August: Summer's End
Don't while away the season at home -- take a family beach break,
last-minute cruise or music tour celebrating the king of rock 'n' roll
By the Vacations Staff
(Scroll down to see a slide show.)Book a cruise bargain
Head out to sea and enjoy the remaining slice of summer on a floating resort. Check out travel discounter Vacations To Go and its last-minute deal finder, the 90-Day Ticker, for big savings on cruises. Oceangoing companies looking to fill ships often post deeply reduced fares -- some slashed by 75 percent or more per person -- in the three months leading up to departure. These offers extend to a variety of lines, cabins and itineraries, though destinations can vary depending on the season. For departures in August, 90-Day Ticker picks likely will include end-of-season sailings in Alaska and trips to the Caribbean, the Bahamas and beyond; look for the green button on the left side of the home page to begin your search for a steal. Don't want to wait to book? Vacations To Go is already showing some great bargains for August, like weeklong, round-trip sailings of Alaska's Inside Passage from Vancouver for under $700 per person on Holland America Line vessels -- a savings of up to 71 percent. Or, chase the sun on a four-night Bahamas jaunt: August voyages from Miami on Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Sky begin at $229 per person.
Mountain retreat in Utah
Park City, UT, and its adjoining ski havens -- Canyons, Deer Valley and Park City Mountain resorts -- are just as scenic without snow. Summer visitors tackle verdant peaks by foot and mountain bike, with some 400 miles of trails winding through the region. There's top-notch fly-fishing in the Provo and Weber rivers, and high-altitude golf, rock climbing and zip lining join a full roster of concerts at the Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater. The dining scene is another draw: Thanks to tony events like the annual Sundance Film Festival, Park City now claims more chefs per capita than Paris. James Beard Award nominees and Wine Spectator honorees include Bill White, whose cuisine ranges from homey goods at the Bakery at Windy Ridge to cutting-edge sushi at Sushi Blue. And, while Utah is known for its unusual liquor laws, Park City is home to the world's first (and only) ski-in spirit-maker and gastropub, High West Distillery and Saloon, with daily tours and tastings.
Escape to the Dominican Republic
Squeeze in one last family getaway before the kids head back to school this fall. At Dreams La Romana Resort and Spa, an all-inclusive property on the southern coast of the Dominican Republic, you'll find an array of amenities that will entertain the whole clan. Little ones join the Explorer's Club, with supervised programs ranging from treasure hunts to weekly campouts on the beach. Meanwhile, teenage siblings head to the Core Zone for late-night dance parties and daily showdowns on the resort's pingpong, pool, foosball and air hockey tables. Mom and Dad have plenty of distractions, too, and seven cocktail bars stand ready to serve, including Manatees, a swim-up spot attached to a peaceful infinity pool. But Dreams La Romana's budget-friendly, all-inclusive vacation package is ideal for group activities, too. The resort loans out kayaking, snorkeling and windsurfing equipment and even offers one free scuba lesson for each guest. And, with 11 restaurants and 24-hour room service available, even the pickiest eaters will enjoy family meals.
Pay tribute to the king on your last trip of the summer. Cosmos' Aug. 12 "Elvis and the Southern Sounds With 36th Anniversary Memorial Tour" makes the pilgrimage to the Presley stomping grounds of Memphis and Nashville, TN, and Tupelo, MS, during Elvis Week, held annually to commemorate the death of the rock 'n' roll legend. Spend eight days absorbing sights like the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, the Memphis Rock 'n' Soul Museum, Elvis' birthplace in Tupelo and the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, home of the crooner's gold Cadillac. One day in Memphis is dedicated to Graceland, where fans view a green-carpeted jungle room, white-and-gold living room with stained-glass peacock windows, an array of glittering costumes and a collection of gold records before participating in a candlelight vigil. Nashville highlights include a private performance with John Carter Cash (son of Johnny and June Carter Cash), an opportunity to make a recording at the city's landmark Studio B and a show at the historic Grand Ole Opry.
Family time in San Diego
Before school starts, make a break for the beach in one of the country's kid-friendliest cities, San Diego. It's hard to beat this Southern California locale for a quick family escape: Temperatures average in the 70s year-round, miles of beaches fringe the Pacific Ocean and the enticing collection of lures includes SeaWorld San Diego, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, seaside Belmont Park, The New Children's Museum and the USS Midway Museum. Plus, the Legoland California Resort is about a 35-mile drive up the coast in Carlsbad. Longing for an isle escape? Make Coronado Island your home base. Technically a peninsula, this relaxed destination right across the Big Bay from San Diego's downtown draws visitors to its two-mile stretch of white sand; for a historic touch, choose red-roofed Hotel Del Coronado, built in 1888. If you can't make it in August, plan for October during Kids Free San Diego Month, with deals like gratis admission and complimentary meals at more than 100 hotels, restaurants, attractions and museums.
Up in the Canadian Rockies
Pack a dinosaur dig, white-water rafting and a wildlife safari into an eight-day Canadian adventure with "Mounties, Maple Leaves and the Majestic Rockies," a family-themed trip from Globus. The round-trip route from Calgary, Alberta, starts with dinner and a "white hat ceremony," a traditional ritual of welcome that bestows Smithbilt cowboy hats on guests. The next day, get a glimpse of the prehistoric creatures that roamed Alberta's Badlands 70 million years ago in Drumheller, known as the dinosaur capital of the world. There, you'll act as a paleontologist for a day, prospecting for fossils and investigating real dino remains. Get up close with some furry locals on a trip to a Canadian sled dog kennel, then channel your inner cowboy in Banff National Park, where you'll enjoy a covered-wagon ride, wilderness barbecue, a white-water rafting trip through Horseshoe Canyon and a safari to spot animals like caribou, wolves and bighorn sheep. A stop at the glaciers of Columbia Icefield and prime grizzly-bear watching on the Lake Louise Gondola round out the eventful trip.
-- Jennifer Davoren, Kimberly Garza and Alexis Loyd
The information in this story was accurate at the time it was published in January/February 2013. Please visit Vacations To Go or call (800) 338-4962 for current rates and details.