Latin America

Hottest Summer Destinations for 2014

Posted April 23, 2014 by SmarterTravel.com

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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.

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Brazil

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.

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Jamaica

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.

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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.

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Belgium

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Aruba

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.

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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.

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Panama

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. 

 Follow Christine Sarkis on Google+ or email her at at editor@smartertravel.com.

Trip Report: Los Cabos, Mexico

Posted May 14, 2013 by SmarterTravel.com

Los Cabos Arch-DD

Los Cabos is on the tip of the state of Baja California Sur—an arid and cactus-filled land, yet fertile due to its peninsular body surrounded by the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean. Los Cabos consists of Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.

High Points: After leaving behind a snow-blanketed Boston, I heartily welcomed the Cabos sun. The warmth set the stage for my five-day trip. From the friendly people to the spicy food, Los Cabos' warmth was like a welcome mat to Mexico.

My time in San Jose del Cabo was spent meandering about art gallery-filled cobblestoned streets, perusing the town's markets and shops, and visiting the Mega (something like a Costco, and what seems like geared for ex-Pats). I found a sketchy water canal with colorful street murals, rode local buses (there are several varieties, including the urbanos, the co-ops, and even some with AC), shopped around for fine tequilas to bring back home, and spoke with several cigar vendors about the famous Habanos. (Did you know Fidel once hired his own personal cigar roller?)

Walking about the town, folks are ready with a quick "hola" and "buenas tardes." I made friends with Tim, the (highly stressed) landscape designer for Hollywood stars at Baja Brewing Co. I chatted up Geraldo the bartender, who's going to make it a point to go running on the beach more often. Then there was Laurel and Sharon, daughter and mother, beachside Malibu residents who's ancestry ties them with the Rockefellers. Oh, can't forget Eduardo, El Encanto Inn's concierge. Ever-helpful, Eduardo promises to show me around where the locals hang out upon my return to Los Cabos—a certain move in my near future.

Low Points: Unfortunately, headlining the news these days is Mexico's rampant drug-affiliated violence. That, however, shouldn't dissuade you from making a trip to Los Cabos. I felt safe in San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas.

Scarier are the gouging prices. Being in Mexico I expected wares and services to be a lot more affordable than what I encountered: $50 for a bottle of mid-tier tequila, $40 for a one-way cab ride from San Jose del Cabo to Cabo San Lucas (a 20-mile distance on a toll-less road). A typical dinner starts at $15, sans drinks.

Savings Strategy: From cab fares to trinkets, be ready to haggle. It's almost expected of you to do so.

Where I Stayed: I stayed in two hotels while at San Jose del Cabo. The Hotel El Ganzo is hip and artsy. Past guests include Slash of Guns 'n' Roses fame; party-boy Charlie Sheen; Mexican artist Gabriel Macotela; Manuel Pujol Baladas, known as the Young Dali and infamous for falsifying his namesake's work; and one of my fave musicians, Damien Rice (swoon).

For a more affordable and authentic San Jose del Cabo experience, check out Encanto Inn. Take advantage of the hotel's central location for Art Walk. Every Thursday evening from November through June, the town's art galleries stay open late into the evening, enticing patrons with complimentary wines and hors d'oeuvres.

If You Go: Take advantage of the rich marine life that surrounds you and dive, snorkel, kayak out to Cabo's famous Arch and Lover's Beach, fish, swim with whales—whatever it is you prefer, just soak in the surrounds. If you're anything at all like this Northeasterner, it's not often you have an opportunity to try out as many of these marine adventures in a single destination.

For beachside centrally located accommodations in Cabo San Lucas, stay at Casa Dorada. Though I only lunched there, I was blown away by the impeccable service—one of the genuinely friendliest I've ever met.

For the calendar of events, more accommodations options than what is listed above, and general destination tips, peruse the Los Cabos Tourism Board site.

 

Read the original story: Trip Report: Los Cabos, Mexico, by Patricia Magaña

 

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Sandy Shores and Seafood Make San Andres a Winner

Posted May 26, 2010 by Jaclyn Liechti

Johnny Cay San Andes Crystal-clear waters and one of the longest reefs in the world make San Andres Island in Colombia every scuba-diver's dream. Puritans, pirates, and slaves all populated the isle at one time or another, and today Morgan's Cave is one of the most popular places to visit because of a lingering legend about hidden treasure. The area's true value comes from its natural beauty, though, and the sandy shores of nearby Johnny Cay are sure to have you on island time instantly.

Eat
Restaurant La Regatta
: If you're hungry for Colombian, Caribbean, and local island cuisine, the Restaurant La Regatta is the place to be. Built on stilts over the water, you can feast on 12 different lobster entrees or 13 shrimp meals while taking in the fresh sea air and views of the bay. Try Tesoros del Mar, a casserole made of shrimp, snail, octopus, crab, squid, lobster, and fish, prepared au gratin in bechamel sauce.You can also quench your thirst with a variety of tropical drinks at the Sailor's Bar, which serves up classic mojitos and embrujos, made with Caribbean rum, coconut liquor, pineapple juice, and orange juice.

You can use our tool to compare airfares to San Andres from multiple travel providers.

(Photo: edwardyanquen via Flickr CC Attribution http://www.flickr.com/photos/edwardyanquen/)


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