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5 Unforgettable Summer Getaways to Book Now

By The Budget Travel Editors
January 12, 2022
Big Sur California
Courtesy <a href="http://mybt.budgettravel.com/_California-Coast/photo/4387682/21864.html" target="_blank"> bdgray/myBudgetTravel</a>
Yup, the days are getting longer and the sun is getting warmer. It’s time to book the summer vacation of a lifetime—and lock in a rate that you’ll still be bragging about in September.

Say the word summer. What comes to mind? The chilly Atlantic caressing a New England beach? Pacific waves breaking over the rocks? Kids of all ages skipping stones along a quiet lakeshore? Or maybe you'd prefer to head to the far north to watch glaciers break into pieces, or lounge in a rain-forest resort where you don't have to reach for your wallet for a week? Whatever your taste, we've rounded up five spectacular summer trips you can afford—if you book them now.

SEE 16 SUMMER HOTSPOTS FOR FAMILIES!

MONTEREY, CA

California's Central Coast has been called the most perfect meeting of land and sea on earth. Most visitors see it on their way up or down the coast between Los Angeles and San Francisco, but you can spend a week—or even a lifetime—exploring the cliffs, tide pools, redwood forests, and culture of this unique region. Fly into San Francisco (about $400 to $500 airfare from New York) and head down the coast. See the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, near the top of Monterey Bay, before settling into Monterey. In this historic seaport made world-famous by John Steinbeck's novel Cannery Row, you'll find a working fishing wharf that also boasts what may be the best clam chowder on the planet, the Monterey Bay Aquarium (dedicated to the sea life of the Monterey Bay), and a number of sites associated with the early days of California state history. Monterey is a short drive from scene Pacific Grove, chic Carmel, and the mind-blowing cliffs of Big Sur.

Stay: Hilton Garden Inn Monterey is surrounded by Monterey Pines and live oaks, just minutes from the action on Fisherman's Wharf and the waterfront. (hiltongarden3.hilton.com, from $144)

ALASKA

If you prefer stunning natural beauty served with, say, English high tea, an Alaska Inside Passage cruise just might be your dream trip. Princess Cruises will set off from Seattle and make stops in the historic capitol, Juneau, the frontier towns of Skagway and Ketchikan, and explore Glacier Bay National Park, where naturalists will provide color commentary and background as you witness firsthand the sparkling remnants of the last ice age as they grind away—and sometimes break into massive pieces right before your eyes. And if you find yourself itching for civilization, you'll have the chance to quaff a pint or scarf a crumpet in Victoria, British Columbia, before returning to Seattle. (princess.com, seven days from $949)

DOOR COUNTY, WI

Door County's nickname—the Cape Cod of the Midwest—doesn't really begin to do it justice. This unique Wisconsin destination between Green Bay and Lake Michigan is beyond comparison and has been drawing families, and drawing them back again year after year, for generations. Miles of quiet lakeshore, piles of fresh Bing cherries (Door County is also known as Cherryland, USA), and a thriving art gallery scene make it a magnet for vacationers escaping Chicago and Milwaukee for the summer. (Airfare from New York City to nearby Green Bay, WI, is about $450.) Peninsula State Park offers 3,700 acres of forest, shoreline, and campgrounds, not to mention American Folklore Theatre, which performs original shows in a Broadway-size space among the evergreens.

Stay: Lodgings at Pioneer Lane is a handsome inn in Ephraim, offering comfortable rooms and suites. (lodgingatpioneerlane.com, rooms from $80, suites from $109)

CAPE ANN, MA

For authentic New England without the throngs, Gloucester, MA, a tight-knit fishing community on Cape Ann, just 45 minutes north of Boston, is a good place to start. Expansive beaches, frothy seas, wonderfully old-fashioned Main Streets, historic lighthouses, and some of the freshest locally sourced meals around make this "other cape" a reason to bypass the better known—and infinitely pricier—beach destinations along the Massachusetts coast. Hit Gloucester's Good Harbor Beach, a wide stretch of fine, white sand edged by dunes and a gurgling creek leading into a refreshingly chilly pocket of the Atlantic, and Rocky Neck artists' colony, where you can soak up some of the sumptuous light that has drawn artists including Milton Avery, Edward Hopper, and Winslow Homer.

Stay: Blue Shutters Beachside Inn has comfortable rooms with beach views and a welcoming living room with a fireplace that's surprisingly welcome even on summer evenings. (blueshuttersbeachside.com, from $125)

COSTA RICA

Do you crave privacy and having your every need met in advance? An all-inclusive resort on the beach, surrounded by rain forests and a national park, fits the bill. The low-key Barcelo Langosta Beach Resort, near Tamarindo, Costa Rica, includes one buffet restaurant and one a la carte restaurant specializing in Mediterranean cuisine, one bar, a small casino, and an amphitheater with daily entertainment. The rooms have views of either the Pacific Ocean or Las Baulas, an estuary that's part of the national park. Airfare from New York City to San Jose, Costa Rica, is around $530. And that phrase "all-inclusive" really sinks in when you realize that even tipping for the staff is included in the rate—so you may never have to reach for your wallet! (barcelo.com, from $180 per person per night)

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50 States of Great American Wine!

