While narrowing down the picks for Travel’s Best All-American Vacations 2015, you start to face facts: Our nation is both vast and wonderfully diverse, home to stunning white-sand deserts, towering redwood forests, snowcapped mountains and charming seaside towns. With so many natural wonders and man-made institutions, it’s impossible to distill the American experience into a single list. Each year, we try to show off the wealth of destinations that make it the US without repeating former picks such the Dakotas’ Black Hills and the island of Nantucket, MA.
Photo by Wade Eakle/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images
So what just missed the cut?
The thought of fleeing anywhere warm right now is particularly appealing since the damn groundhog saw his shadow and we’re stuck with 6 more weeks of winter. Admit it: Whether you were let down by Snowmageddon, brushed off record-breaking snow like the Midwest, or got pummeled by storms (sorry, Boston), you’d rather be at the beach right now.
The fact that it is Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day weekend is not lost on us, but if you were a major slacker with your plans, spend the extra time with your honey — or meet a new one — on a beach somewhere. These flights were priced from Travel Channel headquarters in DC, but visit SkySkanner.com (or your preferred search engine) to find the cheapest last-minute flights for you.
Photo by iStockphoto.com/Nikolay Tzolov
Sunny and 73 degrees, trapezing along Lincoln Road, and late-night Cuban sandwiches … need we go on? It also just happened to be named our Sexiest Beach for 2015 by Sports Illustrated model Nina Agdal. Sold.
Photo Courtesy of Robin Bennefield
The biggest parties of the year in New Orleans and Rio are Mardi Gras and Carnival. But in Puerto Rico, it’s the San Sebastian Street Festival, or Fiestas de la Calle San Sebastian, when thousands of Puerto Ricans and tourists pack the streets of Old San Juan the third week of January for 4 days of parades and over-the-top revelry.
There are no revealing costumes or skin-bearing for beads during this family-friendly festival that kicked off Thursday and lasts through Sunday. It features Puerto Rico’s hottest musicians and DJs on stages in 4 of the city’s largest squares.
Dreaming of a tropical getaway, but don’t know where to go? Want to bask on beautiful beaches, but don’t want to cross several times zones to get there? Puerto Rico, just a quick 2-½ hour flight from Miami, is as close as it gets to an island paradise. Temperatures year-round hover between a perfect 75 to 85 degrees. If that doesn’t convince you, here are 5 more reasons to visit Puerto Rico.
1. No Passport Required
Forgot to renew your passport? Don’t worry; you can still take a trip to Puerto Rico. While this exotic isle may seem like a world away with its rich Spanish culture and exotic beaches, it’s still part of the US making it a no-passport-required vacation. One less thing to (forget to) pack.
2. Glow-in-the-Dark Sea Creatures
Don’t let the name Mosquito Bay scare you – it is not the world’s most mosquito-infested bay. Also known as Bioluminescent Bay, this lagoon in Vieques is home to tiny glowing creatures that light up the bay at night in trails of blue phosphorescence. Rent a kayak on a moonless night for the best viewing of this amazing glow-in-the-dark phenomenon.
Courtesy of Thinkstock
“¡Cuidado con los pajaros!” said the counter guy, as he pointed to my food on the table outside. I quickly figured out what he was saying, meanwhile birds were descending on our food.
After shooing the feathered scavengers away, my dad and I dove into our roasted chicken and Magna beers at El Verde BBQ. It’s the very definition of roadside dive as we could almost touch the cars going by. Following the advice of Anthony Bourdain, we had taken a chance on the place, pulled in, and began eating without fear.
Randomly, a grizzled man plopped down at our table. He said a greeting in Spanish that my dad responded to in between bites of juicy chicken. One reason I choose Puerto Rico for this father-son trip was because my dad taught himself Spanish. I figured he’d enjoy getting to use it.
Then the old man spoke to me in English: “It’s good that you bring your dad here. My dad is 90 now and we see each other often. That is good.” He also told us how long he had lived in the Puerto Rico, how much he liked his homeland and he offered some of his thoughts about life in general. Then he said goodbye and left.
As he got into his truck, all of the workers waved goodbye. We soon learned that the man we were talking to was the owner of the restaurant.
I liked his style. No showy welcome to his restaurant, no attempts to win our attention with a free beer and no questions about what we thought about the food. It was just a pleasant conversation from a pleasant man while eating pleasant food.
In the space of an hour, Puerto Rico taught us three lessons: watch out for birds stealing your food, random roadside dives are delicious and always welcome a stranger to the table.
Courtesy of Greg Stroud
- Written by Greg Stroud
Today’s Daily Escape is from Rio Grande, Puerto Rico. Learn more »
Photograph by Oyster.com
Looking for a fun, theme cruises? Then pay tribute to the TV show The Soul Train and its creator Don Cornelius. Book your room on the Soul Train cruise, scheduled for February 17-24, 2013. Holland America’s Westerdam will host the festive cruise that will feature multiple shows and activities simultaneously.
According to Huffington Post, 12 acts have already signed up to keep the patrons shaking their groove thing. Patti LaBelle, The O’Jays, Kool & The Gang, The Spinners, War, Gerald Alston, George Duke, War and several other artists will help keep things lively with nightly shows held in the Vista Lounge.
The cruise line will stop in Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands and the Bahamas. Book now! Cabins run from $1,800 to $7,500 for early reservation, which end on April 31, 2012. Get more information about the hippest trip at sea.
Travel Channel has more cruise information to help you plan your next voyage.
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