Save up to 50% on Hotels
50 Budget-Friendly Black Friday and Cyber Monday Travel Deals
Whether you’re planning a staycation or an epic adventure, these Black Friday and Cyber Monday travel deals will help you do it for less, with rates starting under $200 per night and most travel dates extending through 2021. Note that blackout dates apply, most properties and tour companies have flexible cancellation policies and some links won’t be active until sales begin on November 27, 2020. Vacation Packages and Guided Tours Amtrak Vacations: This year’s round of “Track Friday” specials includes savings of up to $300 per couple on National Parks Rail Vacations and up to $300 per couple on private sleeper upgrades when you book at least five nights November 26–30 and travel in 2021. Apple Vacations & FunJet Vacations: Book November 25–December 3 for travel through October 31, 2021 to save up to $175 on trips of at least two nights within the continental U.S. (use promo code BLACKFRIYAY5) or up to $500 on trips of at least three nights to Hawaii, Costa Rica, Mexico and the Caribbean (use promo code BLACKFRIYAY4). Booking.com: Make up for lost time and book hotels through the site or app now through December 1 to save at least 30% when you travel by December 31, 2021. Cheap Caribbean: Save up to 75% on trips booked through December 1 for travel through December 2021. You’ll also save $75 on trips of at least five nights (use promo code CYBER75 and travel by December 31, 2020), $150 on trips of five to six nights (use promo code CYBER150 and travel January 1–December 31, 2021) and $250 on trips of at least seven nights (use promo code CYBER250 and travel January 1–December 31, 2021). Contiki: Now through December 3, travelers ages 18–35 can save 30% on tours happening April 1, 2021–October 31, 2022. Just make a deposit during the Cyber Sale and pay off the rest of it by March 31, 2021. Expedia: Save up to 50% on hotels and attractions all over the world by booking now through December 1—plus an extra 12% if you use the Expedia app—and traveling by September 12, 2021. Friendly Planet Travel: You’ll be able to save up to $1,300 per person on more than 60 guided tours including round-trip airfare, luxury accommodations and most meals by booking November 30–December 7 with a $99 deposit. G Adventures: Save up to 21% on select trips from January 1–December 21, 2121 when you make a deposit of $1 now through November 30. Pay the full deposit amount by January 31, 2021 and the rest of your trip fees at least 60 days prior to departure (120 days ahead for Expedition tours). Intrepid Travel: Save 20% on all international trips and 10% on all domestic trips when you book now through December 1 for travel January 1–December 15, 2021. Toucan Travel: Adventure travel fans can save 35% on 12 of Toucan Travel’s most popular guided tours by booking now through December 8. Best of all, travel dates extend through 2021 and 2022 so there’s plenty of time to plan your perfect trip. Hotels in the U.S. Aparium Hotel Group: Seeking a boutique hotel staycation? Look no further than the Crossroads Hotel in Kansas City, Detroit Foundation Hotel in Michigan, Hewing Hotel in Minneapolis, Hotel Hava in Tampa, the Surety Hotel in Des Moines and the MC Hotel in Montclair, New Jersey. Receive a $50 food and beverage credit each night when you use promo code THANKS, book November 27–30 and visit by February 28, 2021. Carter Hospitality Group Winery Resorts: Save 20% at Carter’s family-owned resorts in Temecula, California, and Texas Hill Country and receive a welcome bottle of wine when you book by December 1 and stay by September 12, 2021. Hyatt: Book a stay at Hyatt’s participating properties by December 6 and get 20% off when you stay by April 4, 2021. Sign up for the World of Hyatt loyalty program, as members can save 22% and earn rewards toward future stays. Kimpton: Sign up for IHG Rewards Club, then reserve a night at one of Kimpton’s hotels now through December 7 for travel through September 7, 2021 to save 25%. Kimpton’s also donating $5 per night to No Kid Hungry, so you’ll be helping to end childhood hunger while taking a much-needed break. Wyndham Hotels & Resorts: Save 25% on stays at more than 9,000 hotels in 90 countries with this week-long mobile app flash sale starting November 24. Download the app, enroll in the Wyndham Rewards loyalty program and book at least two nights by December 1 for travel through January 18, 2021. California Paso Robles Inn: Just 3.5 hours from Los Angeles and San Francisco, the Paso Robles Inn is offering savings of 40% on stays through May 27, 2021 when you book by December 2. You’ll also save 15% on gift certificates to the hotel, its sister property The Piccolo, Terro Rooftop Bar and The Piper Wine Bar. Casa Secoya: Use promo code BLACKFRIDAY to save 25% on stays through April 1, 2021 at this charming dog-friendly abode in Monte Rio, located along the Bohemian Highway and Russian River in Sonoma County. Pacifica Hotels: Plan a California coast staycation at one of 30 independent boutique hotels—and save 45% when you book November 27–30 and travel by March 31, 2021. The Meritage Collection: Save 21% on two-night Napa Valley stays, score a $21 daily food and beverage credit and donate $21 to the First Responders Children’s Foundation when you book by December 1 and stay by April 30, 2021. Fishing: Monterey Bay is an ideal fishing spot for finding "big fish" (Western Outdoor News). Embark from Old Fisherman's Wharf with J&M Sport Fishing and save more than 30% on a fishing trip. Colorado The Curtis: Plan a staycation in Downtown Denver at this retro-chic hotel known for its hyper-themed rooms. Track down limited rates from $53 a night during its Black Friday sale, happening November 27–30. Florida El Paseo: This charming Miami-meets-Mediterranean hotel, located along Española Way in South Beach, is offering 40% off stays in 2021 when you book now through December 4. Plunge Beach Resort: Use promo code Save50 to save 50% at this chic Lauderdale-By-The-Sea resort. Just book via the website (or call 754-312-5775) by December 1, 2020 and plan to stay Sunday through Thursday in 2021. Provident Hotels & Resorts: Save 25% at Crystal Palms Suites, Oceana Beachfront Suites and Sunset Vistas Beachfront Suites in Treasure Island—located about 20 minutes from St. Petersburg and 40 minutes from Tampa—when