TEXAS HILL COUNTRY Even wine production is bigger in Texas. Take Hill Country, a 14,000-square-mile expanse in the center of the state. With 32 wineries, it’s America’s second-largest AVA (American Viticultural Area, or grape-growing region with unique geological features)—and one of the nation’s fastest-growing, too. Vintners can thank the hot, dry weather, which is perfect for growing Mediterranean-style grapes such as tempranillo and syrah.  Visit: One of the state’s oldest wineries, Becker Vineyards has had its bottles opened at both the Super Bowl and the White House (beckervineyards.com, tastings $10, open daily). Eat: At Cooper’s Old Time Pit Bar-B-Que, the meat is smoked for five-plus hours over mesquite coals and sold by the pound (coopersbbq.com, pork ribs $11 per pound). Do: Grab an inner tube and hit the horseshoe-shaped Guadalupe River, where you’ll find the locals floating away their lazy summer days (shantytubes.com, four-hour tube rental $15). Stay: Fredericksburg’s Full Moon Inn plays up the town’s German roots with its breakfast menu of sweet-potato pancakes and German sausages (fullmooninn.com, from $150). Other notable wineries: Fall Creek Vineyards (fcv.com, tastings from $5, open daily). Flat Creek Estate (flatcreekestate.com, tastings from $7, open Tuesday-Sunday). Fredericksburg Winery (fbgwinery.com, up to five tastings free, open daily). Spicewood Vineyards (spicewoodvineyards.com, tastings $5, open Wednesday–Sunday). PASO ROBLES, CALIFORNIA It’s roughly halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles and 240 miles south of Napa, but “Paso,” known for its zinfandel and syrah, might as well be on another planet. It’s uncrowded, unpretentious, and, best of all, unlikely to drain your wallet. Most of its small, family-run wineries charge just $5 to $10 to taste six wines—if they charge at all. Visit: At Eberle Winery, visitors can roam the 16,000-square-foot cave where its award-winning zinfandel and cabernet sauvignon are aged (eberlewinery.com, tastings free, open daily). Eat: Farmstand 46 in Templeton embodies Paso’s agricultural bent, growing much of the produce that tops its wood-fired pizzas (farmstand46.com, pizzas from $10). Do: Tour the olive mill at Pasolivo, a local farm that’s been pressing handcrafted oils for over a decade (pasolivo.com, tours and tastings free). Stay: The just-remodeled Paso Robles Inn has a heated pool and a central downtown location (pasoroblesinn.com, from $141). Other notable wineries: Justin Vineyards &amp; Winery (justinwine.com, tastings $10, open daily). Pipestone Vineyards (pipestonevineyards.com, tastings $10, open Thursday–Monday). Tablas Creek Vineyard (tablascreek.com, tastings $10, open daily). Tobin James Cellars (tobinjames.com, tastings free, open daily). CENTRAL VIRGINIA It’s been more than 200 years since Thomas Jefferson planted vineyards at Monticello. Now, with six AVAs and 206 wineries, Virginia is the country’s fifth-largest producer of wine—including some of the best Viognier made outside of France’s Rhône Valley.  Visit: Built on the grounds of a Thomas Jefferson-designed mansion and owned by Italian winemakers, Barboursville Vineyards is one of the state’s most renowned wineries (barboursvillewine.com, tastings $5, open daily). Eat: In Charlottesville’s historic district, Brookville specializes in contemporary American food, from braised pork breast to spicy raspberry jelly doughnuts (brookvillerestaurant.com, braised pork breast $22). Do: Explore Monticello, which contains Jefferson’s furniture, art, and books (monticello.org, tour $24), and scope out the University of Virginia, which he also designed (virginia.edu, tours free).  Stay: Guest rooms at Dinsmore House Inn are named after presidents (including Madison, Monroe, and, yes, Jefferson) and have hand-carved mahogany beds (dinsmorehouse.com, from $109). Other notable wineries: Blenheim Vineyards (blenheimvineyards.com, tastings $5, open daily). Chrysalis Vineyards (chrysaliswine.com, tastings from $5, open daily). Horton Vineyards (hortonwine.com, tastings free, open daily). RdV Vineyards (rdvvineyards.com, tours $40 including food, by appointment only). LEELANAU PENINSULA, MICHIGAN This low-key Michigan spot sits on the 45th parallel, which also happens to run through France’s Bordeaux region. Adding to the peninsula’s appeal: an exploding food scene (Mario Batali owns a home here) and powdery beaches. Visit: At Black Star Farms, you can pair pinot noir and merlot with fromage blanc from the on-site creamery (blackstarfarms.com, five tastings $5, open daily). Eat: The Cove serves local seafood several ways, including in pâté form and as a garnish for Bloody Marys, a Batali favorite (thecoveleland.com, Bloody Mary $12).  Do: Take in the 64 miles of public beach at Sleeping Bear Dunes (sleepingbeardunes.com). Stay: The 32-room, Bavarian-style Beach Haus Resort fronts East Grand Traverse Bay (thebeachhausresort.com, from $90). Other notable wineries: Forty-Five North Vineyard &amp; Winery (fortyfivenorth.com, three tastings free, open daily). L. Mawby (lmawby.com, two tastings free, open daily). Peninsula Cellars (peninsulacellars.com, up to four tastings free, open daily). Two Lads (2lwinery.com, six tastings $5, open daily).  FINGER LAKES, NEW YORK Long eclipsed by West Coast wine hubs, upstate New York’s Finger Lakes region is finally snagging some acclaim. With good reason: The country’s largest wine producer east of California, it’s also a prime travel destination, with green forests, glistening waters, and a smattering of charming small towns. Visit: Unlike many wineries, Hermann J. Wiemer Vineyards harvests all the grapes for its celebrated Rieslings by hand (wiemer.com, tastings $3, open daily). Eat: The menu at Red Dove Tavern, a gastropub in Geneva, changes weekly to highlight the freshest seasonal ingredients—such as an appetizer of duck leg in rhubarb-barbecue sauce, paired with green-chile grits (reddovetavern.com, duck leg $10). Do: Go waterfall-spotting. Among the most impressive (and accessible) of the area’s cascades: the towering, 215-foot Taughannock Falls near Ithaca (taughannock.com). Stay: The wide porch at Magnolia Place B&amp;B, in an 1830s farmhouse, overlooks Seneca Lake (magnoliawelcome.com, from $140). Other notable wineries: Bloomer Creek Vineyard (bloomercreek.com, tastings free, open Friday-Sunday).  Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars (drfrankwines.com, tastings free, open daily). Heart and Hands (heartandhandswine.com, tastings free, open Saturday-Sunday). Heron Hill (heronhill.com, tastings from $3, open daily). WALLA WALLA, WASHINGTON Tucked away in remote southeastern Washington (more than 150 miles from Spokane), Walla Walla is a farm town traditionally known for wheat and onions. But its current cash crops are the ones squeezed into its excellent cabernet, merlot, and syrah. In the past two decades, the number of area wineries has shot up from six to about 125—they’re everywhere from Main Street to the local airport. Even actor (and Washington native) Kyle MacLachlan couldn’t resist: He cofounded a label (named Pursued By Bear, a Shakespeare reference) here in 2005. And thanks to a $53 million facelift, the city’s downtown is lined with cafés, art galleries, and gourmet restaurants.  