For 2016 we’ve given a new twist to a number of smokin’ hot destinations all across the US of A. These cool places will be familiar to many folks, but as you’ll soon see, each one offers unexpected experiences that may just surprise you a bit! Here’s our fresh perspective on killer places to go in 2016 that offer great value for the money as well as a pop of newness!
You already know Alaska is a great destination for cruise lovers; (the twist: adrenaline junkies will love it too!)
So while Alaska is a primo destination for U.S. leisure travelers, the data suggests that the vast majority of Americans see Alaska from the relative detachment of a cruise ship. We’re not knocking this option at all, but let’s face it – it’s a little bit on the tame side. Alaska is arguably the last of the wild frontier – we suggest getting up close and personal with some of its inhabitants and try something a less sedate–like bear viewing! Bear viewing at Katmai National Park is purported to be the gold standard for people who keep track of things like bear viewing. Up the ante with this crazy twofer, Wild Alaska Travel offers a polar bear viewing adventure coupled with viewing of the Aurora Borealis. It books out a year in advance. 2017 dates coming soon. We recommend hiring Alaska Hiking for a professional guide if you’d like to do some trekking–some of the most spectacular hiking in the country is found in our 49th state. Sample airfares include LAX to Anchorage for under $300 roundtrip and from Dallas for around $450 roundtrip.**
You already know Maui, Hawaii as a romantic getaway; (the twist: It’s a perfect spot for athletes to push their limits!)
The uncontested wedding capital of Hawaii has earned it’s mantle of “most romantic” destination time and time again. Heck, even the writer of this blog has to admit to getting hitched there once upon a time. But there is another Maui – one you might not be as familiar with. We submit to you some of Maui’s other charms – the adventure junkie could do a lot worse than a Maui vacation. You can watch the sun rise over Haleakala crater, Maui’s highest peak, and then bicycle down 23 miles with one of the local outfits that specializes in this trip (we like the affordable Haleakala Bike Company OR get really aggressive and bike to the summit. Of course, there are zipline adventures to be had and you can surf Peahi (one of the world’s largest surf breaks – not for newbies). Don’t forget to get your dining adventure on at Mama’s Fish House – every item on the menu is caught fresh that day from Maui fishermen. Flights from San Francisco on select dates in 2016 $371 roundtrip.**
You already think New York is best in class for city slicker pursuits (the twist: it’s a mecca for nature lovers too!
Maybe Manhattan isn’t first on the list of destinations for nature lovers the way it is for culture vultures, architecture buffs and nightlife denizens but we think it ought to be. Central Park is one of the most beautiful, brilliantly planned city parks in the world and many of its attractions are 100% free. Bonus points for bird enthusiasts – the park is home to 230 avian species and is an easy pitstop for millions of migratory birds each year. You can also kayak off the 40th Street Pier in New York Harbor, a tidal estuary where the freshwater runoff from Manhattan meets the Atlantic. You’ll glide past the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island on your travels. You might also consider an Audubon Eco-cruise of the harbor to learn about and visit with harbor seals and other wildlife (summer and winter options available). Nonstop flights start at $265 from LAX roundtrip on American.**
You already know Orlando, FL as a premier family vacation spot; (the twist: it’s great for couples and singles as well!)
Orlando, Florida is a perennial family favorite for excellent reason. Fantastic weather pretty much year round, with attractions like Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter bringing families out in full force all year. If you’re not a Disney buff or parental unit, you might be tempted to pass over Orlando. That would be a mistake. A big mistake There’s lots for the kid-unencumbered to experience too. You can ironically (or un-ironically) visit Gatorland’s thousands of alligators, imbibe at the ever-so-eclectic Imperial Wine Bar (where you can also shop for the coolest furniture in town), see a romantic film at historic movie house, the Enzian, and feast at Soco, recently named best Orlando restaurant and chef for 2015 by Orlando Magazine. Try the jalapeno-jelly-drizzled, slow-Roasted Barbecue-Glazed Pork Belly Biscuits for a no regrets dining experience. $287 roundtrip on Frontier from Seattle (select dates).**
You already know Las Vegas is ground zero for the hip and the slick; (the twist: it’s an amazing place to get in touch with your inner nerd!)
Did you know Las Vegas is actually something of a pop culuture obsessive’s paradise? It might not be on the surface, but dig a little deeper and you’ll find much to satisfy even the most hardcore geek amongst your friends. First of all, don’t think of staying anywhere other than the Aria, home to Sin City’s most tech-ishly-tricked-out rooms. You can head to the National Atomic Testing Museum, home also to the Area 51 Exhibit. It’s a two for one knockout punch for history/science buffs. The Pinball Hall of Fame is a must-visit for gamers paying their respects to the forefathers and finally, the best club/video gaming venue in town has to be i-Bar at the Rio. You’ll play games, order drinks and watch videos all without leaving your seat. Nonstop flights from New York on Virgin America start at just $253 dollars round trip.**
Don’t let our list deter you from gambling in Las Vegas or going to a Broadway show in the Big Apple. Those are all fine and well-established travel pursuits. We’re just all about the fresh perspective in 2016. Happy travels to you!
*Travel Agents Group, Dec 2015
**Airfares include taxes and fees and are valid as of 1/08/16 on select dates between 1/08/16 and 12/31/16. Lowest fare seats are capacity controlled and may not be available on every airline, flight, or date. Fares subject to change without notice.