never stopped for us, however, as it seems an earlier rainstorm delayed its departure, causing it to fill up faster than usual! With few other options for transit, Wilder offered to take me, and the other would-be passengers, all the way to Pucallpa in his little boat. We gladly took him up on his offer, and piled in! Wilder hung my hammock up inside the boat, and I stayed there until we reached Pucallpa, watching the river scenery slip by as we motored along. A perfect end to a perfect trip!

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