you book November 27–December 4 for trips through December 23, 2021. Club Med: Save 60% off at amenity-packed resorts in the Caribbean, Mexico and Florida. Hawaii Kauai Beach Resort save more than $400 on regular rates and puts you in a remodeled room. Plus, with availability through June 2021, there's plenty of time to pack your bags and decide when to treat yourself to a Hawaiian escape. Massachusetts Hotel Commonwealth: Treat yourself to a staycation in Boston, with rates from $106 a night, complimentary parking and 6 p.m. check-out. Just use promo code Cyber6, book November 27–November 30 and visit by March 31, 2021. New Jersey Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa: Atlantic City lovers can save 10% and receive a $20 food and beverage credit by booking November 30–December 5 for stays through March 31, 2021. The Asbury Hotel: Head to Asbury Park on the Jersey Shore, where you’ll save 20% for one night, 30% for two nights, 40 for three nights and 50% for four nights. Use promo code MERRIER on November 27 to book stays through April 30, 2021. New York The James New York–NoMad: Save 50% on a trip to this NYC institution, located in the NoMad neighborhood of Manhattan, by booking your stay before December 7 and visiting through December 31, 2021. The Naples Hotel: Looking for an affordable wine-filled escape to the Finger Lakes? Use promo code NHBF2020, book November 27–30 and visit by April 30, 2021 to save 25% on one night. Note that a two-night minimum stay is required for weekend trips. North Carolina The Monte Vista Hotel: Whether you want a cozy winter getaway, refreshing spring escape or an early summer trip, you'll save nearly 35%. This cozy mountain retreat is a short walk from the local shops, museums and restaurants of Black Mountain and offers easy access to the Blue Ridge Parkway Oregon LOGE Bend 45% off at the newly opened LOGE Bend. Did we mention it’s valid from ski season into early spring and weekends are also included? Rhode Island The Wayfinder Hotel: Save 30% on rooms booked November 30–December 6 when you stay by December 31, 2021. Hammetts Hotel: It’s a buy-one-get-one-free sale at Hammetts Hotel in Newport. Book your stay November 27–December 1, either by using this link or calling 401-324-7500 and visit by April 29, 2021. Gurney’s Newport Resort & Marina: Save 50% on suites and 40% on hotel rooms when you book now through December 1 and stay visit by December 30, 2021. Providence Marriott Downtown: Enjoy perks like 2 p.m. late check-out, complimentary parking and two 30-minute spa treatments at the onsite G. Salon & Spa, plus rates from $199 a night when you book November 25–December 1. Note that stays must happen Tuesday–Sunday through February 28, 2021. Texas Hilton Anatole Dallas: Save 20% on Breakfast with Santa packages, with rates from $187 per night when you book through this link from November 27–30. You’ll get 1 p.m. check-out, a special breakfast for two adults and two children with the man himself and access to other holiday events happening at the hotel. Vermont Hotel Vermont: Enjoy an escape to Burlington with rates from $159 a night when you book on November 30 for stays January 1–April 30, 2021. You’ll also receive a welcome drink at onsite restaurant Juniper, one of the best places in town to find locally sourced meals. Virginia The Alexandrian: For a fun getaway from Washington, D.C., head to nearby Alexandria, and save 20% on stays from December 3, 2020 to March 31, 2021 when you book now through November 30 via this link. Sessions Hotel: Close to the Virginia and Tennessee border in Bristol, Virginia, this stunning Marriott property is offering king rooms from $129 per night with a $25 gift card to Southern Craft, its onsite BBQ restaurant. Book “The Winter Getaway” by calling 276-285-5040 November 27–30 and staying December 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021. Lansdowne Resort & Spa: About 45 minutes from Washington, D.C. in Leesburg, Virginia, Lansdowne Resort & Spa is a great place to unwind. Save 30% on stays in 2021 with promo code BFCM when you book November 27–30. Hotels in Mexico and the Caribbean AMResorts: Save on stays at more than 60 all-inclusive hotels and resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico, with rates starting at $55 per night at Sunscape Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, $68 per night at Sunscape Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa and $92 per night at Dreams Tulum Resort & Spa, among a host of other offerings. While travel dates vary, most can be booked for stays through December 22, 2021. Bahia Principe Hotels & Resorts: Enjoy 75% off your next all-inclusive stay in the Caribbean, Mexico or Spain when you book now through December 3 and travel by December 17, 2021. You’ll also score $1,200 worth of resort credits for four-night stays or $1,630 in resort credits for seven-night stays, which can be used toward spa treatments, room upgrades, meals, golf and other perks. Karisma Hotels & Resorts: This year’s Mystery Mexico Sale lets you save up to 80% with rates at adult-only all-inclusives in Riviera Maya and Cancún from $99 per person per night and family resorts from $129 per person per night. Book now through December 5 and travel anytime in 2021. Renaissance Curaçao: Stay in the heart of Willemstad on your next trip to Curaçao with this deal that saves you up to 20% on stays through December 21, 2021 when you book November 27–30. Jungle Bay Dominica: This deal saves you 5% and brings starting rates at the luxury wellness resort down to $203 per night when you book November 27–December 26 and travel by May 1, 2021. Saint Lucia’s Cyber Monday Sale: Save up to 60% and receive complimentary upgrades and other perks at 17 participating properties, each with its own booking and travel dates, deals, promo codes and minimum-night stay requirements. Affordable options include Bay Gardens Hotel (from $82 a night), Bay Gardens Inn (from $87 a night), Bay Gardens Marina Haven (from $92 a night), Harbor Club (from $131 a night), Windjammer Landing Villa Beach Resort (from $141 a night) and Bay Gardens Beach Resort & Spa (from $152 a night). Ocean Club Resorts: Every third night booked at this Turks and Caicos haven November 27–30 is free as long as you reserve more than two nights, travel March 1–December 18, 2021 and use promo code BFCM.