Visit: The family-owned L’Ecole No. 41, run out of a 1915 schoolhouse, is prized for its signature red blend Perigee (lecole.com, tastings $5, open daily). Eat: For greasy goodies, locals love the divey Green Lantern, where MacLachlan swears by the burger (509/525-6303, burger $10). For more highbrow eats (house-cured duck prosciutto, yellowfin tuna crudo), visit the tapas-style Jim German Bar in Waitsburg (jimgermanbar.com, tuna crudo $14). Note to java junkies: Get your fix at Walla Walla Roastery, where the coffee beans are roasted on-site (wallawallaroastery.com, latte $3.50). Do: Meander through mountains of the Umatilla National Forest, which offers 19 trails of varying difficulties; the scenic, 2.6-mile Jubilee Lake path is good for beginners (541/278-3716). Stay: Exposed-brick walls and loads of original art create a cozy vibe at Walla Faces, in a 1904 building on the town’s main drag (wallafaces.com, doubles from $145). Other notable wineries: Buty (butywinery.com, tastings $5, open daily). Dunham Cellars (dunhamcellars.com, tastings $5, open daily). Gramercy Cellars (gramercycellars.com, tastings free, open Saturdays).  Woodward Canyon (woodwardcanyon.com, tastings $5, open daily). 44 OTHER NOTABLE WINERIES Alabama (13 wineries): Until 2002, vineyards here were limited to the “wet counties,” where alcohol sales were legal. Now vintners make sweet wine from heat- and humidity-friendly muscadine grapes grown statewide. You can pick them yourself in September, when Morgan Creek Vineyards in Harpersville hosts an I Love Lucy-style stomping party. morgancreekwinery.com, open Monday–Saturday, bottles $10–$20. Alaska (8 wineries): Grapes don’t fare well in Alaska, so Bear Creek Winery, in Homer, imports concentrate to blend with local fruit (gooseberry, black currant) for hybrid concoctions like Blu Zin, a zinfandel infused with wild blueberries. bearcreekwinery.com, open daily, bottles $18–$27. Arizona (48 wineries): Arizona’s high-desert climate is similar to that of wine mecca Mendoza, Argentina. At Caduceus Cellars in the Verde Valley, Maynard James Keenan (better known as the singer from the band Tool) cranks out robust reds such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and Sangiovese. caduceus.org, tastings $10, open daily, bottles $17–$28.Arkansas (15 wineries): Some of Arkansas’s oldest vines belong to Wiederkehr Wine Cellars, founded by a Swiss winemaker who settled in the Ozarks in 1880. The winery is even listed in the National Register of Historic Places. wiederkehrwines.com, open daily, bottles $5–$18. Colorado (107 wineries): Colorado’s wine industry is flourishing in the Grand Valley, a trio of quaint towns 250 miles southwest of Denver. Canyon Wind Cellars offers gorgeous mountain views along with its award-winning Petit Verdot. canyonwindcellars.com, open daily, bottles $13–$40. Connecticut (24 wineries): No matter where you are in Connecticut, there’s a winery within a 45-minute drive. A must-try is Hopkins Vineyard, set among scenic hills in a converted 19th century barn and known for its sweet ice wine, made when grapes—though not the sugar inside—freeze on the vine. hopkinsvineyard.com, tastings $6.50, hours vary, bottles $12–$17. Delaware (3 wineries): This tiny state isn’t big on wine production—craft beer is more its speed—but 18-year-old Nassau Valley Vineyards wins awards for its merlot, pinot grigio, and cabernet sauvignon. nassauvalley.com, open daily, bottles $13–$30. Florida (31 wineries): Florida’s muggy climate and intense rainfall plague most grapes, so vintners have started replacing them with the state’s favorite export: citrus. Florida Orange Groves Winery in St. Petersburg makes their wines from key limes, tangerines, and other tropical fruits. floridawine.com, open daily, bottles $18–$23. Georgia (30 wineries): Three Sisters Vineyards in Dahlonega is the state’s  good-time winery. Come in September and October for its Swine Wine Weekends, complete with BBQ and live music. threesistersvineyards.com, tastings $5–$25, open Thursday–Sunday, bottles $10–$45. Hawaii (3 wineries): Two miles outside Hawaii’s Volcanoes National Park, Volcano Winery is a popular post-climb spot for thirsty adventurers. The 64-acre winery uses macadamia nuts and guava in some wines, as well as muscat and Grenache Gris grapes that thrive in volcanic soil. volcanowinery.com, open daily, bottles $18–$24. Idaho (48 wineries): Most of Idaho’s wineries sit in the Snake River Valley, where blazing days and chilly nights make for well-balanced bottles. The Cinder Winery, located in a warehouse outside Boise, is known for its rosé, named Best in the Northwest in 2009. cinderwines.com, tastings $5, open Friday–Sunday, bottles $18–$27. Illinois (98 wineries): In 1979, Fred Koehler, then a country-club manager, turned a basement booze-making hobby into the state’s first wine label. His Lynfred Winery has classier digs now—a mansion with a four-suite B&amp;B. lynfredwinery.com, tastings $9, open daily, bottles $10–$30. Indiana (63 wineries): Bloomington’s Oliver Winery specializes in strawberry, mango, and black cherry wines (many grapes can’t survive Indiana’s winters), plus Camelot Mead, made from fermented orange-blossom honey. oliverwinery.com, tastings $5, open daily, bottles $10–$14. Iowa (82 wineries): In the past decade, the number of Iowa wineries has jumped nearly sevenfold. Perhaps the quirkiest is the Renaissance-themed King’s Crossing Vineyard &amp; Winery, dotted with faux medieval torture devices. kingscrossingvineyard.com, open Saturday–Sunday, bottles $13–$28. Kansas (22 wineries): Every bottle at Oz Winery is a friend of Dorothy’s—after all, this is Kansas. Best of all, you can sample wines such as Drunken Munchkin, Auntie Em’s Prairie Rose, and Yellow Brick Road for free—Kansas law prohibits tasting fees. ozwinerykansas.com, open daily, bottles $18–$30. Kentucky (61 wineries): Be warned, bourbon: Earlier this year, Lexington-based Jean Farris winery snagged a gold medal at the 2012 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition for its cabernet sauvignon—the highest honor for a Kentucky grape to date. jeanfarris.com, tastings $5–$12, open Tuesday–Sunday, bottles $11–$65. Louisiana (6 wineries): Sixty miles north of New Orleans, Pontchartrain Vineyards is the only Louisiana winery using exclusively European-style grapes. Bonus for foodies: Its wines pair well with spicy gumbo, crawfish, and shrimp. pontchartrainvineyards.com, tastings $5, Wednesday–Sunday, bottles $10–$20. Maine (20 wineries): In the coastal town of Gouldsboro, Bartlett Maine Estate Winery incorporates local, hand-raked blueberries into its acclaimed Blueberry Oak Dry wine. bartlettwinery.com, open Tuesday–Saturday, bottles $16–$45. Maryland (51 wineries): Maryland wineries largely depend on out-of-state grapes (California, Virginia, New York). Black Ankle Vineyards, founded in 2008, is leading the charge for homegrown fruit, producing 12 varietals on its land 35 miles from Baltimore. blackankle.com, tastings from $7, open Friday–Sunday, bottles $28–48. Massachusetts (40 wineries): Since the small, family-owned Westport Rivers opened on Massachusetts’s southeastern coast 25 years ago, its wine has been poured at both the real White House (courtesy of Bush Sr. and Clinton) and the smallscreen one (via The West Wing). westportrivers.com, tastings $8, open Monday–Saturday, bottles $20–$45. Minnesota (38 wineries): At Carlos Creek, Minnesota’s largest winery, wines are made from Frontenac grapes, developed by the University of Minnesota to withstand temperatures as low as 20 below. carloscreekwinery.com, tastings $5, open daily, bottles $15–$25. Mississippi (6 wineries): At the Old South Winery in Natchez, wine is made exclusively from Mississippi muscadines and not barrel-aged, which would interfere with the candy-sweet, fruit-forward taste. oldsouthwinery.com, open Monday–Saturday, bottles $8.25–$11.25. Missouri (118 wineries): Home to the country’s first Viticulture Area in 1980, Missouri has added 30 wineries in the past three years alone. The 165-year-old Stone Hill, in the German-style town of Hermann, brought home over 100 medals just last year, at competitions from New York to California. stonehillwinery.com, open