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.
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.
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)
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In Search of the Loch Ness Monster—and Other U.K. Pop-Culture Icons!
Sophie Gackowski for HomeAway UK It's fair to say the United Kingdom has produced some pretty famous exports. From Harry Potter to Henry VIII, these unassuming isles have certainly packed a punch over the course of world history. Do your interests lie in literature and folklore, music, or mythical creatures? Whatever you dream of when you think "U.K.," here are eight of our favorite vacation (we call it "holiday") spots, and the eminent exports that planted them firmly on the map. Nessie's home in Loch Ness. A large, unidentified monster lurking in Loch Ness, you say? We may never know, but resident "Nessie hunters" may tell you otherwise! Possibly the U.K.'s most famed mythical creature, Nessie has attained an incredible popular culture presence since her first reported sighting back in 1933. Get your camera at the ready. Shakespeare's Stratford-upon-Avon. As Romeo was to his Juliet, William Shakespeare was to his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon. He may have moved to London to pen the world's finest plays, but he returned to Stratford in his later years, where he died at age 52. The house in which he lived remains, as does his resting place, at Holy Trinity Church. The Brontë sisters' Yorkshire. If you're barmy about the Brontës, then Yorkshire—lovingly known as Brontë country—is unbeatable. It's this land of windswept heather and moor-ish wilderness which inspired Charlotte, Emily, and Anne to create their famed novels Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey. Its bleak plains are every bit as bewitching. The Beatles' Liverpool. The most celebrated band to ever come out of the U.K., it's no secret the Beatles began in the city of Liverpool. From "The Beatles Story" in Albert Dock and famed Penny Lane, to the childhood home of John Lennon and the Cavern Club in which they played, Liverpool's incredibly proud of its four famous sons. Robert Burns's Scottish Borders. As Scotland's national bard, it's safe to say Robert Burns is one of our most prominent poets. See where he was born at Alloway's Robert Burns Birthplace Museum (keep an eye out for the cast of his skull!) before following in his footsteps to Dumfries, where you'll have a dram at his favoured watering hole, the Globe Inn. Jane Austen's Derbyshire. Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice has enchanted and enthralled readers for years. Who could forget falling for the delectable Mr. Darcy for the first time? Derbyshire's thought to have inspired the tale itself, and it's Chatsworth House near Bake well which provides the model for Darcy's incredible country estate, Pemberley. Beatrix Potter's Lake District. The Tale of Peter Rabbit has long lit up the eyes of children; it's one of the best-selling books of all time. Written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter, it's just one of many filled with colorful characters and Lake District locations. Did you know that Squirrel Nutkin sailed on Derwentwater, or that Johnny Townmouse lived in Hawkshead? Robin Hood's Nottingham. Heroic rogue and all-round great guy, Robin Hood—with his Merry Men—has captured imaginations for centuries. Nottingham's Sherwood Forest lies at the heart of the legend, and it's not difficult to see why: its ancient oak trees would have provided the perfect camouflage for robbing the rich to give to the poor! Follow Sophie Gackowski on Google+.
Wildlife Hotspots in Lima, Peru
This article was written by Andreas Ambarchian, a freelance journalist from England who writes about a variety of subjects including travel, wildlife, and sports. He wrote this article on behalf of the Tambo Blanquillo, a family-owned lodge offering ample opportunities for wildlife viewing in the Peruvian Amazon. For all the dense rainforest in Peru, the capital of Lima is better described as a concrete jungle than a haven for animals. Yet, despite the heavy traffic congestion and inexorable building development in Lima's inner city, there is still plenty of wildlife to see along the coastal region. Palomino IslandsAlthough a city in its own right, Callao is fully integrated into the Metropolitan Area of Lima—it is off the coast of this important port that the Palomino Islands are situated. The islands are home to a large colony of sea lions, with boat tours to the area taking around 30 minutes to reach the destination. Life jackets are provided, as are light snacks and refreshments. Depending on weather and water conditions, visitors are offered the chance to swim among the animals. Tours to the islands also pass by the naval base of San Lorenzo Island, which is home to a number of Humboldt penguins and the old prison island of Fronton. Inner City BirdwatchingThe inner city of Lima is well built up, however even in the most urban districts, such as Barranco and Miraflores, it is possible to find public parks. Although often quite busy, these spaces can be peaceful and are very popular with the wildlife in the area. Vibrantly