Long-stay vacations in the U.S. provide good options for a host of reasons. While you’re hibernating, oops, chilling out in shorts and t-shirt, you can learn a new skill or two like playing slack key guitar in Hawaii or paddle surf; sample new cuisines (chicken bog anyone?) or discover a new favourite place to watch the sun go down. Accommodations come in many forms to suit different tastes and budgets ranging from big name hotel chains with fully equipped kitchenettes to private condos and vacation homes. Long-term rates are available as are special deals for seniors. Here’s a look some favourite destinations:
Kennedy Space Center
Florida has many distractions to keep everyone occupied from visiting museums to shopping, entertainment, relaxing on the beach and the sport of people watching. For families, there's Orlando with its themed attractions. The Everglades National Park, with its swamps, offers an insight into some nature-based offerings of the state.
In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the Kennedy Space Center is offering rare access to the Launch Control Center. Running through the end of the year, this tour will take visitors into the room that has controlled the launch of 21 space shuttles since 2006.
• Art Deco Festival, Miami Beach: Raises awareness and appreciation of the Art Deco era (January).
• Florida State Fair, Tampa: Saluting the best in agriculture and equestrian (February).
• Florida Strawberry Festival, Plant City: Features parades, exhibits, entertainment and youth programs (March).
• American Sand Sculpting Championships on Fort Myers Beach: One of the longest running sand sculpting competitions worldwide (November).
• Winterfest Celebration, Fort Lauderdale: Multi-cultural festivities include Winterfest Black Tie Ball and Shoreline Decorating Extravaganza (December).
• Seminole Golf Club, Juno Beach.
• Trump International Golf Club, West Palm Beach.
• Black Diamond Ranch, Lecanto.
• TPC Sawgrass, Ponte Vedra Beach.
• Sharks Tooth Golf Club, Panama City Beach.
Nicholas A Collura-Gehrt
• Clearwater Beach: Family-oriented.
• Amelia Island: Explore historic Fernandina beach in a carriage ride, Segway or trolley tour. Fishing, water sports available.
• Cap San Blas: Peninsula curved around St. Joseph Bay. Activities include horseback riding, eco-excursions, kayaking and snorkelling.
• Canaveral National Seashore: Longest expanse of pristine shore in Florida; sanctuary to threatened animals including nesting sea turtles.
• South Beach, Miami: Colourfully designed life guard outposts.
• Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel: an unspoiled island sanctuary.
• Paddle board Walton’s County’s Coastal Dune Lakes.
• Birding: The Florida Birding and Wildlife trail has 500 birding sites with about 510 species.
• Visit the National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola: Into its 101st year; features the elite Blue Angels flight demonstration squadron.
• Walt Disney World Resort.
• Busch Gardens.
• Universal Orlando Resort.
• LEGOLAND Florida.
Lido Key (close to Sarasota), Worth Avenue (Palm Beach), Bal Harbour Shops, Adventura and Dadeland Mall (Miami), Sawgrass Mills (Fort Lauderdale), Silver Sands Factory Stores (Destin), Fifth Avenue South (Naples), Pensacola’s historic district.
• Best breakfast: Old Fort Lauderdale Breakfast House (a.k.a. O-B House).
• Best lunch: Back Porch Seafood & Oyster House, Destin.
• Best sunset bar: Marina Bar & Grill, Sandestin.
• Scenic Byways: A1A Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway, Big Bend Scenic Byway, Florida Black Bear Scenic Byway.
• Average temperatures: 27°C.
Myrtle Beach’s development as a resort started in 1901 when the beach’s first hotel, the Seaside Inn opened. Visitors have a wide variety of water-based activities to choose from, including freshwater and saltwater fishing. Often called the golf capital of the world, it is home to some of the finest courses around that are frequently listed under the top 100 courses in the country.
Myrtle Beach Area CVB
• Canadian-American Days Festival: Two-week-long festival with military band concerts, athletic tournaments and history days (March).
• Coastal Uncorked: Myrtle Beach’s premier food and wine festival (April).
• Blue Crab Festival: Features live music, arts and crafts, and the tasty, sweet blue crab (May).
• Beach Boogie and Barbeque Festival: South Carolina’s official BBQ competition (September).
• Loris Bog Off: A parade and a top-notch cooking competition celebrates the heritage of chicken bog (October).
• Dunes Club.
• Barefoot Dye Club.
• Tournament Players Club.
• Bald Head Island.
• Little River: Features arts and crafts, entertainment and booths selling blue crab inspired food.
• North Myrtle Beach: The shag (dance) originated here.
• Myrtle Beach: Home to hotels, restaurants, attractions, retail stores and other hospitality businesses.