daily, bottles $8–$25. Montana (8 wineries): Montana’s short growing season means its handful of wineries have to get creative with their recipes. Flathead Lake Winery—the only state winery to exclusively use native fruit–finds its preferred grape substitutes in local cherries and huckleberries. flatheadlakewinery.com, open daily, bottles $10–$20. Nebraska (25 wineries): Founded in 1997 with 100 grapevines imported from New York, James Arthur Vineyards has grown into Nebraska’s largest winery—and has one of its coziest tasting rooms, too. There, visitors can warm up by a roaring fireplace with a glass of semi-sweet Vignoles, named the best white wine at 2010’s Monterey (California) Wine Competition. jamesarthurvineyards.com, tastings from $4, open daily, bottles $10–$25. Nevada (3 wineries): Parking is never a problem at Pahrump Valley Winery–if you have a helicopter. The mom-and-pop spot, which has won more than 300 national awards, has its own landing pad for high-rollers visiting from nearby Las Vegas. pahrumpwinery.com, open daily, bottles $12–$25. New Hampshire (25 wineries): After demand shot up for LaBelle Winery’s fruit wines (like cranberry and apple), the owners traded their 1,500-square-foot barn for a facility 13 times the size; the new space opens this September. labellewinerynh.com, open Wednesday–Sunday, bottles $14–$25. New Jersey (34 wineries): At Unionville Vineyards, set on an 88-acre farm, the head winemaker is a Napa expat fond of European-style grapes like syrah, grenache, and mourvedre. One to try: The Big O, a blend of merlot, cabernet franc, and cabernet sauvignon. unionvillevineyards.com, tastings from $5, open daily, bottles $12–$46. New Mexico (46 wineries): New Mexico’s hot, arid climate and high elevation give a boost to its prolific wine industry (production is expanding by nearly 15 percent annually). Sparkling wine is the main draw at Albuquerque’s Gruet Winery, owned by a pair of siblings from France’s Champagne region. Gruet’s bottles, many of which retail for less than $20, have graced wine lists at restaurants in all 50 states, including many with Michelin stars. gruetwinery.com, tastings from $6, open Monday–Saturday, bottles $14–$45. North Carolina (109 wineries): The number of North Carolina wineries has more than quadrupled since 2001, but the most popular is Biltmore, on the picturesque, 8,000-acre Asheville estate of the same name. In fact, it’s the most visited winery in the country, with roughly 60,000 folks dropping in each year. The sparkling Blanc de Blanc has been served at New York’s James Beard House. biltmore.com, tastings from $49 including guided tour and access to the historic Biltmore House, open daily, bottles $10–$25. North Dakota (9 wineries): In 2009, less than half of 1 percent of the wine sold in North Dakota was made in-state. But in tiny Burlington, the owners of Pointe of View aim to change that. Their Terre Haute Rouge, a semi-sweet blush, is made entirely from local grapes. povwinery.com, open daily May–December, bottles $12–$14. Ohio (148 wineries): Ohio’s winemaking history dates to the 1820s, and the state now churns out more than 1 million gallons annually. Most Ohio wineries are in the northeast, where Lake Erie tempers the cold, but don’t miss Kinkead Ridge down south. Its Viognier-Roussanne and cabernet franc were featured in the 2011 book 1,000 Great Everyday Wines from the World’s Best Wineries. kinkeadridge.com, tastings from $3, hours vary, bottles $10–$23. Oklahoma (21 wineries): Sleek and urban, Girouard Vines in downtown Tulsa plays up the city’s Art Deco history. The labels on the five award-winning Tulsa Deco wines feature local landmarks like Frank Lloyd Wright’s Westhope residence, built in 1929 on the city’s southeast side. tulsawine.com, tastings from $10, open Thursdays, bottles $18–$25. Oregon (450 wineries): Oregon is responsible for some of America’s best wines—in particular, the pinot noirs of the Willamette Valley. Left Coast Cellars in Rickreall uses only estate-grown grapes to make theirs—in a winery partly powered by solar energy. leftcoastcellars.com, tastings $5, open daily, bottles $16–$55. Pennsylvania (180 wineries): Thirty years ago, Pennsylvania had 20 wineries; now, it counts 180 (plus five AVAs and 11 wine trails). About 30 miles west of Philadelphia, Chaddsford Winery’s colonial-era barn is a cozy spot to taste award-winning merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and Naked Chardonnay, which foregoes oak-barrel aging to let its citrus flavors shine. chaddsford.com, tastings for sweet wines free, dry wines $10, open Thursday–Sunday, bottles $13–$50. Rhode Island (5 wineries): Portsmouth’s Greenvale Vineyards capitalizes on southeastern New England’s coastal climate to produce subtle chardonnay and crisp Vidal Blanc. Its sprawling Victorian farm also makes a lovely setting for Saturday jazz concerts from May to November. greenvale.com, tastings from $12, open daily, bottles $15–$28. South Carolina (12 wineries): Don’t be fooled by the name: The vineyards at Victoria Valley (elev. 2,900 feet) claim some of the state’s highest turf. The altitude aids in making European-style chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon. victoriavalleyvineyards.com, tastings $5, open daily, bottles $8–$25. South Dakota (19 wineries): The rural Strawbale Winery combines unorthodox ingredients—currants, coffee, and jalapeños—and unconventional packaging: Wine bottles can be dipped in a half-pound of gourmet chocolate around Valentine’s Day and Christmas. strawbalewinery.com, tastings $5, open Wednesday–Sunday, bottles $12–$13. Tennessee (41 wineries): Founded by country-music star Kix Brooks (of Brooks and Dunn), Arrington Vineyards, set among verdant 25 miles south of Nashville, puts a Southern spin on grapes imported from the Napa Valley. Their spicy red Antebellum, for one, is aged in Tennessee whiskey barrels. arringtonvineyards.com, open daily, bottles  $18–$50. Utah (8 wineries): Tours of Moab’s Castle Creek Winery, on a working ranch 4,000 feet above the Colorado River, are enhanced by its views of rugged red-rock cliffs and swirling white-water rapids. castlecreekwinery.com, open daily, bottles $9–$13. Vermont (24 wineries): Northern Vermont’s bracing winters produce fantastic ice wine. Some of the best is made at Snow Farm, on an island in Lake Champlain:  It’s wowed the critics at Wine Spectator and the judges at 2011’s Los Angeles International Wine and Spirits Competition. snowfarm.com, tastings from $1, open daily May–December, bottles $12–$45. West Virginia (14 wineries): West Virginia makes up for its short supply of grapevines with a bounty of pears, apples, and peaches—which are made into sweet, all-local wine at the 22-year-old Forks of Cheat, in the Appalachian Mountains. wvwines.com, tastings free, open daily, weather permitting, bottles $10.50–$15.50. Wisconsin (90 wineries): Hungarian immigrant Agoston Haraszthy–often called the father of California viticulture–spent two years planting grapes in Prairie du Sac, Wisc., in the 1840s before he ever set foot in Sonoma. Today, you can imagine what the fruits of his labor might have tasted like at the family-owned Wollersheim Winery, built on his former stomping grounds; the winery has won raves for its Fumé Blanc and Riesling. wollersheim.com, open daily, bottles $6.50–$22. Wyoming (2 wineries): When University of Wyoming student Patrick Zimmerer planted grapes on his family’s farm in Huntley (population: 30) as part of a school project in 2001, he singlehandedly doubled the tally of Wyoming vineyards. Eleven years and a $10,000 business-school grant later, his Table Mountain Vineyards has graduated to making 10-14 varieties of wine. wyowine.com, open by appointment, bottles $15.

