America’S Favorite Vacation Spots

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Americans have various tastes when it comes to vacations. Some like camping; others prefer casino action in places like Las Vegas; while some would rather go to an interesting city and explore what it has to offer — and let’s not forget foreign travel and cruises.

Let’s begin with those that like cities. San Francisco has the reputation as one of the world’s most bohemian capitals. Many consider it to be the most East Coast-like city in the West. It is both laid back and cosmopolitan and offers many interesting sights and destinations. It is known for its hills, row houses, cable cars, water front, and fine dining including seafood at Fisherman’s Wharf, shopping at the Ferry Building and interesting destinations near San Francisco. Be sure to include a meal in Chinatown. If you visit here, you might also consider heading north into wine country or into the mountains for a stop at Lake Tahoe. The climate is rather cool here during most months so take appropriate clothing.

Washington, D.C. is always interesting and there is always something happening here. Plan at least three days for sightseeing. You will also want to include some of the Smithsonian Institutions museums — there are more than 50.

For your introduction, plan to book a day’s sightseeing of the major spots in D.C. and let the sightseeing company do the parking. Other days you can park near the various points of interest. Spring is always picturesque with the flowers and trees beginning to bloom; D.C. has fine restaurants too.

San Diego is always a pleaser, with its great weather, the ease in getting around, always near the ocean and wonderful beaches. The time to go if you want sun and a tan is during August and September after the “June Gloom” clouds have passed. San Diego has some of the best weather year-round of any city in the world.

There is also much to do here. Music, museums, parks, zoos, water and Mexico is but 30 miles away. However, I would not go to Mexico now with the drug war problem all over the border.

How about New York City? Here is a city that can be anything you want it to be.

It is famous for live theater, concerts, museums, shopping, dining, interesting people and much more. It is also very easy to get around in. Take public transportation and don’t worry about parking or make use of the taxi service — they are not that expensive.

Because there is so much to do, plan your stay carefully or you will run out of days. While here you can enjoy sampling a selection of cultures through your dining choices. Chinese, Arabian, Jewish and Japanese are just a few types of restaurants available to you. Italian is always good here. Ask around and you will get recommendations from the locals. If you purchase last minute theater tickets you usually can save quite a lot of money. You might consider taking the train out to Long Island to view a different New York area.

Yellowstone National Park is a favorite for those seeking nature travels. Here you will find geysers, hot springs, mountains, waterfalls, animals and almost everything you would expect in a far-away land. For this reason, it is also a great place to bring the young people. You won’t see these sights in towns and cities. The park is well managed and easy to navigate. You may camp or book a lodge or motel for your stay. Not far away are the Grand Tetons, which will dazzle the whole family with jagged mountain peaks as well as scenic lakes. We plan to drive there this coming May. You can also fly to the Tetons if you would prefer.

Maui is one of the stars of the Hawaiian group. Some say it is the best of the Hawaiian Islands because of weather, scenery, fine lodging and interesting dining. It is escapism at its finest. You can snorkel, swim, sightsee for whales, get a good tan, rest on the fine beaches, drive up to a volcano and so much more. You can also fly direct to Maui now without changing planes in Honolulu. Maui rarely disappoints.

Most travelers visit the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Caribbean by cruise ship, but you can also fly from the mainland and plan to stay a week or so to just relax, do a little shopping and perhaps take water taxis to some of the other nearby islands for some sightseeing. The climate will be almost perfect. It also has some very fine hotels in which to stay.

If you want islands with action, I suggest you consider Honolulu in Oahu first. Waikiki Beach is known the world over for its fine resorts and hotels, great dining of all types, an almost perfect beach and something to do almost every minute day or night. Several airlines fly direct from the mainland every day. Nowhere in Hawaii is inexpensive, but if you have the dollars, it will offer one of the best vacations you can experience. The best time to go is almost anytime. Spring and fall are usually the best time for most destinations.

Last summer we drove over to California to visit Santa Barbara, Lake Tahoe, Mammoth Lakes and the other star of our national parks system, Yosemite. If you want to stay at one of the lodges in the park you will have to book a room well in advance of your intended visit.

Yosemite is so popular that it fills up fast. The roads in and out are good, but plan to take your time. The scenery is mind-boggling. Yosemite is lakes, tall pines, rivers and streams and tall mountains wrapped into one park. You’ll never forget it! The entire area of the California High Sierras is worth a visit sometime.

We can’t pass up the one and only Las Vegas as an important vacation spot. It is basically a giant playground for grown-ups. Some of the best dining, shopping and nightlife in the world can be found here, all in the comfort of climate-controlled casinos. This is not a vacation for people looking for an enriching cultural experience, it is a getaway for people looking to escape the real world and unwind for a bit. And you can be as excessive as you choose. Be sure to see one or two shows although they are no longer inexpensive today. And, good luck in the casinos!

We have recently retuned from a few days in Orlando — Walt Disney World. Here is a place where the entire family can have a memorable vacation. Bring plenty of money, as Walt Disney World is expensive. You will find the Disney parks fun, well laid out and allowing the best vacation possible. Adults will find Epcot most fascinating.

A destination that is quite different is the city of New Orleans. It has a culture all its own and is known to many as the Big Easy.

Here is a melting pot of various cultures ranging from Caribbean to European. In some locations you feel as though you might be in a foreign country, especially in the French Quarter. When I think of New Orleans I usually think of fine dining. Some foods can only be found here and this helps to make the city so interesting. It has its own personality. When you visit, plan to stay in the French Quarter to make the most of your time. It was hit by a hurricane a few years ago, but it is now making a giant comeback and ready to welcome visitors. You’ll find the famous jazz, gumbo soup and seafood as one did years ago.

Have great fun this year on vacation.

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