5 fall foliage road trips through New York State
So now, it’s a good time to jump on a road trip. Here are our suggested itineraries for a four-day road trip throughout upstate New York. However, read up on CDC and statewide COVID-19 mandates before heading out. For reference, I Love New York, the state’s tourism board, puts out a weekly fall foliage map report on their website. Chasm (Little Grand Canyon of East), New York. ©ujjwalstha/ShutterstockRoad trip 1: The Adirondacks Where to Stop: Lake Placid tells about the 1980 Winter Games with present-day restaurants and attractions and is close to the High Peaks Wilderness. Its challenging 46 Peaks will reward you with sweeping foliage views. Eight miles from Lake Placid, Saranac Lake has a buzzing downtown with shops, galleries and restaurants, or see Saranac Lake 6ers, a close-by collection of six beautiful peaks. Or jaunt along the scenic route to Tupper Lake and to the Wild Center, whose Wild Wild platformed trail heads across the treetops. The Tawahus Road leads to the Upper Works Trailhead, which provides an alternative route to traditional northern or eastern access to the High Peaks Wilderness. Trails at the Crown Point State Historic Site, on the shores of Lake Champlain, lead to two Revolutionary War-era fort ruins. In Bolton Landing, Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course is the largest aerial tree-top adventure park in the U.S. The Lake George area is a premier hiking destination with unparalleled beauty of the Adirondacks. Some hikes, such as The Pinnacle, jaunt along wooded trails with a switchback or two to ease the climbing burden. Where to eat: In Lake Placid, Golden Arrow’s restaurant, Generations, is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with grown and raised locally menu. Up the road from Crown Point State Historic Site, Gunnison's Orchards & Bakery serves up fresh-baked pastries, bread, cookies, pies, and their cinnamon cider donuts. End your day at Ledge Hill Brewery, for handcrafted ales and lagers mindfully brewed in Westport. Road Trip 2: Capital-Saratoga Where to stop: Starting from the Helderberg Hilltowns, John Boyd Thacher State Park in Voorheesville is perched atop the Helderberg Escarpment, with panoramic views of the Hudson-Mohawk valleys and the Adirondack and Green mountains. After hiking along the park’s Indian Ladder Trail, take a nine-minute drive to Indian Ladder Farms in Altamont. Kids can pick apples and pet farm animals and parents can unwind at the cidery and brewery tasting room. Lastly, at Falls View Park, marvel at Cohoes Falls, New York State’s second largest waterfall. Where to eat: Nine Pin Cider, New York's first farm cidery, has a tasting room in Albany’s Warehouse District, with a rotating selection. Find a traditional or a new flavorful spin on the apple cider donut at Cider Belly Doughnuts, in the heart of downtown Albany. Afternoon sun on sunset rock during Autumn, overlooking North-South Lake in the Catskills Mountains of New York. ©lightphoto/Getty Images Road Trip 3: Hudson Valley Where to stop: From New York City, first explore the lower Hudson Valley river towns, beginning in Tarrytown at the Lyndhurst Mansion along the Hudson River. Next, drive north to Garrison to see the Manitoga/The Russel Wright Design Center, the former home of industrial designer Russel Wright. Then, Dia:Beacon is a contemporary art museum in a Nabisco box-printing factory, whose exterior grounds were designed by artist Robert Irwin. Head to the Walkway Over the Hudson, the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge connecting Poughkeepsie and Highland. From Highland, drive north approximately 25 minutes to Kingston to check out the historic waterfront district. Pumpkin and apple picking can be done at Samascott Farm Orchard and Golden Harvest Farms in nearby Valatie. Where to eat: In Tarrytown, stop by the Sweet Grass Grill for a local and seasonal focused meal. In Kingston, Outdated Café has a range of salads, egg dishes, and more; purchase antiques too. For drinks, hot spots include River Outpost Brewing (Peekskill), Wolf & Warrior (White Plains), Decadent Ales (Mamaroneck), Sing Sing Kill (Ossining) and Captain Lawrence Brewing Company (Elmsford). Road Trip 4: Central New York Where to stop: From the North, the Scenic Byway - Route 20’s scenery offers unique of shopping experiences. Lake Classic Outfitters will fit the bill at Sam Smith’s Boatyard and The Blue Mingo Grill overlooking Otsego Lake. In Cooperstown, find not only the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, but also the Fenimore Art Museum and The Farmers’ Museum. Main Street is the visitor hub with baseball-themed shops, eateries and the home of Doubleday Field. Where to eat: Grab a bite to eat and an ice cream with a life-sized Elvis statue at Jerry’s Place just before reaching Cooperstown. Brooks’ House of BBQ is how to fill your belly when traveling from Oneonta in the south, or try a Bohemian-feel, experiential meal at Origins. In Cooperstown, Alex’s Bistro is a local favorite with flavor concoctions unmatched. The Middle Falls At Letchworth State Park In New York. ©Jim Vallee/Shutterstock Road Trip 5: Finger Lakes Where to stop: This trip takes you from Canandaigua along Routes 5 and 20 and down to Naples, home of the grape pie. County Road #12 Scenic Overlook, Kershaw Park and Onanda Park in Canandaigua offer scenic vistas and fresh lake water. In Naples, go to Artizanns for NY made souvenirs and stop by any of the local stands for Grape Pie. In Canandaigua, there’s a cute Main Street with all kinds of shops and a couple of roof top bars. Take a fun farm diversion to go to Lazy Acres Alpacas in Bloomfield. Finger Lakes National Forest, the only national forest in New York State, is located on a ridge between Seneca and Cayuga lakes with over 30 miles of interconnecting trails. They include the 12-mile Interloken Trail, which is part of the Finger Lakes Trail Association network. The Keuka Lake Outlet Trail lies between the villages of Penn Yan and Dresden and measures nearly seven miles of wooded trail and along waterfalls. Where to eat: Ethnic diversity is noticeable in Canandaigua’s restaurant scene or check the craft breweries in the area. In Naples. Monica’s Pies is known for its grape pie and Brew and Brats at Arbor Hill has locally made sausages, pies, wine and beers.