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12 Best Budget Airlines

Travel can be an expensive hobby—you have to figure out where to stay, what do see and do, what to eat, and more importantly, how to get there, and all without breaking the bank. Flying can often be the priciest part of the journey, especially with all the extra baggage fees and other taxes that are involved nowadays. Luckily, there are airlines out there that want to make it easier—and cheaper—for travelers to get from Point A to Point B. We've rounded up 12 of the world's best budget airlines, great for that quick weekend getaway you've been dreaming about and there to help support your endless sense of wanderlust with an affordable way to visit a new city abroad. JetBlue Airways Comfy leather seats and televisions for all So you want to fly down to D.C., Orlando, or even San Juan for the weekend—no problem! JetBlue Airways makes your flight—whether it's a cross-country hop to San Francisco or a shorter, regional flight to Boston—comfy and enjoyable with plush leather seats and your very own TV screen equipped with 36 channels to make the time fly by. Complimentary snacks like Linden's chocolate chip cookies, Terra blues potato chips, and Dunkin Donuts coffee are available among other tasty snack options, and to top it all off, your first checked bag flies free of charge. Taking the red-eye? JetBlue offers a complimentary snooze kit with eyeshades, ear plugs, and pre-landing treats like hot towels, coffee, and orange juice to help you greet the new day. Where they fly: Between major cities in the northeast, southeast, and western United States; the Caribbean; select cities in Mexico, Central America, and South America. Southwest Airlines Fun-loving employees and open seating options Best known for their above-and-beyond customer service—the airline made news in 2011 when a pilot held an outgoing flight for a grieving grandfather trying to see his dying 2-year-old grandson—Southwest Airlines now offers connections to even more cities around the U.S., Caribbean, and Mexico, thanks to a nifty new partnership with Air Tran Airways. Their unique open seating boarding procedure is another thing that makes this airline stand out. You'll receive a group number when you check-in (the earlier the better), and after your group is called, stand in line and choose any seat you want while boarding the plane. Your first bag flies free, and your biggest decision all day will be choosing between the window or aisle seat. Where they fly: Major cities throughout the United States; Nassau, Bahamas; San Juan, Puerto Rico; Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; Montego Bay, Jamaica; Mexico City, Cancun, and Los Cabos, Mexico. WestJet Connecting Canada with the U.S., Mexico, and the Caribbean Founded in 1996 and based out of Canada, the idea behind WestJet is that you shouldn't get less service just because you're paying less for a ticket. The airline has won several awards since then, was named J.D. Power Customer Service Champion, and is involved in several community service projects including the Boys and Girls Club of Canada, Make-A-Wish Canada, and the Ronald McDonald House among other charity groups. WestJet is also committed to investing in more eco-friendly practices like building more fuel-efficient jets. The airline offers flights to and from a number of Canadian cities, as well as flights between Canadian cities, making this an affordable way to visit the sites in Montreal, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Victoria, and Toronto for less. Where they fly: Major cities throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Major cities throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean. Check their flight map to see more options. LAN Gateway to South America Looking for an affordable way to explore South America? LAN is known for their reasonable long haul prices between the U.S. and a variety of destinations—sign up for their email newsletter and never miss a sale. The airline also offers extensive in-flight entertainment options. Each seat has its own television, and you can choose from more than 100 movies, 42 TV shows, 25 games, and even customize your own music playlist from their collection of more than 1,000 CDs or listen to one of their 10 available radio stations; entertainment options sure to make that international flight go by in a jiffy. Where they fly: Miami is the major U.S. hub, but flights also leave from most major cities in the U.S. and Canada. Within South America, destinations include Lima, Santiago, Buenos Aires, Montevideo, Rio de Janeiro, Guayaquil, Bogotá, LaPaz, and Caracas among others. Domestic flights are also available within Colombia, Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands, Peru, Chile, and Argentina. IcelandAir Spice up your next transatlantic flight with a free stopover in Iceland Want to make that long awaited trip to Europe just a little more interesting? How about adding a free stopover in Iceland? Thanks to IcelandAir, you have the option of adding a stay of up to seven nights when traveling from the U.S. and Canada to Europe for no additional cost to your original plane ticket. If you've got time to spare, don't miss this opportunity to tack on a few days and explore this intriguing nation, home to the Blue Lagoon, gorgeous natural landscapes, and a rare chance to catch a glimpse of the elusive Northern Lights. Check their website for specials from the U.S. and Canada to seemingly pricey destinations like Oslo, Copenhagen, and Helsinki, and for budget-friendly packages to Iceland that include airfare, hotel stays, and visits to popular attractions. Where they fly: From New York City, Boston, Washington D.C., Orlando, Minneapolis, Denver, Seattle, Halifax, and Toronto, to 25 major European cities and, of course, Reykjavik, Iceland. Aer Lingus Service with a brogue and a smile Erin go bragh! Originally created in 1936 to provide service between the Emerald Isle and the U.K., Aer Lingus is now the national airline of Ireland, operating 43 aircraft and carrying more than 10 million passengers per year. Customers can look forward to an impressive amount of in-flight entertainment-long haul flights from the U.S. feature a large selection of movies, TV shows, and music on demand, as well as several radio stations and gaming options-and complimentary in-flight WiFi on all flights beginning June 2013. Check the Aer Lingus Vacation Store for special deals on trips to Ireland that include airfare, hotel stays, and car rentals depending on the package. Where they fly: Major cities in the U.S. and Canada, various cities in the U.K. and around Europe. Also to Puerto Rico, Sydney, Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur, Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Oman, Morocco, and the Canary Islands. EasyJet Affordable flights around Europe and the Middle East The U.K.'s largest airline, EasyJet connects 30 countries on 600 routes, transporting more than 59 million passengers a year, all while offering some of the cheapest fares around Europe. If you're hoping to visit more cities while in Europe or the Middle East, this airline makes it easier to hop a plane to a new place for less. Their nifty Inspire Me tool can help figure out where to go next—just enter the European city you plan to leave from, set your budget range, and watch the options appear. A search from London, for instance, yielded one-way tickets ranging from nearby Edinburgh and Belfast to cities as far away as Berlin, Munich, and Milan for less than $50. Where they fly: Throughout the U.K. and between a number of major European cities; Moscow and various cities in Eastern Europe, Morocco, Turkey, Israel, Cyprus, Jordan, and Egypt. RyanAir Cheap flights—but watch for extra fees RyanAir is probably one of the most well known of all the budget airlines, but unfortunately is also known for offering super-low base ticket prices and tacking on extra fees for things like baggage, purchasing your tickets with a credit card, reserving seats, and reissuing boarding passes—at one point the airline even considered charging passengers to use the onboard restrooms. According to their website, these extreme methods are used as a way to encourage people to fly in a simple, low cost way, for instance, without any checked baggage, so for budget travelers with only carry-on luggage, this airline can be a great way to see more cities for a fraction of the price you would be spending on another airline. Where they fly: Various cities around Europe, Morocco, Cyprus, and the Canary Islands. FastJet Africa's first budget airline If you're looking for an affordable way to explore more of Africa, perhaps before or after your dream safari trip, try FastJet, Africa's first budget airline. Domestic flights start at about $20 one way, but make sure you pack a snack—because of the short flight time between cities, onboard refreshments are not offered at this time. You are allowed to bring one carry-on item with you as long as it can fit into the overhead compartment and prices start at just $6 to check a bag, making this no-frills airline an affordable option to hop between popular destinations like Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar, and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. Where they fly: From three international airports within Tanzania—Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro, and Zanzibar—and Mwanza Regional Airport, with more routes expected to open soon in Entebbe, Uganda, and in Nairobi and Mombasa, Kenya. Hawaiian Airlines Your ticket to paradise If you're on the east coast and think a trip to paradise is financially out of the question, think again. Hawaiian Airlines began non-stop flights from New York City's JFK International Airport last June, creating quite a stir in the tri-state area with prices in the $400s for a round-trip ticket. Keep an eye on their website for specials that are also available from California, Oregon, Washington, and Arizona, connecting the continental U.S. to the Hawaiian Islands at competitive prices. The airline also provides connections to other South Pacific islands and parts of Asia, making that dream trip across the Pacific well within reach. Where they fly: Honolulu, Hawaii, is the main hub—you can island hop to the other Hawaiian Islands of Kauai, Maui, and the Big Island, or fly to the Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Tahiti, Singapore, Australia, and American Samoa. JetStar Domestic flights between cities in 15 Asian and South Pacific countries Australia's award winning low cost airline is Jetstar, a group of airlines made up of Jetstar Airways, based in New Zealand and Australia; Jetstar Asia, based in Singapore; Jetstar Pacific, based in Vietnam; Jetstar Japan; and Jetstar Hong Kong. Together, the Jetstar Group has flown more than 75 million passengers, helping people fly between hotspot destinations around Asia, the South Pacific, and Hawaii for less since 2004. You have the flexibility to choose how many included amenities you want while booking thanks to their cheap base fares and the ability to add extras as you go—the standard ticket price includes one piece of carry-on luggage (a great value for those who tend to pack light), while other variations include seat selection, food, beverages, and in-flight entertainment. Where they fly: Various cities in Japan, Taiwan, Vietnam, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, and the Philippines. Tiger Airways Great for hopping between major cities in Asia Let's say you're visiting Australia but really want to pop over to Singapore to explore the city's vibrant culinary scene. Tiger Airways offers low fares great for last-minute split-second decisions to explore a new city, a network spanning more than 50 destinations in 13 different countries around Asia and the South Pacific. Check out their Flight Combos for even more savings and a chance to tack on a free two-hour guided sightseeing tour of Singapore if you have at least five hours to spare between connecting flights. Where they fly: Cities throughout Australia, Tasmania, Indonesia, India, Cambodia, Thailand, Taiwan, China, and the Philippines; Singapore, Kuching, Macau.

Inspiration

Intimate Italy Like You've Never Seen It!

