Last week in this column some vacation areas you might consider to travel to this year were suggested: Yellowstone National Park, Washington, D.C., San Diego, San Francisco, Yosemite National Park, Hawaii, Las Vegas and Orlando, Fla. Today, I am going to suggest additional points of interest to consider for a getaway in 2013.
How about Colorado? Beyond the state’s celebrated ski slopes you will find world-class hiking, mountain biking and fishing. Its capital, Denver, offers several festivals each year and a growing number of microbreweries. The state’s ski resorts are usually open year-round and vacationers are encouraged to visit them in off-ski-season. Colorado’s mountains are famous the world over, with good highways throughout the state. This is a state in which you seem to feel clean and fresh; with its great air, open skies, nice people and lots of activities.
The Seattle area in the Pacific Northwest has plenty to offer. Don’t visit looking for the best weather and sunny skies most every day — the area is green, green, green, which means frequent rain. What it does have is a laid-back environment and some fine choices in cafés and bars, very scenic surroundings, plenty of salt air and the Pacific Ocean all around. You have the pleasures of Pike Place Market, where you can find the best seafood in the world, fine shopping opportunities and cozy places to hang out. There are scenic drives and fine entertainment. Plan to spend at least three days here as part of your roaming the territory. You can board a ferry and have an all-day cruise, stopping at some of the nearby islands. Bring a warm sweater and coat just in case.
Closer to home is the lovely town of Sedona. You can breathe the clean air as you marvel at the majestic red hues, bizarre rock formations, do rock climbing and hike the several trails. Sedona offers several boutique resorts and spas along with so-called New Age destinations. There are some very fine restaurants, as well as shopping opportunities for fine art creations to fun items. Be sure to make hotel reservations in advance and cruise the Web for activities that are happening during the time you will be there.
New Orleans is an American city unlike any other. The culture is more unique than most. This is a melting pot of age-old influences ranging from the Caribbean to European to the Acadians (Cajuns) of the early Canada’s Maritime Provinces. Its personality is like no other.
The city and its residents are still making a comeback from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina several years ago, however, the historically famous jazz clubs, bars, unique restaurants and architecture remain to the delight of visitors from around the world.
The French Quarter is the place to spend most of your time; you will walk your legs off with surprises around almost every corner. You might even take a day and cruise up the Mississippi River on an old paddle-wheeler.
Explore the place for details for visitors on the Web before traveling there.
Florida offers visitors tremendous diversity — from the oldest continuously occupied town in the country, San Augustine, to the modern metropolises of Miami and Miami Beach. Plan to stay in Miami Beach, as it is really the center of most activity for the traveler. Here you will find a party scene with a laid-back beach vibe, which may be a winning combination. The weather is perfect almost year-around with plenty of sun, fine hotels — some of which are of the 1930s art deco variety and have been updated with modern conveniences — and award-winning restaurants. Don’t plan to be on a diet here. The food is too good! At least once during a visit, drop into a Jewish deli and feast on a three-inch high sandwich filled with various selections of meats accompanied by Kosher dill pickles, coleslaw or potato salad.
The summer heat here is quite severe so you may wish to visit in the spring or fall.
Since you are in Florida, if time and budget permits, why not board one of the many cruise ships that will sail you to the popular Caribbean islands. Most offer one-week cruises that will include usually three ports of call. The most popular would be St. Thomas, Jamaica and St. Martin. However, all the islands are really fine for good beaches, sun and water sports and perhaps some shopping. When you book your room on the ship reserve one with a balcony. It’s worth the extra money! It will be your outside space without all the other passengers milling about. The most popular cruise lines are: Royal Caribbean Cruises, Carnival and NCL. Many others can give you a little more upscale experiences such as Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and Celebrity Cruises.
If you have never cruised before, consult an experienced travel agent and get their opinion about which cruise lines you should select.
The Mediterranean area is growing in popularity with Americans. Most cruises are from 7 to 14 days in length and visit some of the most interesting and fabled cities and areas in Europe. Baltic cruises of the same length are also becoming very popular, since most visit one of the most interesting cities on earth, St. Petersburg, Russia with its famed museums, art collections and giant castles.
And, speaking of cruises, you should also consider one to Alaska this summer. The most popular are those that depart from Vancouver or Seattle and cruise the Inland Passage to very interesting ports in the state’s panhandle area. If you are afraid of motion sickness, this would be rare on the Inland Passage to Alaska. Most of the waters are protected by islands and coast line. We usually cruise this area on Holland America Line, but equally good are Princess and Celebrity. Cruise tours are also very popular. This is where part of the vacation is cruising and another part is an Alaskan land tour that usually includes Denali Park and some rail travel.
New York State
New York State is more than its famed namesake city. It has 62 counties, four mountain ranges and Niagara Falls. The central part of the state includes the Finger Lakes region with its wineries, gorges and recreation as well as the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Be sure to spend at least three days in New York City and take in a couple tours while there. If open, make sure to visit Radio City for one of their outstanding live shows and also try and get tickets to at least one Broadway show. You’ll never forget this city! It has it all ... entertainment, skyscrapers, more than 5,000 restaurants, interesting people, convenient transportation and more. However it is an expensive destination, so be prepared.
If you will be taking your children or grandchildren on vacation with you, it is sometimes a challenge to keep them interested during the time away from their friends. Perhaps a theme park is the answer to this problem. Disneyland in Orange County, Calif. is one of the can’t-miss destinations, along with its California Adventure theme park next door. It is all kid-friendly and you’ll have a selection of hotels and motels in which to stay. Bring a lot of money because it won’t be cheap. There will be live shows, a zillion attractions, shopping and dining experiences in four areas: Hollywood Pictures, Backlot, Golden State, Paradise Pier and A Bugs Land at Disneyland. You can all explore eight “theme lands”. This will keep the young ones talking for weeks. Or, you can take them on a week’s Disney Cruise to several different locations. Disney has four ships in the water now.
While in Southern California, also consider SeaWorld. The kids can ride a manta ray or get drenched by Shamu and see the teeth of a shark. There are now 10 SeaWorld Parks across the United States.
Six Flags is the world’s largest regional theme park company with 18 parks across the U.S. If you are traveling to see family, there may be a park near your destination.
Mexico may be interesting to some, with great deals available this year. Consult your travel agent for brochures and recommendations or cruise the Web. Remember, to visit Mexico and return to the United States you must have a passport or passport card.
No matter where you travel, have a wonderful time and may the weather treat you well.