Spend some time on the sand watching these beach web cams
With beachside vacations being put on hold with coronavirus-related closures, there’s an alternative way to access sand and surf – right from your screen. Across United States, the nation’s beaches are being represented on screen from coast to coast. Embrace these picturesque views across the United States through these web cams. In California, view Doran Beach in Bodega Bay’s Doran National Park in Sonoma County beach. Torrance Beach’s webcam captures this 1.5 mile stretch of sand. Meanwhile in Monterey County, the Tickle Pink Inn in Carmel keeps a camera’s eye on the Big Sur Coastline. In San Diego, the landmark Hotel del Coronado shows off its sandy scene online. On Visit California’s website, take a 360 degree VR experience along California’s North Coast Beaches; catch more of the Golden State’s beaches through LiveBeaches.com. Wisconsin’s Madeline Island, the largest of the state’s Apostle Islands, is home to the two-mile Big Bay Beach along with Big Bay State Park. In South Carolina, see different parts of Myrtle Beach through this EarthCam plus Edisto Beach on Edisto Island can be seen through video too. In Virginia Beach, view various filming angles of this coastal city, including its boardwalk, along with the waterside community of Sandbridge. The Wildwoods, NJ lights up with nine cameras throughout this five-mile island capturing its boardwalks and beaches. Also, find different feeds of the Jersey Shore beaches, from Asbury Park to Atlantic City and Cape May. Other Jersey beaches range from Jenkinson’s Point Pleasant Beach to Bay Head. Long Island, New York has live cameras on locations, including Long Beach, with its 2.2-mile boardwalk; Main Beach in East Hampton; Coopers Beach in Southampton; and Fire Island. Florida has their beaches covered and can be seen through the Visit Florida website. However, their respective regions are also showing their sand off. Paradise Coast is experiencing cameras across Naples and Marco Island, while The Palm Beaches have their eight beach cams collectively on one website; Florida Keys and Key West have a wide variety of water and beach view web cams. Also in Florida, South Walton is streaming Alys Beach and Grayton Beach and Grayton Dunes in Grayton Beach State Park. Pensacola Beach can be screened with east, west and south views. St. Pete/Clearwater through four live beach webcams of Clearwater Beach, Indian Rocks Beach and two different views of St. Pete Beach. Or check out Miami's sand scene with these beach cams.
How to find the cheapest Mediterranean cruise and hit the seas for under $200
Whether you’re gazing upon the Trevi Fountain in Rome, dining on baguettes in the South of France, or trying to wrap your head around the Acropolis in Athens, a Mediterranean cruise is the trip of a lifetime. When to book a Mediterranean cruise Booking far in advance (two years or more) or relatively last minute (two months or less) can often find you cheaper prices. June, July and August tend to be the busiest, and most expensive, months to take a Mediterranean cruise. Your money will often go further if you plan for the shoulder seasons in spring and fall, when the weather is still reliable, if chillier and grayer. Winter will get you even steeper discounts and fewer crowds, but in most cases, it lacks the sunshine and warm weather the Mediterranean is known for, and you’ll have fewer daylight hours to explore. How to find the best cruise deals Discount sites like Expedia, Kayak, or cruise-specific sites like Cruise Critic can lead to excellent prices. Cruises typically set their rates as per-person with an assumed double occupancy, or as per-day prices. Consider what’s included in that price. For longer trips, is there self-service laundry on board, or is there a fee? Are drinks – coffee, alcohol, juices, sodas – included? What are your food options, and what to reviews say about food quality? You’ll be spending a lot of time on the ship, so know what you’re paying for. Below, we’ve tried to give you an idea of the cheapest Mediterranean cruise options. Everything is in per-person rates. MSC and Costa dominate as the lowest-priced options (under $500) when it comes to Mediterranean itineraries, although Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean will sometimes have deals of note. How to choose a Western Mediterranean vs. Eastern Mediterranean cruises Both areas have Unesco World Heritage sites, unbeatable local cuisine and excellent shopping. Western cruises in the budget realm tend to focus on Spain, France, Tunisia, and western parts of Italy, such as Genoa and Rome. Eastern Mediterranean cruises hit Italian destinations like Venice, as well as Greece, Montenegro and Croatia. If you’re most thrilled by warm sandy beaches, the Eastern Mediterranean will be the best choice. Some Eastern Mediterranean itineraries may also include Albania or as far as Turkey and Middle Eastern countries, though we couldn’t find them on any budget itineraries. The best budget Western Mediterranean cruises If you want to keep your cruise real short, MSC runs deals on single-night itineraries from one western Mediterranean city to another for less than $100 per person. For example, as of this writing, there are April 2020 overnights from Genoa, Italy, to Marseille, France or Barcelona, Spain for $69. Keep an eye out for MSC’s promotional deals, which often include a 2-for-1 price with kids sailing free. For example, an eight day, seven night sailing on MSC Poesia (one of the most elegant ships in MSC’s fleet) to Italy, France, Spain and Tunisia in November starts as little as $389. On Costa Cruises, a three-night western Mediterranean itinerary can be as cheap as $231 in October, sailing to Marseille, Barcelona and Genoa. This one is on their Costa Magica ship, which attracts a lot of Italian cruisers and has Italian-themed decor to match. If you’re the plan-ahead type, you can spend three days visiting Rome, Naples and Barcelona on Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas, currently the world’s second largest cruise ship, for less than $400 per person, but you’ll need to book as far out as October 2021. When it comes to high season prices, the newly-launched Costa Smerelda sails to Barcelona, Palma, Cagliari, Rome, Savona, and Marseilles for as low as $669 in June. Bonus: the ship was designed to use 100% liquefied natural petrol to cut exhaust emissions. Royal Caribbean International’s best deal is a seven night trip in August through Italy, Spain and France on Explorer of the Seas – which has an ice skating rink, surf simulator, and rock climbing wall onboard – for $754. The best budget Eastern Mediterranean cruises: Eastern Italy, Croatia, Greece, Montenegro Limited on time and money? See three countries in four days for $279 aboard the MSC Musica in October, which sails to Greece, Montenegro and Venice, Italy. For folks with more vacation days, spend seven nights on the MSC Lirica to see several spots in Italy, Croatia, Montenegro, and Greece for $347. When it comes to the high season, Costa has a late May steal of a deal for a seven night cruise for $649 on the Costa Deliziosa, a relatively small ship with room for less than 2,300 passengers. This route stops in Venice and Bari, Italy, as well as several ports in Greece. Royal Caribbean International has seven night July itineraries that explore Greece and Croatia for less than $800 on Rhapsody of the Seas, which has run numerous awards from Cruise Critic, including 2018’s best dining, best entertainment, best overall cruise ship, and best value. A seven-day trip on the Celebrity Infinity in late June hovers around $940, likely because the ship is getting a planned major overhaul later in the year. But hey, it’s still a great way to Venice, Split, Kotor, Corfu, Naples and Rome, and people regularly praise the variety of restaurants onboard, renovation or not.