Our waiter, Giado, covered his eyes in dismay when we told him we were setting off the next day on a weeklong walking tour of Tuscany. "You really want to walk? It's sometimes 16 kilometers [about 10 miles] from one town to the next, with nothing in the middle to eat or drink." His concern seemed genuine, and given that we'd just demolished two of Osteria le Logge's most amazing desserts—a mascarpone terrine with port granita and a chocolate panna cotta with lavender cream—somewhat justified. Nearly every window in the city of Siena displayed something I wanted to eat: biscotti, lardo, wheels of pecorino, bresaola, cones of gelato. I knew we wouldn't find much of that while footing it through hay fields. TOUR TUSCANY'S GLORIOUS CAPITAL, FLORENCE! But my mom, my sister, and I had come here to start a seven-day trek through Italy's villages—we wanted to really experience the countryside, not just drive by it. Everyone has a fantasy of what Tuscany looks like: old stone farmhouses, rolling fields, lines of cypress trees. (Admit it: You've seen Under the Tuscan Sun at least once.) That was certainly our terra cotta-colored vision, and we were convinced that a self-guided tour was the only way to live the dream. Countless companies offer walking tours in Tuscany; we chose an outfit called Girosole because it was run by locals passionate about their homeland and intimately familiar with the best walking routes. The company allowed us to start our trip on any day and add extra nights in a given location, in the event that we couldn't tear ourselves away from a favorite sliver of la bella vita. For $1,390 per person for eight days (in high season), the company booked our hotels, provided walking directions (and a cell phone in case we got lost), and supplied a driver who transported our luggage—and sometimes us—from hotel to hotel. The self-guided option left us free to start our days whenever we pleased and walk at our own pace without contending with anyone else's schedule or group dynamics. Neither my mom nor I are regular hikers, but my sister is a marathon runner, so having the services of a driver gave Mom and me an out: If we were too lazy-or worn out-to walk one day, we could always hitch a ride with the bags. Our driver turned out to be not one person, but two: Paolo Forti and his son, Giacomo. Giacomo, 27, wore oversize Ray-Bans and was exceedingly (and adorably) polite when he picked us up in Siena. He opened doors, carried our bags, and on the way to Montalcino, where we started our trip, he narrated the scenery, pointing out the small town where he grew up, offering advice on his favorite wines, and telling us to look for rosebushes planted at the end of every vineyard row. "The rose and the grape, they take the same element from the ground, so the farmer, he can know if the land is good for the grape," he said, in charmingly accented English. When we reached Montalcino, Giacomo handed over a set of maps and customized directions, and then we were off and walking. For us, a typical day started at 9 A.M., and we often set out right from the front door of our hotel-in this case, Hotel dei Capitani. We'd wind our way down from one of the jewel-like hilltop towns we stayed in, looking back to see the fortified castle of Rocca d'Orcia recede behind us on one day, the walled town of Montalcino the next. Then we were crossing fields of hay that waved in the wind, fording rivers next to stone bridges destroyed during World War II, and passing row after row of heavily pruned grapevines, all while following our endearingly quirky walking directions: You arrive at another open meadow. Keep right through the next fork just past the small ruined church. The trail bends into a gap in the brush. They seemed cryptic out of context, but on the trail they made perfect sense. One leisurely walk led to Bagno Vignoni, a spa town where people have taken the waters since Roman times-thermal pools still bubble and boil there. We scrambled across cliffs that spewed hot, sulfurous water into turquoise pools, dined at a restaurant beneath a fragrant acacia tree, then soaked our feet in the warm mineral water that flowed through channels carved into the rock. Heaven. We'd usually make it to the next town for lunch, but twice we stopped at a grocery store before setting out and bought picnic provisions: prosciutto, pecorino made from local sheeps' milk, Sicilian blood oranges, fresh-baked bread, and a thermos of red Brunello-we were, after all, in wine country. One day we waded through knee-high grass into an olive orchard and sat beneath the trees, our jackets serving as a picnic blanket. I picked a tiny stalk of wild onion sprouting delicate purple flowers and presented it to my mom, who wore it in her buttonhole. Mom was almost giddy from all the gorgeousness. She couldn't stop hugging us and saying "I'm so lucky!" My sister and I rolled our eyes, but secretly we agreed. Girosole sent us on a path through the Orcia River valley (Val d'Orcia). It's an area of such well-preserved agrarian beauty-where cypress trees and crop rows trace the same lines they did when this land was first farmed-that it's been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's the place where the concept of  man-made landscape began, when the wealthy merchants of Siena laid out plots of land in the 14th and 15th centuries with the aim of making them not just manageable, but also aesthetically pleasing. We felt like we were walking through a 600-year-old period set piece, where every field, tree, and house was placed just so, and around every corner was another equally cinematic view. Let's just say we took a lot of photos. Throughout the trip, we were in daily contact with Giacomo or his father, and when they came to collect our bags, we'd pepper them with questions. One morning, we asked Giacomo about a massive building we'd seen in the distance, which he explained was a hotel dating back to the Middle Ages built to house religious pilgrims. During Caesar's time, the main north-south byway cut through the Val d'Orcia. Later, in the 7th century, Christians traveled by foot on their way to Rome, and it remained a pilgrimage route for a thousand years. Monasteries and inns sprang up to serve the travelers, but by the 17th century, the road fell out of fashion. But those earlier journeyers left behind a province perfect for strolling, where scenic lowlands were punctuated with hilltop fortified settlements, most of which were located less than 10 miles-a manageable day's walk-from another town. Remnants of this once-illustrious route are sprinkled throughout the Val d'Orcia. Just after passing through the hamlet of Villa a Tolli (which was so deserted I had to use my camera's self timer to photograph the three of us in front of a dreamy stone house covered in climbing roses), we rounded a corner and saw the Abbey of Sant'Antimo, its bell tower peering above the countryside. The abbey was built and rebuilt many times, first in the 700s by Lombard kings to house pilgrims. Its current form is gracefully curved in a rare French-Romanesque style, dotted with prehistoric-looking carvings of monsters and oxen and men. Close up, its massive building blocks seemed to glow from within. There were other visitors at Sant'Antimo, but we spent most days in splendid isolation, encountering almost no one-just us and fields of poppies, thorny brambles of wild roses, stone walls blooming with irises, and clumps of rosemary as big as bushes. We walked right up to the iconic Cappella di Vitaleta. Flanked by two rows of towering 40-foot cypress trees, this tiny chapel is reportedly the most photographed church in Tuscany, but it's reachable only on foot. We had it all to ourselves for almost an hour; to celebrate our private tour, my sister and I turned cartwheels right on the lawn. Similarly deserted was the Collegiata church, in the slumbering town of San Quirico d'Orcia. Its entrance is flanked by delicately knotted columns resting on the backs of fantastical lions while scaly monsters tangle in battle above the door. Though it was designed to make 13th century pilgrims cower before the power of the church, we modern-day travelers were just as awed, dwarfed and alone before those spectacular stone beasts. When we saw Giacomo again, we asked him where everyone was. "The Italians, they don't walk," he said. "They come by car, they have lunch, they have a coffee, then they get back in the car." The under-populated countryside stood out in blissful contrast to the teeming villages where we spent our nights. One day, as we lingered outside a ceramics shop, surveying the valley we'd just walked through, we overheard another tourist. "Okay, this is our third town today. Are we done yet?" While they rushed on to Florence or back to Rome, we spent leisurely afternoons and evenings poking around in boutiques, gaping at medieval architecture, and strolling the narrow lanes. In Pienza, we saw a group of little old ladies gathered at the end of a cobbled street, knitting. In Montepulciano we sat outside drinking glasses of the famous Vino Nobile in a piazza and slept in a hotel, L'Agnolo, that felt more like a cathedral, with glorious frescoes painted on the ceiling of our room. And we happened to be in Montalcino on the day the town celebrates its patron saint, Maria SS del Soccorso, so we were treated to July 4th-worthy fireworks bursting over a fortress; afterward, a DJ blasted tunes in the square, and we found ourselves dancing in the streets to "Another One Bites the Dust." In truth, our appreciation for these towns was heightened because of the effort it took to get to them. Which is another way of saying that touring Tuscany by foot wasn't always a walk in il parco. Take, for example, our march to Montepulciano; the hike took longer than expected, and after five hours without food, we could hear one another's stomachs growling. We were so hot and tired that when we skirted an olive orchard and the Temple of San Biagio suddenly rose above us, we thought we were seeing a mirage, conjured up to give strength to hungry passersby. Glowing golden in the sunlight, drawing us in, its dome looked like something out of a Renaissance masterpiece.And yet, despite our grumbling bellies, it was impossible not to stop. Inside, the church's cool air and silent beauty seemed to cure our weariness. A diffuse light fell from the dome in a perfect circle, and we were surrounded by arches and rosettes and Greek columns, all carved out of the same linen-colored stone. As our eyes adjusted to the darkness, I saw an automated tour guide called an ArtPhone. I dropped a 1 Euro coin into the slot and learned that in 1518, a fresco of the Virgin painted on this spot suddenly seemed to smile. Many people witnessed the miracle, and public funds were collected to build a commemorative temple. San Biagio, one of the world's finest examples of Renaissance architecture, has been providing refuge for religious pilgrims-and weary hikers-ever since. When we headed back outside, our empty stomachs were filled thanks to another miracle. Directly across from the church, far from the city center, where we least expected to find a restaurant, I spotted La Grotta, reportedly home to the best food in Montepulciano. We weren't exactly dressed for a fancy lunch. Yet when the maitre'd, impeccable in his tailored navy suit, heard that we'd walked all the way from Monticchiello-five miles, uphill all the way-his eyes widened and he ushered us (shorts, hiking boots, and all) to a prime table in the back garden. He brought an extra chair for our hiking gear, recommended a bottle of the house red, and let us order dessert long after the restaurant had closed. We were several paces down the road when he came running after us with a half-empty bottle of water we'd left behind. "You will need it for your walk!" he said, sending us on our way with a wave and a "Ciao!" Bustling Montepulciano was full of trattorias and wine shops, but our favorite town was the emptiest: Rocca d'Orcia. There we found a crumbling castle looming over stone streets barely wide enough for cars (not that we cared about that!). When we arrived, an elderly man, navigating rocky steps worn smooth by the footfalls of several centuries, greeted us with a "Buon giorno." Otherwise, all was silent. We were staying at Cisterna nel Borgo, a three-room hotel above the town's only restaurant, where owner Marta Catani also gives cooking lessons, though she herself has no formal training. "Italians don't go to cooking school," she explained. "You just watch your grandmother." At dinner, we stuffed ourselves with tender, tangy wild boar cooked in yogurt and sauteed pork in a honey sauce that was salty and just a bit sweet. Since we were the only guests, we each got our own room; mine had a wood-beamed ceiling and windows overlooking the town square, which was dominated by a massive well. Marta told us that until the late 1950s, the city gates were locked against intruders every night, and today just 26 souls live within the town's walls. For two glorious nights, we were happy to push the population to 29. On our last morning, we were feeling lazy and not up to the challenge of a nine-mile walk. When Giacomo's father, Paolo, came to collect our luggage in the morning, we asked if he would drop us off at the halfway point. "Si, si," he said. That morning, instead of huffing up hills, we strolled through Monticchiello, a beautifully preserved walled town. We craned our necks to get a look at the top of the thick defensive tower at the town's entrance, then passed beneath a stone archway and into the winding medieval streets, flanked by the high walls of houses made of uniformly honey-colored stone. We walked down lanes no wider than a horse, took photos of laundry hanging from shuttered windows, admired a vintage red Fiat parked by a church with a vaulted interior covered in flaking frescoes, and read the plaque on an obelisk-shaped World War I memorial. On the way out of town, we encountered a crew of maintenance men. They waved. We waved back. "Ciao bella!" they exclaimed. Yes, we thought. It was beautiful.

