Explore the rebirth of New Orleans.
It's the other wine country: Cambria, Calif., with wineries, cottages, and galleries.
Posted Sunday, June 25, 2006
Face it: Everyone has made vacation plans but you. The Travel Industry Association of America predicts Americans will take 325.6 million domestic leisure trips this summer (and a possible record 13 million-plus are off to Europe). Fortunately, we live on a big planet. There are still exciting vacations to be had. And some are relative bargains. You just have to know where to look.
MONTENEGRO. This former Yugoslav republic on the Adriatic coast may be "the next Croatia," says Susan Randolph, a travel agent with AAA Mountain West in Billings, Mont., who specializes in eastern European destinations. It's got mountains, a coastline, a medieval walled city, and affordable prices--at least by European standards. Rooms at the Hotel Crna Gora in downtown Podgorica, Montenegro's capital, start at about $80, double occupancy (381-81-634-271). Overseas Adventure Travel has a 16-day tour, air from Newark included, starting at $3,370.
COZUMEL, MEXICO. Hurricanes Emily and Wilma tore through this resort town last year, and while some hotels have not yet reopened, there are plenty of deals to bring back tourists to the unharmed beaches. Charter vacations offer good rates, according to Donna Alkarmi, an agent with Carlson Wagonlit Travel in McKinney, Texas. For example, four nights at the all-inclusive Iberostar Cozumel for two adults, air included from Dallas, is $723--about $90 a person per night.
KENNICOTT, ALASKA. Despite the sway U.S. News holds over vacationers, our article on Wrangell-St. Elias National Park last summer did not trigger an influx of visitors. So you can still plan a getaway to the state's lesser-known national park (Denali is the big draw). Wrangell-St. Elias is about a five-hour drive east of Anchorage. "There are great hiking trails, mountain bike trails along old mine roads, and fly-in locations for raft trips and other adventures," says Scott McMurren, an Anchorage radio show host. Best of all--you can cavort on glaciers (while they last). McMurren recommends the Kennicott Glacier Lodge, where the $189-a-night room rate (double occupancy) includes transfers to a ghost town tour (kennicottlodge.com). See www.usnews/alaska to further refresh your memory.
SANIBEL ISLAND, FLA. Lie to your kids and tell them this Gulf Coast island, about a three-hour drive from Orlando, is the state's newest theme park: Sea Shell Isle. Conch shells, sand dollars, and lightning whelks are among the cool souvenirs that are absolutely free, waiting for you on laid-back, white-sand beaches. Summer low season is hotter than winter high season, with average highs around 90. But a breeze blows off the ocean, and you'll practically have the place to yourself. Hurricane Charley ravaged the area in 2004, but it was quickly rebuilt. A room on the beach at the Island Inn, established in 1895, starts at $130 a night, double occupancy (islandinnsanibel.com). During high season, the rate is $205.
NEW ORLEANS. OK, it's hot. Really hot (average highs in late summer push 90 degrees, and we won't mention the humidity). Then there was that hurricane. But 27,000 hotel rooms have reopened, and the French Quarter is bustling. Since summer is slow season, bargains abound. A room at the HH Whitney House, an 1865 bed and breakfast, starts at $75 (hhwhitneyhouse.com). At Hotel LaSalle, by the French Quarter, rates start at $69 for two; book three nights and get a fourth free (hotellasalle.com). Summer specials are at neworleanscvb.com. For a reminder of Katrina's fury (and the slow pace of rebuilding), tour devastated areas via operators like Grey Line.
Explore the rebirth of New Orleans.