Couples Getaways That Actually Rock
The traditional "romantic getaway" is a bore, and we're here to put it out of its misery. These days, when you and yours hit the road, chances are you're not that interested in chocolates on your pillow or a complimentary bottle of bubbly. Adventure, self-improvement, and bragging rights to friends are higher on both of your to-do lists. From driving a race car to sleeping in a tree, from dabbling in legal weed to learning actual survival skills, here are the trips every couples should take. 1. NASCAR Fantasies (Walter Arce/Dreamstime) You can’t hurry love, they say, but adrenaline junkies already in love can experience speed in its own right at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia (atlantamotorspeedway.com), about 20 miles south of Atlanta. There’s a range of opportunities at this professional race track, from backseat ride-alongs with a pro in a NASCAR race car to doing a few high-velocity laps around the speedway on your own. Not to worry—plenty of instruction is provided. And the best part? Nobody has to fight about driving directions. 2. Treehouse Dreams (Courtesy Henry County Convention & Visitors Bureau) The landscapes of Georgia's state parks will take your breath away, for sure, but there are few better views than the ones from above, like you'll get from a vantage point the treetops. Yes, up in the branches. At Georgia's 100-acre Panola Mountain (gastateparks.org/PanolaMountain/Excursions), you can lock on your harness, climb up a tree, and settle in for the night in incredibly unique, secluded boat-like quarters with the ZZZs in the Trees program. If an overnight at high altitude is too much, daylong tree climbing lessons will get you back on the ground faster than you ascended. 3. Toke Up and Chill More and more states are passing laws to make marijuana legal, but few can compete with Colorado, an early adopter, when it comes to the variety of ways and places to go green. An influx of the cannabis curious has turned Denver's pot tourism is a budding industry, if you will. You can hire a livery service like THC Limo (greentripz.com) to get your trip started the moment you leave the airport or go high into the mountains with bud-friendly charter S.U.V.s (420friendlyskiresorttransportation.com). You and your honey can take part in stoner painting classes (puffpassandpaint.com). Chefs at select restaurants will prepare cannabis-centric multicourse meals, or you can hone your own cooking skills at Stir Cooking Schools, where instructors include graduates of the prestigious Johnson & Wales culinary school. Apps like Weedmaps (weedmaps.com) and Leafly (leafly.com) can help you navigate the city’s many dispensaries. But it’s the dizzying array of activities offered on My 420’s three-day tours (my420tours.com) that get the highest ratings. A “cannabis concierge” will custom design an agenda that can include everything from cannabis oil massages to dinners to visits to growing labs to make sure you go home mellow. 4. Learn How to Survive With Each Other (Milosk50/Dreamstime) For tens of thousands of years before it was a blockbuster television series (for tens of thousands of years before there were televisions, in fact) you had to be a survivor just to, well, survive. At Boulder Outdoor Survival School (boss-inc.com), you’ll get back to nature in gorgeous, remote southern Utah and learn how to make it work for you. BOSS’s website makes it explicitly clear that this is not a Rambo-style boot camp or a prepper’s course for the apocalypse, but nor is it for the faint of heart. Or the faint of will. You and yours will get schooled in the basics with living skills courses (7 or 14 days), which teach basic survival; a 14-day program called Desert Navigator that involves trekking with compasses and maps; and general field courses (7, 14, or 28 days) that set you free in nature without tents, sleeping bags, or technology. For the truly committed, there's the ultra-intense, 72-hour survival rescue course. Get through any of these together, and you know your relationship is ironclad. 5. Three-ring Circus for Beginners There are plenty of reasons to plan a trip to Santa Fe—the weather in the wintertime, the vibrant modern-meets-folk-arts scene, the epic margaritas, the knockout landscape. And, lest we forget, the circus school. Seriously. Wise Fool (wisefoolnewmexico.org) offers a variety of classes, with lessons in everything from handstands to juggling to aerial skills (care to swing in a hoop, anyone?) to soaring on a trapeze. Classes, which run about 90 minutes, are available throughout the year on a drop-in basis and cost $12 to $15 per session. (Pro tip: There’s typically more space in daytime than nighttime classes.) Couples can also schedule private lessons. Gift certificates are available. Just make sure that if it inspires you to run away and join the circus, the decision is mutual. 6. Carnivores' Delight Lots of foodies head to California for the wine, but those looking beyond the glass can test their mettle with farm life in Siskiyou, a tranquil county in the state’s northernmost region. Schedule a summertime escape at Belcampo Farms, where the three-day Meat Camp (belcampo.com/meatcamp) each June delivers a thorough education on grilling, butchery, and knife skills. But it’s not entirely rugged. You’ll retire to luxury tents to reboot for the next day. For even more committed aspiring butchers, old-world traditions and sustainable agriculture are the foundation of Camp Charcuterie (campcharcuterie.com), a seven-day full-immersion experience in France where you'll learn farmstead charcuterie production, hands-on butchery, food-safety measures, and more from a roster of top-notch chefs and butchers. Those that can’t get up and disappear to the French countryside can learn at the workshops and classes offered at different culinary schools and markets around the U.S. The Chopping Block (thechoppingblock.com/butchery-boot-camp), which has two locations in Chicago, holds day-long bootcamps that teach basic techniques like cutting, trimming, de-boning, and more, then wrap up with a meal participants cook themselves. Fleishers Craft Butchers (shop.fleishers.com) has a busy calendar of intensive classes—both hands-on and demo-based—in New York City and Connecticut. 