colored song birds often forage for food in the parks, while flocks of parakeets and hummingbirds can also be seen. One of the largest and best maintained public parks in Lima is Parque El Olivar, located in the business district of San Isidro. The green space has lots of trees, and you can visit a library, an art gallery, a pond, and some early 20th century mansions nearby. [Parque Kennedy in Miraflores is also worth a visit, especially if you're a cat lover—the park is full of clean, happy neighborhood cats!] The CoastLong stretches of boardwalks make much of the coast visible from inland Lima. From here, sea birds, such as cormorants, can be seen plunging into the ocean below. There is also a circuit of beaches making the ocean easily accessible for scuba divers. The water is quite cold so a wet suit would be required. The Pacific Ocean off Lima is inhabited by an array of marine life. In all, Peru has over 1,000 species of fish, some 1,400 species of mollusks, and more than 300 species of shellfish. One of the most popular dives in the area is in the south of Lima, off the coast of the Pucusana district, home to the remains of a 60-foot boat wreck. ZoosLima is home to two zoos, the Zoologico de Huachipa and the Parque de las Leyendas. The first, the smaller of the two, is a privately owned park in the Ate district of the city, close to Central Lima. Here, there are a wide variety of different animals including tigers, giraffes, zebras, and kangaroos, as well as a few indigenous species like monkeys, llamas, and parrots. Inside the botanical garden are around 600 species of exotic, native, and endangered plants. Meanwhile, Parque de las Leyendas is located in a pre-Columbian complex in the San Miguel district. There are various ruins inside the park as well as animals like bears, vicunas, penguins, and big cats.
Lock in an Unbeatable Ski Deal NOW
World-class snow-peaked Rocky Mountain lodging from $99 a night. Oh, and kids ski for free. Sounds good, right? Wait. It's only May! Didn't the ski season just wind down? Yep. But if you want to lock in great rates, don't wait until next season's snow starts coming down before booking a ski getaway. Keystone Resort (800/328-1323, keystoneresort.com), in Colorado, may be America's best ski deal, and booking now means you can save up to 40 percent on lodgings, not to mention the resort's kids-ski-free policy, which has no exceptions or blackout dates. Last November, I published our Ski Resort Survival Guide, in which I confessed that I'd never been skiing, and I promised to learn. The folks at Keystone read that story and emailed me, suggesting that my family and I join them for ski lessons. We did just that, spending a week at Keystone in February, and had a blast learning to ski (I'll share that story in Budget Travel's November/December 2014 issue). We also came away feeling that Keystone not only offered exceptional deals but also a gorgeous, second-to-none setting. If a deal is high on your winter 2014/2015 list, check out the Inn at Keystone in November or early December, where you can lock in rates from $99 a night. I loved the comfortable feel of the rooms at the Inn, the fact that you can walk to Keystone's fantastic Mountain House ski runs on Dercum Mountain (including an amazing ski school that my daughters adored), nab a complimentary hot breakfast every morning, and even bring your dog if that's your thing. The vibe around the Mountain House ski runs is laid back and friendly. The Inn's comfy convenience is just one of Keystone's many lodging options, and you can get downright spectacular if your budget permits. But even upscale digs like the Keystone Lodge and Spa, and a number of condos, remain firmly in the range of smart travelers like you. And as appealing as the resort's Mountain House runs are, the River Run ski area, with an incredible gondola ride to the 11,000+ foot summit, has more star power. Most visitors divide their time between the two areas, and of course there's plenty of exploring to do. (There's also a traditional chairlift for those who prefer to kick it old school, and for the occasions when the winds require the gondola to shut down.) Staying at Keystone also means you can take part in the Epic ski pass program, which gets you onto the runs at other major Colorado resorts, including Vail and Breckenridge, plus resorts in Japan, Switzerland, and France. Keystone also has an array of dining options, all of them exceptional. (My favorite is Keystone's Sleigh Ride Dinner, which takes guests on a two-horse open sleigh to a homestead-style cabin for a cowboy-cooked dinner, live music, and, on a cold, clear night, one of the most spectacular night skies you'll ever seen.)
An Unforgettable Memorial Day Site
Visitors to Washington D.C. this weekend shouldn't miss the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (5 Henry Bacon Drive, nps.gov/vive). This deceptively simple wall, designed by American sculptor Maya Lin, lists the names of more than 58,000 American men and women who died in the Vietnam War. The enormity of the loss and the presence of visitors searching for a loved one among the names, which are listed chronologically, make this understated memorial unique and unforgettable.