Inspiration

One-Tank Escapes From 8 American Cities

Shenandoah Valley, Va. 107 miles from Washington, D.C. A collection of 10 independent cities make up the Shenandoah Valley, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, an idyllic watercolor landscape and outdoor adventure haven. SEE OUR SUMMER ROAD TRIPS! Shenandoah National Park is famous for its outdoor beauty, accessible via both easy and difficult hiking trails, some of which are part of the park's 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail (540/999-3500, nps.gov/shen, $15 per vehicle, $8 per person). The Limberlost Trail takes you past lush mountain laurel; Old Rag Mountain offers panoramic vistas. To refuel, perch in the Pollock Dining Room's taproom at Skyland Resort Lodge and order a Prohibition Punch, featuring local (legal) moonshine ($7.50), and a slice of famous blackberry ice cream pie, made from scratch from the season's harvest (540/999-2212, visitshenandoah.com/dining/skyland-restaurant, Prohibition Punch $7.50, blackberry ice cream pie $6). Not outdoorsy? Stroll through downtown Winchester with a guided tour of the Patsy Cline Historic House, where the country star lived for five years (540/662-5555, celebratingpatsycline.org, $8), or pick your own flowers in the fragrant fields at White Oak Lavender farm in Harrisonburg (540/421-6345, whiteoaklavender.com, tours $5). WHERE TO STAY Instead of camping out with her hubby FDR in Shenandoah National Park in 1936, Eleanor Roosevelt opted for luxury in Luray: "Franklin, you can rough it if you want, but I'm staying at the Mimslyn," she allegedly told the president. Even today, the property has opulent touches like Doric columns, formal gardens, and fine dining courtesy in the hotel's "upscale Southern" Circa '31 restaurant—necktie recommended (800/296-5105, mimslyninn.com, from $160). DRIVING TIP I-81 runs the length of the valley and connects large towns like Winchester, Harrisonburg, and Stanton. Consider jumping onto Skyline Drive to take in some of the most beautiful mountain vistas in the U.S. Yountville, Calif. 56 miles from San Francisco A walkable mecca for wine and food enthusiasts, Yountville offers glasses of big California reds, award-winning bites, and lush Napa Valley scenery that's a refreshing change from San Francisco's cityscapes. To sample vino, hop the Napa Valley Wine Train that chugs through the heart of town: It serves meals onboard, and visits local wineries for tours (800/427-4124, winetrain.com, from $135). Or go rogue and create your own tasting of five wines at Cornerstone Cellars (707/945-0388, cornerstonecellars.com). Get Michelin-star-quality flavor for less at chef Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc restaurant by partaking in the evening family-style four-course menu (707/944-2487, adhocrestaurant.com, $45); also, make time to walk through Keller's French Laundry Garden, which nurtures fresh vegetables and fruits used at French Laundry and Bouchon Bistro—it's free and open to the public. On a weekend morning, stop by Bouchon Bakery for the somewhat elusive chocolate doughnut—brioche dough filled with decadent chocolate pastry cream and topped with chocolate frosting and chocolate-covered Rice Krispies. But go early (it opens at 7) to score one (707-944-2253, bouchonbakery.com/yountville). Then float above the horizon on a group hot air balloon ride for eight to 12 passengers or take a romantic trip à deux with Napa Valley Balloons (800/253-2224, napavalleyballoons.com, from $210). WHERE TO STAY For a French country feel, book a room at Maison Fleurie, a B&amp;B with a morning breakfast buffet and complimentary wine, tea, and hors d'oeuvres in the afternoon. Borrow bicycles from the front desk and go for a leisurely ride when you tire of tippling (800/788-0369, maisonfleurienapa.com, from $145). DRIVING TIP The most direct route from San Francisco is I-80 East, over the Bay Bridge, to Highway 37 West and then Highway 29 through Napa Valley. New Braunfels, Tex. 175 miles from Houston If you visit New Braunfels and don't (a) eat German food or (b) get wet, you're doing something wrong. The town is well known for the innovative 65-acre Schlitterbahn Water Park, but its German history, food, and freshwater activities are equally compelling. Floating down the spring-fed Comal River on giant inflatable "toobs" is essential in New Braunfels. Rent one for the day or take a guided group trip at Rockin 'R' River Rides (830/629-9999, rockinr.com, call for a group trip quote). Quell your post-river appetite with one of 10 types of schnitzel, pan-fried bouletten (meatballs), or classic brats at Friesenhaus, one of the area's specialty German restaurants (830/625-1040, friesenhausnb.com, schnitzel from $15). No German meal is complete without a hearty dessert, so pop into Naegelin's Bakery, "the oldest bakery in Texas, since 1868," for a big hunk of apple streudel—a whole one is more than two feet long (830/625-5722, naegelins.com). WHERE TO STAY The 30-unit Greune Mansion Inn, right on the Guadalupe River, has a quiet, Victorian feel, with multiple historical buildings broken up into residences that guarantee each guest his or her own entrance and porch. Many of the units have river views (830/629-2641, gruenemansioninn.com, from $190). DRIVING TIP Take I-10 to I-46, making sure to avoid Houston rush hour if you can help it. Hood River, Ore. 62 miles from Portland Orchards, wineries, and outdoor recreation are all hallmarks of this Columbia River Gorge destination. Taking a drive on the whimsically named Fruit Loop steers you through 35 miles of orchards, vineyards, forests, and farmland (541/386-7697, hoodriverfruitloop.com). Sampling the area's up-and-coming viticulture is another must: Columbia Wine Tours shuttles from two to 24 people to four wineries in four hours and provides bottled waters and snacks along the way (541/380-1410, hoodrivertours.com, two-person tour $140). Or if you prefer hops to grapes, swing by the Full Sail Brewing Company Tasting Room &amp; Pub for a sip (or three) of Full Sail Amber (541/386-2247, fullsailbrewing.com). Dubbed the "windsurfing capital of the world" by some, Hood River is an ideal place to test your mettle on the water: Hood River Waterplay offers five different levels of windsurfing classes, plus equipment rental if you need it (541/386-9463, hoodriverwaterplay.com, from $69). WHERE TO STAY Seven Oaks Bed and Breakfast describes itself as a "garden oasis," surrounded by two acres of flowering plant life and fenced in by Douglas firs. The four-unit house (plus separate cottage) provides storage for recreational equipment and serves organic eggs, jams, and pastries (541/386-7622, sevenoaksbb.com, $160). DRIVING TIP I-84—a.k.a. the Columbia River Highway—is a straight, gorgeous shot from Portland. Look for both mountains: Mount Hood and Mount Adams. Harbor Country, Mich. 26 miles from Chicago Hitting the beach in the heart of the Midwest is possible at Harbor Country, a