7. Drink Up American History (Volgariver/Dreamstime) Each year, hundreds of thousands of whiskey-lovers flock to Kentucky to indulge in the embarrassment of riches that is America’s bourbon heritage. While there is an official Bourbon Trail of distilleries as well as an Urban Bourbon Trail that guides you through Louisville’s various whiskey bars, you’re left on your own to explore. For a full guided experience, Louisville-based Mint Julep Tours (mintjuleptours.com) offers more than just distillery visits, though each stop at one of the historic bourbon maker includes a tasting and even, if you're lucky, a chance to pull whiskey straight from the barrel, all of which makes the tour a worthwhile decision. You can customize your day to include particular distilleries as well as a visit to a local cooperage to watch barrels get raised and charred or a mixology class. They’ll take you from stop to stop (typically three to four in a day) in a posh SUV. 8. Take a Very Modern Look at an Ancient Roman City Pompeii, the ancient Roman city in southern Italy that was nearly wiped out by a volcano eruption in 79 AD, is a sweeping archaeological site regarded as one of the greatest snapshots of ancient life, what with it essentially frozen in time in the moment it was buried under ash. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it sees about 2.5 million visitors each year. Few, however, experience it in action, getting an intimate view of how it likely functioned thousands of years ago, the way you can with Flashback Journey to Pompeii (journeytopompeiitours.com). Snap on a 3D virtual reality headset and you’ll be whisked back to the center of a bustling metropolis. You can join a small group or opt for a private tour. And with Pompeii situated near Naples and surrounded by small villas, there’s no reason not to plan a romantic Italian getaway while you’re at it.
10 Islands to See Before You Die
If you're going to imagine yourself on an exotic island, dare to dream big! Here are 10 one-of-a-kind islands where you'll discover every item on your wish list, from overwater bungalows and pristine wildlife to sublime street food and mysterious cultural monuments. Of course, traveling to these islands comes at a price; the dollar signs below provide a general indication of how much you'll want to budget for accommdations and food. Multiply by seven if you stay a week or by 365 if you're convinced to quit your job and stay a year. $: $1–$74 $$: $75–$149 $$$: $150–$224 $$$$: $225–Up SEE THE ISLANDS! 1. VIEQUES When the U.S. Navy packed up and left Vieques in 2003, after more than 60 years, it left something behind: unspoiled nature. Land once used for bombing practice is now designated as a national wildlife refuge. So far there are only a few mega-resorts like those found on the Puerto Rican mainland—instead, you'll find homey inns like the aptly named Great Escape B&B, where breakfast is served poolside (from $115). There are only two notable towns (the population is less than 10,000): Isabel Segunda on the northern side of the island, and the far smaller Esperanza on the south. The effect is that when you reach a beach at the end of a dirt road here, your reward is having the sand largely to yourself. Playa de la Chiva (Blue Beach) attracts daytime snorkelers and divers, but the real reason Vieques belongs on your bucket list is Puerto Mosquito. Of the seven bioluminescent bays on the planet, Puerto Mosquito is the most impressive, thanks to the clarity and brightness of its waters. Schedule a moonless night for a swim or kayak tour and you'll be greeted by billions of micro-organisms called dinoflagellates that ignite the water with a magical blue-green glow (Aqua Frenzy Kayaks, from $30 per person). It's like swimming in a watercolor painting. $$ >>Related: Dream Trips: Find a Deserted Beach 2. EASTER ISLAND With the nearest major landmass, Chile, lying 2,200 miles away, Easter Island is as remote as it is mysterious. No one knows exactly why nearly 900 gargantuan stone monoliths are sprinkled across this isolated, 60-square-mile scrap of land in the middle of the South Pacific—and those long, stone faces aren't talking. For several hundred years, the moai that are unique to this island have maintained their silent sentinel even as the civilization that created them collapsed and a trickle of tourists appeared in its wake. Intended to stand atop cut-stone altars (called ahu), the moai average 13 feet high and weigh nearly 14 tons each; most lie prone, toppled by civil wars in the 17th and 18th centuries. A particularly compelling spot is Rano Raraku, the collapsed volcano where many moai were quarried and where nearly 400 figures remain, all frozen in various states of completion. The island counts only one town, Hanga Roa, where you'll want to check in to Vai Moana, a low-key hotel with 18 rooms set in bungalows (from $102, including breakfast and transport to and from the airport). You can then wander from the volcanic coastline across grassy hills without bumping into another human being who might break Easter Island's spell. $$$ 3. BALI The warm, spiritual essence that writer Elizabeth Gilbert discovered here and celebrated in Eat, Pray, Love has been native to Bali for centuries. It's one of 17,000 islands in the Indonesian archipelago—and the only one on which Hindus form the majority (93 percent). Even more striking is the fact that there is a spiritual celebration here nearly every day. Three Hindu temples at the Besakih (the Mother Temple of Bali) survived a 1963 eruption that destroyed nearby villages while missing by mere yards this terraced complex atop volcanic Mount Agung. The event is still considered a miracle by locals, who arrive in regular procession; they balance offerings on their head and climb the steps to the sound of mantras, jingling bells, and the sharp flutter of umbul-umbuls (ceremonial Balinese flags). Anyone interested in exploring the inner self might like the Nirarta Centre, an 11-room hotel set amid rice terraces and gardens that holds daily meditation sessions. After finding your center here, channel your energy into jungle treks, scuba diving, and big-break surfing along beaches of fine white and volcanic black sand. Exhale against a backdrop of rice paddies and Impressionist sunsets that illuminate the Indian Ocean. $$$$ >>Related: Secret Islands of Southeast Asia 4. ISCHIA This volcanic island in the Bay of Naples has hot springs so therapeutic that they have drawn