Hottest Summer Destinations for 2014

Posted April 23, 2014 by


Turn up the heat on your vacation plans this summer in a destination that beckons with new and standout reasons to visit. Even the chilliest spots on this list will be hot this summer with new traveler-friendly events, openings, and airline service. Whether you're looking for some natural splendor, a 24-hour urban scene, or a simple patch of white-sand bliss, you'll be able to find it in these dazzling destinations.



Brazil is set to be the center of the sports universe this summer as host of the FIFA World Cup, which will welcome teams from 32 countries around the world. With more than 2.5 million tickets already in circulation for matches in cities around the country, the world will be cheering in Brazil between June 12 and July 13.



Domestic low-cost giant Southwest has gotten its passport and is heading to the beach. This summer, it will launch its first international flights, with service to Jamaica from Atlanta, Baltimore, and Orlando starting in July. JetBlue is also expanding its Jamaica service just in time for summer, with new flights from Ft. Lauderdale to Montego Bay.


Las Vegas, Nevada

Heat rises, and this summer, you can survey already-smoking-hot Las Vegas from on high in the city's latest supersized novelty, the High Roller Ferris wheel. Staking a claim as the world's tallest, the 550-foot-tall observation wheel supports 28 individual pods that can each hold up to 40 people. The views are most spectacular at night, when the Strip sparkles below. And, this being Vegas, you can buy your drinks at the bottom and bring them with you on your journey to the sky and back.



Last December, we named Belgium a destination to watch in 2014. And this August, it will become clear why, as the country—and the world—marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. More than 2 million travelers are expected to pay tribute at Belgium's many battle sites. The new Bastogne War Museum just opened last month and will host a variety of centennial events in the coming years.


Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

In these ancient mountains that teem with constant springs of new life, a hundred years seems like both a blip and an eternity. This year, Rocky Mountain National Park turns 100 years old, and visitors can celebrate nature and conservation at its finest by taking part in picnics, night hikes, art exhibits, and more. Centennial events kick off in early September and stretch into 2015, so even if you miss the opening festivities, you'll still have plenty of time to join the celebration.


Umea, Sweden

Umea brings a new twist to its Capital of Culture designation this summer with hundreds of cultural events and nearly 24-hour daylight around the summer solstice. Highlights of the summer season include U x U, a crowd-funded music festival, as well as an outdoor staging of Strauss' opera Elektra.


Atlanta, Georgia

Atlanta is looking to the future by celebrating the past this summer. Its modern reimagining of the classic streetcar will debut in late spring or early summer, with 12 stops connecting Centennial Olympic Park, downtown Atlanta, Georgia State University, and the historic Sweet Auburn District. And in May, downtown Atlanta's new National Center for Civil and Human Rights museum will welcome the public for the first time.



Along with Jamaica, Aruba will be one of Southwest's first international destinations. In July, the domestic-until-now low-cost carrier will kick off service between Aruba and Atlanta, Baltimore, and Orlando. And the timing is perfect—since Aruba sits outside the traditional "hurricane belt," Caribbean summer travel to this island is unlikely to be hampered by challenging weather.


Glasgow, Scotland

Brazil isn't the only country that's got game this summer. Glasgow is gearing up to host the XX Commonwealth Games, an event that draws participants and spectators from a number of countries around the world. Featuring 17 events, including aquatics, gymnastics, triathlon, and table tennis, the XX Commonwealth Games kicks off on July 23 and runs through August 3.



A man, a plan, a canal: Panama! The engineering marvel that inspired the palindrome turns 100 on August 15, and Panama is gearing up to celebrate. Throughout the year, a number of cruise lines are offering special canal crossings or partial crossings, and day tours by providers such as Panama Canal Tours will be offered all summer. The Frank Gehry-designed Biomuseo, which is visible from the entrance to the canal, will also likely open this summer. And the expansion project continues: By 2015, larger ships may be able to access the canal.


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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title Hottest Summer Destinations for 2014. 

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Snorkel and Save in Tropical Aruba

Posted July 20, 2010 by Kate Hamman

Aruba Since Aruba sits outside the hurricane belt, there's never a wrong time to visit. And now, you can experience it all without going broke in the process. Come explore one of the island's prime spots for snorkeling and diving while on a sailing excursion. Then listen to the ocean and live music as you sip on a frozen cocktail, before returning to your more-than-affordable digs at a local B&B.

Red Sail Sports: Set sail on a custom-built catamaran for a day of snorkeling and sun. Red Sail offers many different options and packages for enjoying the open waters, but the Antilla Snorkel Sail for $49 per person is one of the best deals. On this trip, you'll enjoy hors d'oeuvres and beverages before exploring two separate snorkeling sites, one of which is the wreck of the sunken German freighter, the Antilla. Trips last about three hours, and depart Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.

MooMba Beach Bar & Restaurant: Sometimes you need more than an umbrella in your drink to feel like you're on vacation. So how about sand beneath your toes and a giant palapa overhead as well? MooMba Beach Bar makes it happen with a selection of tropical drinks served at comfy tables right on the beach. Drinks start at $7 for frozen and non-frozen concoctions, and there's a daily happy hour from 6 to 7 p.m. every day.

Buffam's Tropical Haven: Set in a residential neighborhood near Eagle Beach, Buffam's Tropical Haven lives up to its name by providing a serene and affordable getaway. Your hosts go the extra mile to make you feel welcome, and they're always ready with island tips and advice. Each unit comes equipped with a full kitchen, making it easy to save a few extra dollars by eating in. Studio apartments start at $60 per night, and include breakfast.

To search for flights and compare prices to Oranjestad, which is home to Aruba's main airport, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: Tammy Peluso/iStockphoto)

No Worries in Affordable Aruba

Posted June 22, 2009 by Jamie Moore

Aruba-lighthouse-def Don't want to encounter a Gustav, Hanna, or Ike on your Caribbean getaway? Then head to Aruba, a tropical paradise that sits safely below the hurricane belt. Among this happy little island's white beaches, dramatic rock formations, and wind-sculpted divi-divi trees, you can easily find fun and affordable experiences. Start with an adventurous island tour, find flea market deals, or sip down a Pink Iguana colada with a classic Caribbean meal.

De Palm Tours: For off-road island sightseeing, your best bet is De Palm's bumpy half-day tour in a 4X4 Range Rover. Guides artfully blend historic commentary with unique experiences. Along the way you get to go snorkeling, explore an old fort and lighthouse, swim in a natural pool, feed ostriches, relax on beaches, and see the island's distinctive caves. Tours run $52 per person and admission for kids under 12 is 50 percent less.

Iguana Joe's: Admittedly, this festive Caribbean restaurant is a bit of a tourist trap. But if you can get past the fact that it's located in a mall and sells t-shirts with its iguana logo, then you're in for a casual and fun lunch stop. Grab a seat on the outside deck, an excellent place to people watch above a busy downtown street. Try the island-caught mahi-mahi, coconut-rum-battered shrimp, or the traditional Aruban Keshi Jena (cheese filled with chicken, vegetables and spices)for less than $20 each. Sandwiches cost under $10, and a half-liter of the potent Pink Iguana colada goes for $7.50.

Tourists Go Flea Market: What would a Caribbean vacation be without a little haggling? Sure, there are plenty of swanky shops with the latest fashions, but you'll have much more fun at the flea market on L.G. Smith Boulevard. This huge market across from Container Harbour promises bargains on locally made crafts, artwork, clothing, and, of course, souvenirs. The smoky aroma of traditional island barbecue fills the air. Don't leave without a quick bite.

To search for flights and compare prices to Aruba, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: iStockPhoto/zinchik)

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