We like to travel! Oh boy, do we! Our vacation budget often determines how far we can travel, how we travel and where we can afford. Most people have vacation wish lists and sometimes they can even be fulfilled. We were having lunch with a neighbor the other day and she said she would like to travel to Paris. She noted that this is one of the more expensive cities in the world, but hopes her wish comes true one day. I hope she can. Paris is one of the most beautiful and interesting cities in the world.
Recently, I was combing through several “Best Vacation” lists and few agree with one another. So, I’ll pick what I think to be the best vacation spots for 2013. If the kids travel with you, that is one thing, if not, it’s another.
Let’s first choose those destinations that will make for wonderful vacations with or without the kids. Yellowstone is tops on my list for several reasons.
It’s in a beautiful part of our country, has steaming geysers, bubbling hot springs, colorful pools, offers hiking trails and the opportunity to view animals up close. Park rangers present lectures at several locations. And Yellowstone is not that far from the rugged beauty of the Grand Tetons. You may even wish to visit Glacier National Park with its stunning beauty.
Every American should see Washington, D.C. at least once. You have famous landmarks such as the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, Ford’s Theater where Lincoln was shot, the Vietnam Memorial and much more. The 52 museums of the Smithsonian Institute offer so much with tremendous historical value. You’re going to be proud you are an American. The city was laid out by a Frenchman and shows it. There is a very European feel in the architecture. I suggest you take at least a one-day tour of this city, avoiding parking problems. You can book tours at your hotel or go directly to Union Station and purchase tickets there. It has been completely re-done and is not only for train movements, but an exciting shopping mall complete with a movie theatre. There are also several locations to dine within the station’s walls.
San Diego should be near the top of most vacation lists. It is no longer a rather sleepy Southern California city, but an exciting destination with entertainment all around you day and night. Some would say San Diego is the most well-rounded U.S. place to visit as it satisfies the needs of most travelers. You have the beautiful bay, parks, a world famous zoo, sporting culture and a vibrant downtown. The dining scene in old town is a must to explore, as are the many shops surrounding the restaurants.
You can go deep-sea fishing; take the kids to the Lego Park, which is a close drive northward; visit nautical museums; swim at several white sand beaches; and take a cruise tour of the bay. The city also has its own symphony orchestra and an open-air pipe organ at Balboa Park where there are concerts on Sunday afternoons during the summer. San Diego also offers some of the best weather in the United States.
San Francisco is also a favorite for U.S. travelers. It is the only city in the west that resembles an eastern U.S. city. Easterners love it! So will you after seeing the many sights it has to offer. Fisherman’s Wharf is a favorite with tourists as is the famous park, zoo and other landmark locations. You will want to drive over both the Golden Gate Bridge as well as the Bay Bridge.
You can take a sightseeing boat around the bay one day and on another day visit the old Ferry Building, which is now an interesting mall. Purchase a loaf of sourdough bread and take it to your hotel room for snacks. It’s the best, believe me. You might also put a little cheese and salami on it for additional flavor.
San Francisco has its famed trolley cars, so be sure to run up and down a few hills in San Francisco on trolleys with your camera. They are more than 100 years old now and remain on the rails offering city dwellers good transportation within certain sections of San Francisco.
You should also travel northward out of the city to the wine growing sections of California to enjoy wine tasting and perhaps lunch on the Wine Train. Include Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino on this visit.
Not that far from the bay area is one of the most beautiful national parks we have, Yosemite. If budget does not permit at least a two-day stay, you can simply drive through on the main highway to see the highlights. There is Half Dome and El Capitan, waterfalls and you can park and walk several hiking trails or even camp out in several developed areas. Avoid going to Yosemite in the winter because it’s quite cold and the wettest time. Be prepared for crowds and slow-moving traffic. However, it’s well worth the inconvenience. The main road through the park passes through the high walls of mountain scenery and is breathtaking with tall pines and lakes.
Another great area for Americans to vacation is Hawaii. Each island is unique in various ways and it’s up to each traveler to decide which one they prefer.
Maui offers almost perfect beaches with tall mountains, tropical landscapes, friendly people and very good accommodations. You can swim, rent a car and drive up one of the tallest mountains in the island chain, deep-sea fish, golf, or lie on the beach and get some sun. If you snorkel, this is a good place to go beneath the water. Or ride an Atlantis submarine to investigate the sea floor.
Another Hawaiian island to consider is Kauai. It is the oldest island in the chain and offers dramatic, natural beauty. You can explore the many perfect beaches. Rent a car and drive to Waimea Canyon, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, and book a boat ride to marvel at the towering cliffs of the Napali Coast. Some highlights also include: Poipu Beach Park, one of America’s best beaches, the spectacular sea cliffs on the north coast, and even fish inland on the Wailua River.
If you want Hawaiian action, visit the Honolulu/Waikiki area on Oahu. Here you will find thousands of tourists, great shopping, wonderful beaches, fine entertainment and dine on a typical Hawaiian meal with native music and dancing.
The Big Island, Hawaii, is the largest in the chain and is vast enough to hold 11 of the world’s 13 climatic zones — from sandy beaches to snow-capped mountains. You’ll find active volcanoes spewing rocks and ash over a large area and you may tour with a rented car or by an organized tour.
The Hawaiian Islands are made for almost perfect vacations.
Las Vegas is a favorite for many Americans. It is really a giant playground for adults. The city offers great dining, nightlife, which is some of the best in the world, and seems to be the perfect place for people to escape the real world. Look at it as an adult play park. Many people check into their deluxe hotel and never leave for days at a time. You have gaming, entertainment, fine dining, wonderful swimming pools, along with other attractions. There is so much to do in and around the city. You will need a rented car to do these. In the evening, life can be a New York type hustle.
Orlando, Fla. stands out as a prime adult or family vacation spot. You have the Disney and Universal Parks along with many other attractions, plus Animal Kingdom and Epcot. Check these out. You’ll see what I mean.
Next week I’ll talk about additional vacation spots you may wish to consider for travel this year.