admirers for 2,000 years. Greeks, Romans, and Turks quickly discovered that Ischia's fumaroles, hot springs, and heated mud hold the power to ease sore muscles—or simply provide a degree of self-indulgence. Today's travelers are likewise pampered by massages and mud wraps courtesy of the island's geothermal characteristic, which helps fill the 22 thermo-mineral pools of the beachfront spa Giardini di Poseidon Terme. After your treatment of choice, peel off the sandals for a walk on the beach, a visit to the 15th-century Castello Aragonese, or a glass of biancolella (white) or per 'e palummo (red) wine from local vineyards. You can also get a taste of the glam, jet-setter lifestyle associated with Italy and depicted in the film The Talented Mr. Ripley, shot here on location. Retreat to the family-run Hotel Villa Angelica, whose garden naturally includes a thermal swimming pool with a Jacuzzi (from $75, including breakfast). $$$ 5. CHILOÉ The lush, cloud-covered Chiloé archipelago may lie off the western coast of Chile, but its history, customs, and language bear little resemblance to those of the mainland, or anywhere else in the world, because of its isolation. Local farmers have passed down a mythology of gnome- and witch-filled woodlands and ghost ships. Valdivian temperate rain forests are protected within Parque Nacional Chiloé. In the Pacific, dolphins, penguins, otters, and the largest creatures in history—blue whales—are studied and protected by the Cetacean Conservation Center. In the central city of Castro, order a steaming meal of curanto (shellfish, meat, and potatoes) and peruse handicrafts made of wood and colorful garments created from Chilean wool. Residents still live in traditional palafitos (stilt houses). Jesuit missionaries, who first arrived in small numbers in the 1600s, used local materials and construction techniques to build exquisite chapels. Their work survives in more than 50 wooden churches found in communities such as Castro, Nercón, Chonchi, Dalcahue, and Quinchao; their appearance reflects a hybrid of European and indigenous styles that you won't find anywhere else on earth. $$ 6. BORA BORA If you envision yourself on an island in French Polynesia, Bora Bora is the place to hang your hammock. Even novelist James Michener, who penned sweeping epics set in the South Pacific and beyond, dubbed it the world's most beautiful island. Mingled in among the Society Islands northwest of Tahiti, Bora Bora's lowland reefs and islets are lorded over by Mount Pahia and Mount Otemanu, twin peaks forming an extinct volcano in the island's interior. Super-expensive upscale resorts along the western edge—and a fair share of inns and vacation rentals—feature overwater thatch-roofed bungalows built on stilts above shallow, clear-as-gin waters. (Maitai Resort is a comparatively affordable option, considering the $800-plus competition, with rooms from $198 and bungalows from $408, including taxes.) Slip on a sarong and relax while savoring the vision of endless miles of soft sand beaches and lagoons. Luxurious, certainly, but of even greater value is the philosophy of Bora Bora's residents: Aita pea pea. In other words, "not to worry." $$$$ >>Related: Overwater Bungalows: Stay Literally on the Ocean 7. KEY WEST Laid-back, beach-y living coupled with a flamboyant arts scene lends a one-of-a-kind appeal to this lowland island (peak elevation: 18 feet). Key West inspired Mississippi-born balladeer Jimmy Buffett, and it remains hallowed ground for his followers—the "parrotheads" that roost here throughout the year and keep the mythical utopia of Margaritaville alive. Tennessee Williams, Harry S. Truman, and Ernest Hemingway were also seduced. Defying easy categorization, Key West is capital of the Conch Republic, the tongue-in-cheek micro-nation created in 1982 by residents proud of their liberal lifestyle. Natural sand beaches are surprisingly rare here, but with the chance to snorkel above North America's only living coral reef and enjoy the company of a Technicolor collection of 400 species of tropical fish, it would be a shame to spend your beach time on land, anyway. When you've dried off, head to Mallory Square to catch street performers during the daily Sunset Celebration. Follow it up with brews along the "Duval Crawl," a tour of watering holes in the early 20th-century buildings that line Duval Street. From there, it's a pleasant, 15-minute walk to the Grand Guesthouse (from $98, including breakfast). $$$ 8. PENANG Start your food crawl at stalls that crowd the streets of Georgetown, Penang's largest city and Malaysia's food capital. The delectable fare on offer memorably mingles Malaysian, Chinese, Indian, and European flavors. Foodies in search of supreme bliss should head to the marketplace Ayer Itam—adjacent to Kek Lok Si (the Temple of Supreme Bliss)—to dine on a variety of dishes based on rice, noodles, fish, shellfish, chicken, pork, vegetables, eggs, and coconut. Look for lor bak (deep-fried marinated minced pork served with a chili sauce); lok-lok (skewered seafood, meats, and vegetables); and ikan bakar (grilled or barbecued fish marinated in spices and coconut milk, wrapped inside banana leaves, and grilled over hot coals). The same fusion of cultures is evident in the local architecture, which ranges from modern high-rises to buildings built by 19th-century British colonialists. Add to the mix beach resorts, preserved mangroves, small fishing villages, and a share of temples, mosques, and churches. Kek Lok Si best exemplifies this coexistence. At seven stories, it's the largest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia, and it reflects the shared values of Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism—designed with a Chinese octagonal base, a Thai-accented middle tier, and a Burmese-style peak. $$ >>Related: 7 Little-Known Islands: Get There First 9. GALÁPAGOS ISLANDS The namesake tortoise is only one reason to explore this archipelago overrun with more than 500 spectacular native species found nowhere else. Charles Darwin's 1835 visit sparked his curiosity, leading to his landmark book and the observation that these islands are the "laboratory of evolution." Much of the biological kaleidoscope noted by Darwin—such as penguins, sea lions, finches, blue-footed boobies—is still visible on the Galápagos, which are scattered more than 600 miles west of