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My Love Affair With Summer Travel

*SLIDESHOW ARTICLE

Ever since childhood, the summer has been my favortie season for travel. Building drip sandcastles and learning how to do kartwheels in the sand on the beach at Long Beach Island, NJ, snorkeling, all day beach volleyball tournaments and my first crazy nightlife experiences in Cancun, Mexico, and later, backpacking through Europe on a student’s tight budget, just a few of my fondest summer travel memories.

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These days, having been around the world and back a few times, I’m hand picking a few of my top spots to visit over the warmer weather months this year…try something new and not break the bank while doing so.

So, here we go…we’re off on our summer travel, so pack your bags and grab your passport!

Family Fun Beach Resort – Generations Riviera Maya, Mexico

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Generations Riviera Maya is the newly opened boutique, ultra luxury all inclusive property by Karisma Hotels & Resorts.

This is a fantastic family friendly resort that satisfies the adults vacation needs with clear water, beautiful white sand beaches, relaxing beach beds, luxury amenities and their phenomenal Gourmet Inclusive food and drink options.

Children can be kept active with the assistance of the many on site resort entertainment staff playing sports on the beach, enjoying Mayan cultural activies or the playground. Mom & Dad can even schedule a date night or two to Jade for sushi or Wine Kitchen for a wine inspired culinary experience while the children are safely in their room, relaxing with cookies milk and a movie while being looked after by one of the resort nannies.

I’m loving Generations Riviera Maya this summer as they’re offering a huge Grand Opening Special, Eat.Stay.Play via Karisma’s website, so your All Butler, All Nanny, Gourmet Inclusive escape is now within a hands reach.

European Adventure – Lisbon & Sintra, Portugal

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While European prices soar in the summer time, Portugal, one of Europe’s hardest hit countries economically still remains incredibly affordable. The hilly city by the sea, Lisbon, is culturally rich with castles and fortresses that date back as far as medieval times, yet the real beauty is the downtown’s ornate, Pombaline architecture and town squares, representing the worlds first earthquake proof buildings, constructed in the late 1700s after a 9 point earthquake struck the city.

Portuguese cuisine which is loaded with fresh locally caught seafood and locally grown produce combined with their amazing “lesser-known” varietals of wine help keep dining out prices to an all Europe low, yet satisfy even the most devout foodies.

Lisbon’s fantastic seaside location is also great for excursions to Cascais, an artsy beach town to the north west, Sintra, a lush green mountain village dotted with pastel colored homes and castles making you feel like you’re living a fairy tale and of course Cabo de Roca, Europe’s western most point.

The best part is you can have a truly luxurious stay for just over $150 per night at the Sheraton Lisboa, one of the top hotels in town that’s offering a “Spring Into Summer” special on their website right now.

Taste of Americana – Washington, DC

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Late June and early July are fantastic for Washington, DC, where the days will begin to reach hot temperatures but the nights cool off making them perfect to explore the city’s many award winning local chef’s (Mike Isabella, Brian Voltaggio and Jeff Black to name a few of my favorites) sidewalk and rooftop establishments.

Experience a bit of Americana while visiting the Lincoln and Jefferson Memorials, rent a paddle boat along the Tidal Basin, or bike over to Arlington National Cemetery. Even if temperatures do soar in the late afternoon, retreat for a few hours to a different Smithsonian museum each day, they’re all free, so museum hopping is highly encouraged. Don’t miss out on this year’s 4th of July fireworks show from the newly renovated Washington Monument, which you can also now finally take in the view from the top after many years of closure.

Right now, Trivago.com is featuring a great discount on Washington, DC hotels, up to 75%, and my picks from their sale are the hip and centrally located Hotel Palomar a The George, both for around $169 / night.

Sporting In Bermuda

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My favorite “More Than Caribbean” island, Bermuda has just gotten more affordable for a summer vacation as Bermuda Tourism is currently offering a savings $200 on your summer stay of 4 nights or longer.

Bermuda is the perfect summertime sporting destination, where the temperature rarely gets over a breezy 80 degrees, and they offer numerous options for golf and boating and water sports, not to mention being an incredibly bicycle friendly island.

After long active days, you can enjoy cooling off in the crystal clear waters, which due to their Mid- Atlantic location, always stay refreshing, even in the height of the summer.

If you’re looking to learn a new sport while taking in a bit of the local culture, July 31st and Aug 1st is Berumda’s Cup Match, their annual cricket tournament that has locals so crazed, that it has become a 2 day national holiday. For those like myself, who have not quite grasped the rules of cricket, there’s no need to worry. Bermudians are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met, so you’re guaranteed to make a few new friends at Cup Match while they try to explain you the plays. If you’re lucky, perhaps one of your new found local friends will invite you to join them at Non Mariners, the all day boating after party of Cup Match. Larger group charters are always an option as well, as this party can’t be missed!

Alaskan Cruise – Royal Caribbean’s “Radiance of the Seas”

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Royal Caribbean’s newly renovated, superior level ship, Radiance of The Seas cruises for 7 nights, departing Vancouver, BC and ending in Seward, Alaska. This is the ultimate luxurious way to sight see in the great Alaskan outdoors, taking in views of the Hubbard Glacier, the Icy Strait and seeking out the rich marine life of the region.

On board, the dining options are limitless with 7 new restaurants, and you’ll never tire of the selection of unique activities like rock climbing, live shows and nightly poolside open-air cinema.

Right now, Cruise.com is offering this amazing package for departures on June 13th or August 22nd for $650 per person, and even providing hotel discounts to extend your stay before or after in Vancouver.

Fresh Mountain Air – The Inn on Biltmore Estate, Asheville, NC

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The Biltmore Estate really offers interesting activities year round but having experienced multiple seasons there, I find that the summertime is truly when you can enjoy the property in it’s glory and from the outdoors in.

Going there with a group of friends or hosting a small family reunion is ideal as there are daytime activities to satisfy all tastes from equestrian sports, mountain biking and hiking around the vast estate, exploring the home and learning about the history of the Vanderbilt family to more relaxing itineraries like pampering at the spa or lounging poolside and taking in the view.

In the evening time, the property really caters to groups, opening up many unconventional dining settings such as their wine cellar for private wine pairing meals, whimsical garden party style fetes in the butterfly garden and the crème of the crop, rooftop dining under the stars amongst the many gargoyle statues that look over the house.

The Inn offers a great summer concert series package that includes everything, even your tickets to the open-air concerts plus a picnic dinner to take along. If you’re budget is a little more restricting, you can still purchase concert tickets, day passes to the Biltmore Estate and stay nearby at one of the many hotels that are currently on sale at Fly.com for under $100 per night.

If you’re staying in Asheville over a Friday, be sure to head downtown for the weekly summer music festival, Downtown After Five, which really showcases Asheville’s local, eclectic and artistic resident base, not to mention has great eats that you can sample from many local restaurants.




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