• Surfside Beach: Family beach with a fishing pier.
• Garden City Beach: Popular area for fishing, crabbing and other water sports.
• Deep sea fishing.
• Boat tour.
• Paddle board yoga.
• Ripley’s Aquarium.
• Skywheel Myrtle Beach.
• Family Kingdom.
• Broadway at the Beach, Coastal Grande Mall, Tanger Outlets, Pawley’s Island Hammock Shops, The Market Common.
• Best breakfast: Sea Captains House Restaurant.
• Best lunch: Drunken Jack’s.
• Best sunset bar: Bubba’s Love Shak.
• Scenic Byways: Business 17 Kings Highway – most scenic and oldest road in the area.
• Average temperature: 15°C to 24°C.
Hawaii’s four major islands – Oahu, Hawaii, Maui and Kauai – have their own unique offerings ranging from alluring beaches to active volcanoes that are constantly expanding the landmass.
Then there are the lesser known, rural and tranquil islands of Molokai and Lanai. In Molokai, getting to the Kalaupapa National Historical Park is an adventure in itself. It is accessible via flying, hiking or riding a Molokai mule down a five-kilometre trail dotted with 26 switchbacks before descending 488 metres to the peninsula. It is said to be the most beautiful and inspirational place in Hawaii.
Nearby lies the island of Lanai. Featuring two luxurious resorts and many secluded beach areas, it is an ideal destination for a romantic getaway. There are also two challenging and stunning championship golf courses.
• Maui Whale Festival: Highlights include guided excursions with marine biologists (February).
• Waimea Town Celebration, Kauai: Events include the Kilohana Long Distance Canoe Race (February).
• Merrie Monarch Festival, Big Island: Hawaii’s most venerable hula celebration (March/April).
• Aloha Festivals, Oahu: Cultural celebration of Hawaii’s music, dance and history (September).
• Kona Coffee Cultural Festival, Big Island: Celebrating the coffee harvest; features tastings, farm tours, parades (November).
• Kapalua, Maui.
• Prince Course, Princeville, Kauai.
• Mauna Kea Golf Course, Big Island.
• The Challenge at Manele, Lanai.
• Turtle Bay Golf Course, Oahu.
• North shore Beaches, Oahu: Among the most famous in the world, attracting world-class surfers during the windy winter months.
• Waikiki, Oahu: Best known beach in Hawaii.
• Kaanapali Beach, Maui: There’s a reason why luxury hotels and resorts are built here.
• Hanalei Beach Park, Kauai: Natural beauty that’s featured in songs, hulas and travel posters.
• Kalapaki Beach, Kauai: Ideal for swimming and sailing; also features freshwater tropical lagoons that serve as a sanctuary for exotic wildlife.
• Learn to surf in Wakiki.
• Watch the sunrise or sunset at Haleakala, Maui.
• Stargazing at Mauna Kea, Big Island.
• Pearl Harbor, Oahu.
• Haleakala National Park, Maui.
• Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island.
• Napali Coast, Kauai.
• Waimea Canyon, Kauai.
Ala Moana Center & Ward Centers, Oahu, Whalers Village & Shops at Wailea, Maui; King’s Shops & Queen’s MarketPlace, Big Island; Downtown Kapaa, Kauai.
• Best breakfast: Cinnamon’s, Oahu; Plantation House, Maui; Holuakoa Cafe, Big Island; Kalaheo Cafe & Coffee Company, Kauai.
• Best lunch: Hailis Hawaiian Food, Oahu; Cafe Pesto, Big Island; The Feral Pig, Kauai.
• Best sunset bar: Duke’s Waikiki, Oahu; Mama’s Fish House, Maui; Huggo’s on the Rocks, Big Island; Tahiti Nui, Kauai.
Texas Tourism/George Miller
Comprising 1,004 kilometres of coastline with warm waters for swimming and water-based activities, the area has some of the best beaches in the U.S.
Most of the Great Texas Coastal Birding Trail sites are located here, the Rio Grande Valley being the nation’s top bird-watching venue. Giant sea turtles including the endangered Kemp’s Ridley, can be found around South Padre Island. Visitors can see these creatures in the wild under the watchful eye of Sea Turtle, Inc., a organization dedicated to rescuing and protecting marine turtles.
• Corpus Christi First: Largest outdoor market on the water in Texas (first weekend of every month).
• Mardi Gras! Galveston: 3rd largest Mardi Gras celebration in the country (February).
• BucDays: Pirate-themed festival (April-May).
• Friday Night Fireworks, South Padre Island: Held every Friday at 9:15 p.m. (end May-early September).
• Brewmaster’s Craft Beer Festival, Galveston: Largest craft beer festival in Texas featuring over 400 specialty and craft brews (September).