Ecuador. Look out for the waved albatross, which has a 7- to 8-foot wingspan, on Española. Tour operators navigate the islands on everything from luxury catamarans to motor yachts, and many employ naturalists to guide you through the archipelago's rocky coasts, lagoons, coral reefs, bays and white sand beaches. Gap Adventures offers small-group itineraries that often include meals, airfare from Quito, and a cabin aboard a 16-passenger ship. Life on the island is only half the equation, so pack your mask, snorkel, and wet suit. $$$$ 10. PALM ISLANDS DUBAI Nature creates and removes islands every day, but it took a supernatural influx of cash and credit to create what developers hope will be the permanent Palm Island archipelago. Based on a sketch by a sheikh, the world's largest man-made islands are being dredged up and put in place as destination resorts: the Palm Jumeirah, Palm Jebel Ali, and Palm Deira. Each work-in-progress is designed to attract tourists, who (more than fossil fuels) can provide a renewable source of income. If all goes well, the three islands will be the focal point of Dubai and become a Middle East playground of spas, resorts, upscale residences, villas, and superior shopping malls. Palm Jumeriah is already in place with an Atlantis resort and its wild water park open and a Trump hotel slated to open in 2011. (A more concrete, if off-island option, is the Arabian Courtyard, whose rooms have hardwood floors and richly colored upholstery, with prices as low as $100 a night.) Some islands might be more exotic—and certainly less expensive—but none are more impossibly engineered and ambitious. $$$$
More Places to go
Fort Myers Beach
For generations Fort Myers Beach has been a favorite vacation destination for visitors from the U.S., Canada and around the world.
Fort Myers, or Ft. Myers, is the county seat and commercial center of Lee County, Florida, United States. As of the 2010 U.S. Census, the population was 62,298 and in 2019 was estimated at 87,103. Together with the larger and more residential Cape Coral, it anchors a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) which comprises Lee County and has a population of 770,577 in 2019. Fort Myers is a gateway to the Southwest Florida region and a major tourist destination within Florida. The winter estates of Thomas Edison ("Seminole Lodge") and Henry Ford ("The Mangoes") are major attractions. The city is named after Colonel Abraham Myers, the quartermaster general of the Confederate States Army.
Port Charlotte is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) in Charlotte County, Florida, United States. The population was 54,392 at the 2010 census. It is part of the Punta Gorda, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area. Port Charlotte was named to Forbes' list of "25 Best Towns to Retire", listed among the ten best places in the United States to avoid for the year 2012 by U.S. News & World Report, and was ranked at #1 in CNNMoney.com's 2009 list of 25 Best Places to Retire.
The Everglades is a natural region of tropical wetlands in the southern portion of the U.S. state of Florida, comprising the southern half of a large drainage basin within the Neotropical realm. The ecosystem it forms is not presently found anywhere else on earth. The system begins near Orlando with the Kissimmee River, which discharges into the vast but shallow Lake Okeechobee. Water leaving the lake in the wet season forms a slow-moving river 60 miles (97 km) wide and over 100 miles (160 km) long, flowing southward across a limestone shelf to Florida Bay at the southern end of the state. The Everglades experience a wide range of weather patterns, from frequent flooding in the wet season to drought in the dry season. Throughout the 20th century, the Everglades suffered significant loss of habitat and environmental degradation. Human habitation in the southern portion of the Florida peninsula dates to 15,000 years ago. Before European colonization, the region was dominated by the native Calusa and Tequesta tribes. With Spanish colonization, both tribes declined gradually during the following two centuries. The Seminole, formed from mostly Creek people who had been warring to the North, assimilated other peoples and created a new culture after being forced from northern Florida into the Everglades during the Seminole Wars of the early 19th century. After adapting to the region, they were able to resist removal by the United States Army. Migrants to the region who wanted to develop plantations first proposed draining the Everglades in 1848, but no work of this type was attempted until 1882. Canals were constructed throughout the first half of the 20th century, and spurred the South Florida economy, prompting land development. In 1947, Congress formed the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control Project, which built 1,400 miles (2,300 km) of canals, levees, and water control devices. The Miami metropolitan area grew substantially at this time and Everglades water was diverted to cities. Portions of the Everglades were transformed into farmland, where the primary crop was sugarcane. Approximately 50 percent of the original Everglades has been developed as agricultural or urban areas.Following this period of rapid development and environmental degradation, the ecosystem began to receive notable attention from conservation groups in the 1970s. Internationally, UNESCO and the Ramsar Convention designated the Everglades a Wetland Area of Global Importance. The construction of a large airport 6 miles (10 km) north of Everglades National Park was blocked when an environmental study found that it would severely damage the South Florida ecosystem. With heightened awareness and appreciation of the region, restoration began in the 1980s with the removal of a canal that had straightened the Kissimmee River. However, development and sustainability concerns have remained pertinent in the region. The deterioration of the Everglades, including poor water quality in Lake Okeechobee, was linked to the diminishing quality of life in South Florida's urban areas. In 2000 the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan was approved by Congress to combat these problems, which at that time was considered the most expensive and comprehensive environmental restoration attempt in history; however, implementation faced political complications.