While many people are familiar with the beach vacation and the suntan lotion, sunning and occasional dips in the water that come with it, there are many more options for those looking to vacation in the summer than going to Florida or Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
Going hiking on the Appalachian Trail is an exceptional choice for outdoor enthusiasts on a budget. The Appalachian Trail has varied terrain and sights for hikers of every skill level. Plus, because of the higher elevations, much of the Appalachian Trail is impassable from fall to late spring, making the summer the best time to visit. Because the trail stretches from Georgia to Maine, there are a number of locations to visit. While Great Smoky Mountains National Park is perhaps the most famous, Shenandoah National Park can provide a wonderful experience for those looking to relax. Located a short distance to the southwest of Washington, D.C., Shenandoah contains 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail. It features gentle elevation changes and a number of stunning vistas. Other popular Appalachian Trail destinations include the historic hikes around Harper’s Ferry, where Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia converge.
Rent a car and travel the Spanish countryside for an exciting summer trip. Exceptional food, beautiful landscapes and pleasant weather define much of rural Spain. Wonderful places to visit include the hillside town of Toledo, famous for its steel. An easy drive from Madrid, Toledo is a great destination for those looking to stretch their legs on the open road. From there head south to Malaga. Visitors come to see the birthplace of Picasso and enjoy the gorgeous Costa del Sol. From there, follow the coast north and experience the famous Basque cuisine. Stop at Valencia to experience its famous blend of Gothic architecture and the ultramodern displays in the City of Arts and Sciences. Continue up the coast to Barcelona, making sure to drop in on the famous Gaudi parks, the Sagrada Familia and the city’s hill-top fortress.
A burgeoning industry, particularly in developing countries, is the ecotourism movement. Designed for sustainability, these vacations will show you a natural world you have never seen before, all without damaging the environment. Brazil has a number of ecotourist opportunities for those interested in exploring the Amazon rain forest. Excellent destinations include Abrolhos, a small seaside town renowned for whale watching. The town is home to the diverse terrain and forested islands of Abrolhos Marine National Park. Or visit Pantanal, the world’s largest jungle wetlands. The nearby city of Bonito hosts a number of tours, with a great deal of its economy based upon ecotourism of the exquisite swamp ecosystem. There are even package deals for multiple destinations provided by the Brazilian airline TAM.
You haven’t truly seen American wilderness unless you have visited Alaska. The best time to visit Alaska is in the summer, when the parks are vibrant and it’s possible to get in and out of cities by car. The Glacial Discovery Train is a wonderful way to get an overview of the state. The train runs from Anchorage to Grandview, with numerous stops in between. The train’s route is designed to give you the flexibility to exit the train and visit such sights as Spencer Lake, with its well-preserved glaciers; Chugach National Park, the second-largest national forest in the country; and the port of Whittier, where passengers can charter fishing boats or glacier cruises. The train runs all day from May to September. Rates vary depending on when you intend to exit or board the train, but you can expect to pay around $100 to go to Grandview and return to Anchorage.