• Newport Dunes, Corpus Christi.
• Gabe Lozano Golf Course, Corpus Christi.
• Moody Gardens Golf Course, Galveston.
• Galveston Country Club.
Caption for south padre island:
With a tropical climate, miles and miles of beaches and plenty of entertainment after the sun goes down, it’s now wonder Winter Texans flock to South Padre Island.
Photo Credit: Texas Tourism/Kenny Braun
• North Packery Beach, Corpus Christi: Popular surfing and kiteboarding spot.
• Padre Island National Seashore, Corpus Christi: Home to nesting Kemp’s Ridley sea turtles.
• Stewart Beach, Galveston: Popular family beach.
• East Beach: Galveston’s most popular hang-out; only beach on the island where alcohol is allowed.
• South Padre Island: Nationally recognized as Texas’ top beach.
Texas Tourism/Kenny Braun
• Visit Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi to see marinelife from the Gulf of Mexico.
• Join in Hotel Galvez’s “Ghost Tour Dinner”, Galveston. Features a paranormal investigation of the ghost bride in room 501 followed by dinner.
• Hop onboard a dolphin watch cruise around South Padre Island.
• Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier.
• USS Lexington, Corpus Christi.
• Schlitterbahn Beach Resort & Waterpark, South Padre Island.
LaPalmera Mall, Water Street Market & Lamar Park, Corpus Christi; Strand Street, Galveston
• Best breakfast: Hester’s Café, Corpus Christi; Bernardo’s Restaurant, Galveston.
• Best lunch: Executive Surf Club, Corpus Christi; Rudy & Paco Restaurant, Galveston; Blackbeard’s South Padre Island
• Best sunset bar: Tavern on the Bay at Harrison’s Landing, Corpus Christi; Rum Shack, Galveston.
• Scenic Byways: Bay Area Loop in Corpus Christi, Queen Isabella Causeway, South Padre Island.
• Average temperatures: 27°C high, 18°C low.
Texas Tourism/George Miller
Arizona is the only state in the U.S. where parts of four deserts – Great Basin, Mojave, Chihuahuan and Sonoran, can be found. Deserts aside, Arizona's geography also includes mountains, rivers, valleys and lakes.
From Native Americans to Spanish conquistadors to cowboys and gold miners, Arizona certainly has an interesting history. On the Wild West front, the frontier town of Tombstone is where the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral took place while Prescott is home to the World’s Oldest Rodeo. The state is known for its Western and Native American art and ancient artifacts.
• Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction, Scottsdale: International car auction featuring antique/classic cars, one-of-a-kind collectibles and rare “automobilia” (January).
• Accenture Match Play Golf Championship, Marana: Considered the cornerstone of the World Golf Championship series with a purse of US $7.5 million (February).
• 124th Annual Prescott Frontier Days, World’s Oldest Rodeo: Celebrates cowboy culture with parades and rodeo performances (July).
• Navajo Festival of Arts and Culture, Flagstaff: Showcases ancient legends and traditions through art, stories and customs (August).
• Red Rock Fantasy of Lights, Sedona: Holiday lights festival that features over one million lights (November).
• Troon North (Pinnacle), Scottsdale.
• Ritz-Carlton Dove Mountain (Saguaro/Tortolita), Marana.
• TPC Scottsdale (Champions), Scottsdale.
• Seven Canyons, Sedona.
• Superstition Springs, Mesa.
• Ventana Canyon, Tucson.
National Parks Service
• Great Basin: Iconic Monument Valley landscape; catch snowflakes in winter while standing in the desert.
• The Mojave Desert: Go boating on Lake Havasu or rafting the Colorado River while in the driest desert in North America.
• Chihuahuan: View migratory birds.
• Sonoran Desert: Experience spring with Saguaro blossoms and wildflowers.
• Touring the red rocks of Sedona via jeep.
• Heli-tour over the Grand Canyon.
• Horseback riding through the Sonoran Desert.
• Grand Canyon National Park.
• Historic guest ranches in southern Arizona.
• World-class resorts, hotels, restaurants and museums like the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) and the Heard Museum.
• Verde Valley Wine Trail.
• Lake Havasu for water sports and the London Bridge.
Major Shopping Districts
Arizona Mills, Hopi Arts Trail, Navajo Reservation for Arts & Crafts.
• Best breakfast: El Tovar Lodge, Grand Canyon National Park.
• Best lunch: Poolside at a destination spa.
• Best sunset bar: Lake Powell on your own houseboat.
• Scenic Byways: Coronado Trail, The Red Rock Byway, Apache Trail, Route 66.
• Average temperature: desert 20°C highs, 10°C lows.