group of eight towns on the white-sand beaches of Lake Michigan. The southern beaches of New Buffalo and Warren Dunes State Park are biggest, but individual townships have access too (harborcountry.org). Charter a fishing boat in the New Buffalo Harbor with Cap'n D Charters to hunt down salmon, trout, bass, and blue gill (574/232-0436, capndcharters.com, $500 for up to four people for six hours) or try surfing or stand-up paddleboarding in New Buffalo or St. Joseph, assisted by Third Coast Surf Shop (269/932-4575, thirdcoastsurfshop.com, $75 for a 90-minute private lesson). Afterward, head to Three Oaks to the brand-new organic Journeyman Distillery, nestled in a former corset-making factory, and kick back in the tasting room for a sample of Featherbone Bourbon, a nod to the turkey feathers that the corsets were fashioned out of (269/820-2050, journeymandistillery.com). Soak up the booze at Skip's in New Buffalo, famous for its ultra-tender prime rib (269/469-3330, skipsrestaurantandcatering.info, from $22). WHERE TO STAY Directly across the road from its own private beach, the 31-room Lakeside Inn, built in the late 1800s, has a front porch filled with rocking chairs, plus an on-site café (269/469-0600, lakesideinns.com, from $80). DRIVING TIP Stick to highways 90 or 94. Creatively taking the back roads will only lead you into stop-and-go traffic. Clarksville, Tenn. 207 miles from Memphis How to describe Clarksville? "Think Carrie Bradshaw meets Dolly Parton," suggests the Clarksville Chamber of Commerce's website. With entertainment offerings just as diverse as those two pop culture icons, Clarksville manages to be a little bit country, a little bit rock 'n' roll. The tobacco trade—specifically stemmeries—brought in the big bucks in Clarksville in the late 1800s: Tour the Greek Revival/Italinata-style Smith-Trahern mansion, built in 1958 by a wealthy tobacconist - the slaves' quarters out back are still standing, as is an adjacent 1700s cemetery (931/648-5725, fceclarksville.org, $2). Continue exploring the past via the trails at Fort Defiance Civil War Park, between the Red and Cumberland rivers. The site was a Confederate fort that fell to Union soldiers in 1862; soon after, it served as a safe place for freed and runaway slaves (931/472-3351, fortdefianceclarksville.com). Or, hike one of three trails at Dunbar Cave State Park—the caves were once mined for gunpowder (931/648-5526, tn.gov/environment/parks/dunbarcave). Cool off afterward amid 1870s architecture downtown, at the Blackhorse Pub &amp; Brewery, which makes its own beer onsite, including the signature Barnstormer Red Ale, made with Bavarian Hallertau hops. Pair it with one of the eatery's specialty pizzas, like the Whitehorse, a pie topped with alfredo sauce, fresh spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, feta, provolone, and mozzarella (931/552-3726, theblackhorsepub.net, from $15.50). WHERE TO STAY For an authentic 1800s experience, drive 15 miles southwest of Clarksville to Lylewood Inn Bed &amp; Breakfast in Indian Mound, run by Mandy Williams. The rich antebellum décor—some rooms have claw-foot bathtubs—is matched in decadence only by the group meals: In addition to the requisite country breakfast, home-cooked dinners can include glazed pork loin, garlic cheese biscuits, and fresh berry cobbler (931/232-4203, lylewoodinn.com, from $75). DRIVING TIP Take Highway 40 to Highway 24, but don't fear the backroads. Visit the Tennessee Trails and Byways website for multiple mapped driving routes from different destinations - like the "Screaming Eagle" trail that begins in Nashville (tntrailsandbyways.com). Excelsior Springs, Mo. 28 miles from Kansas City, Mo. Soak up the late-18th and early-19th century history of Excelsior Springs, a Missouri town that boomed due to its wealth of pure, natural springwater. Early tourists came from miles around to bathe in the mineral-rich H2O and hopefully heal their ailments, and the city has preserved that craze via historic buildings and walking tours. Belly up to the world's longest water bar, housed in the Art Deco-style Hall of Waters and Cultural Museum, built in 1937, where you can taste the mineral waters that put Excelsior Springs on the map (816/637-2811, visitesprings.com). A few blocks down, stop into Oooey Gooey Chocolates for a chocolate-dipped Twinkie on a stick—your choice of either milk or white chocolate (816/630-9255, oooeygooey.com, $2.25). Or get away from it all at the 40-acre Knott Nature Sanctuary, which features education and recreation programs that include hiking, camping, and gardening and landscaping (816/630-2872). WHERE TO STAY Notorious characters Al Capone and Bugsy Malone reportedly threw their own bathtub gin and gambling parties at The Elms Resort and Spa, which reopened this year for its 100th anniversary after a multi-million-dollar renovation that includes a spa with a hydrotherapy grotto. The hotel is perhaps best known, though, for being the place Harry S. Truman found out he'd defeated Dewey for the presidency in 1948 (816/630-5500, elmshotelandspa.com, from $139). DRIVING TIP The quickest way to get to Excelsior Springs: Catch I-35 North from downtown Kansas City, then take Highway 69 to Excelsior. Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. 30 miles from New York City Indulge your love of literature, the arts, and lifestyles of the rich and famous in this storied region north of New York City. Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman live on (in spirit, anyway) in the Sleep Hollow Cemetery, which author Washington Irving name-checked in his 1820  story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Walk the grounds for free and visit cemetery residents including Irving himself, Andrew Carnegie, Elizabeth Arden, and William and J.D. Rockefeller, or take a two-hour, lantern-lit guided evening tour—if you dare (914/631-0081, sleepyhollowcemetery.org, guided tour $25). For a quick bite, select a hot "Fleetwood original" calzone (stuffed with pepperoni, sausage, peppers, onions, mozzarella, and tomato sauce) from Fleetwood Pizzeria, founded by the Guzzo family in 1965 (914/631-3267, fleetwoodpizza.com, $5.75). Drive two miles northwest, on Bedford Road, to Pocantico Hills to see how the other half lived at Kykuit: The Rockefeller Estate. Drift through the main rooms of the six-story stone house, past the fountains and sculptures dotting the expansive gardens, and tour the underground art galleries, replete with works by Picasso and Warhol (914/631-8200, hudsonvalley.org/historic-sites/kykuit/tours, from $23). WHERE TO STAY Venture eight miles north of Sleepy Hollow to bunk at the Alexander Hamilton House, an eight-unit Victorian B&amp;B with an eight-foot-deep swimming pool and a giant lawn chess set in the backyard (914/271-6737, alexanderhamiltonhouse.com, from $135). DRIVING TIP Allow traveling time for New York City traffic—the 25-mile drive can take much longer than an hour, even during off-peak hours.