Nestled at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains, Palm Springs is said to be the jewel among desert cities.
In the 1920s this sleepy remote venue was transformed into the international playground of celebrities who set up homes here. Today, Palm Springs has one of the largest concentrations of mid-century modern architecture in the world.
Naturally endowed with palm tree-lined streets dotting the downtown, its world famous Indian Canyons were used in Frank Capra's classic 1935 film, Lost Horizon.
Annual Festivals’ Highlights
• Palm Springs International Film Festival: Featuring over 400 international films (January).
• Modernism Week: Lectures and tours focusing on mid-century modern design and architecture (February).
• BNP Paribas Tennis Tournament: Top seeds compete at this combined ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour (March).
• Coachella Valley Music Festival: Stages feature different genres of live music and large sculptural art (April).
• Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week: Showcasing the region's finest culinary talents with three-course menus from unique locations. (May/June).
Simon Helle Nielsen
• Indian Canyons Golf Course
• Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort
• Escena Golf Club
• The Classic Club, Palm Desert
• PGA West
• Tour one of the largest concentrations of mid-century modern architecture in
• Hike the Indian Canyons and see one of the world’s largest palm oasis.
• Experience the “Taking of the Waters” spa treatment at the Spa Resort Casino.
• Take a tour of celebrity homes and glamorous neighbourhoods.
What To Do
• Take an off-road tour of the San Andreas Fault.
• Ride the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway.
• Horseback riding through the canyons and foothills.
What To See
• Sunnylands in City of Rancho Mirage
• New Forever Marilyn Sculpture (on display through June 2013)
Major Shopping Districts
Palm Canyon Drive, Uptown Design District.
• Best breakfast: Cheeky’s Restaurant
• Best lunch: Jake's Ready to Eat
• Best sunset bar: Las Casuelas Terraza
• Scenic Byways: Highway 62 (29 Palms Highway) goes to Joshua Tree National Park and also connects to Route 66; Highway 74 (Palms to Pines Highway).
• Average temperatures: 21°C winter; 37°C summer.
San Diego, California
Consistently rated one of the top family destinations in North America. San Diego appeals to children of all ages with its varied offerings of world-class attractions, hip restaurants and night spots, and year-round family-friendly activities. It is said, “if life’s a beach, then San Diego is the place to experience life to the fullest”. Unique landscapes dot the 113-kilometre coastline including the dramatic sandstone cliffs of Torrey Pines State Park.
Annual Festivals' Highlights
• Wildflowers Bloom in the Desert: See colourful spring wildflowers at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park (February-April).
• Fourth of July Celebrations: Featuring fireworks, festivals and patriotic parades. Of note is the two-hour parade in Coronado (July).
• Comic-Con International: Largest comics and pop culture event in the U.S. featuring movie memorabilia and everything related to pop culture (July).
• Annual Julian Fall Apple Harvest: Celebrate autumn with music, art shows and cider/apple pies in Julian (September-October).
• Whale Watching: Watch California grey whales on their annual migration from the Arctic to the Gulf of California (December–April).
• Barona Creek Golf Club
• Maderas Golf Club
• Torrey Pines Golf Course
• The Grand Golf Club
• Aviara Golf Club
• Coronado Beach: Named the “#1 Beach in America” for 2012 by Dr. Beach.
• Swami Beach: Made famous by the Beach Boys’ hit song Surfin’ USA. Prime surf spot with an underwater preserve nearby.
• La Jolla Shores: One of the most family-friendly beaches in San Diego County.
• Pacific and Mission beaches: THE place to go to be seen.
• Dog Beaches (Del Mar, Coronado and Ocean Beach): Dogs get to go off-leash and frolic in the water. Dates vary in different places.
What To Do
• Visit the town of Julian, especially during the Julian Fall Apple Harvest.
• Go hiking, biking, boating and wildlife viewing at Mission Trails Regional Park.
• Visit the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, one of the richest living museums in the country.
What To See
• LEGOLAND California
• San Diego Zoo
• San Diego Zoo Safari Park
• SeaWorld San Diego
• Balboa Park
Major Shopping Districts
Gaslamp Quarter, La Jolla’s Prospect Street, Bazaar del Mundo.
• Best breakfast: Cafe Chloe
• Best lunch: George's Ocean Terrace at George's at the Cove
• Best sunset bar: JRDN in Tower 23 Hotel
• Scenic Byways: Historic Highway 101 – North County's coastal neighbourhoods;
59 Mile Scenic Drive – passes through several of the city's most outstanding attractions;
Historic Highway 94 – East County’s tree-lined, winding mountain road.
• Average Temperature: 10° – 19°C December to May.