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Spring has sprung, meaning your surroundings may finally start looking less like a desolate wasteland and more like that beautiful Earth we hear so much about. And frankly we all deserve to celebrate a victory of making it through the doldrums. Here are some ridiculously colorful destinations to jumpstart your spring travels.

sedona arizonaSedona, Arizona: It won’t take long to figure out why this part of the Grand Canyon State is known as Red Rock Country. Rust-colored sandstone formations set the backdrop for a warm Western escape, whether you’re into hiking, touring the mountains an off-road vehicle or just admiring them from the window of a spa retreat.

south beach miami

Miami Beach, Florida: With its pastel-colored Art Deco buildings, colorful cocktails and glitzy nightclub lights, South Beach’s Ocean Drive will dazzle your days and nights. For even more color, head to the Wynwood Art District on mainland Miami, where seemingly every exterior wall has been transformed into a mesmerizing mural.

san juan puerto rico

San Juan, Puerto Rico: Whether you’re vacationing in the island’s capital or just disembarking from a cruise ship for a few hours, a jaunt through this 16th-century city will brighten your spirits. Pastel-colored architecture lines the narrow streets, and the seemingly endless monuments and souvenir craft are a feast for the eyes.

st john's new foundling and labrador canada

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada: It’s easy to have Eastertime on the brain in this historic fishing town, where the streets are filled with candy-colored houses known as Jelly Bean Rows. Visit the cafes, boutiques and galleries by day, and after dark hit George Street, where you’re sure to stay warm as you dance the night away under the nightclub lights.

harbor island bahamas

Harbor Island, Bahamas: White sand beaches are so overdone. But Pink Sands Beach on Harbour Island breaks the mold. Lounge on the coral-hued sand, or go for a dip in the calm, turquoise waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

grand prismatic spring wyoming

Grand Prismatic Spring, Wyoming: #NoFilter needed here. The largest hot spring in Yellowstone National Park looks amazing on its own. The natural wonder, also known as Rainbow Hot Spring, gets its coloration because from the various bacteria that lives in its rings of heat. Hey, the science may not be sexy, but it sure looks cool.

fairbanks alaska

Fairbanks, Alaska: With average high temperatures struggling to reach the freezing mark, Fairbanks may seem like an odd choice for a winter getaway. But if it’s color you’re after, then winter’s clear skies make now the perfect time to witness Aurora Borealis, a.k.a. the northern lights.

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At some airports, time in the terminal is a little more burdensome than at others. Maybe it’s because the nearby food options suck, or because the weather around that airport is always bad, so hope of ever making it home begins to slip slowly away. One thing is for sure: a good view always makes time in the terminal go a little quicker, whether your flight is delayed or not.  And some airports boast views that are downright breathtaking. When debating layover options, make sure to route through one of these airports.

View of the Front Range from Denver International Airport. Courtesy of Ken Lund.

View of the Front Range from Denver International Airport. Courtesy of Ken Lund.

Denver International Airport — Colorado

DIA has won awards for its design, but the view of nature surrounding it is much more breathtaking. Althoughit is positioned more than a half hour’s drive outside of Denver, the airport still features fantastic views of the Rocky Mountains. Unfortunately, you will likely only see the views if you’re in Terminal West. Terminal East faces toward flat, desolate eastern Colorado.

The view from Honolulu International Airport. Courtesy of Robert Linsdell.

The view from Honolulu International Airport. Courtesy of Robert Linsdell.

Honolulu International Airport — Hawaii

If touching down in paradise doesn’t leave you in enough state of bliss, check out the view out the airport window. The airport is sandwiched between Mãmala Bay and Oahu’s iconic Diamond Head Crater, just beyond Waikiki Beach. If you can peel your eyes away from that glory, check out the Honolulu skyline and nearby Pearl Harbor.

 

Courtesy of Hideyuki Kamon.

Courtesy of Hideyuki Kamon.

Vancouver International Airport — British Columbia, Canada

Another view dominated by mountains and sea. The airport is positioned just on the coast of the Salish Sea, and the snowcapped North Shore Mountain range overlooks it all. It is probably safe to assume all the Winter Olympic athletes that converged in the city in 2010 drew most of their inspiration from this view.

 

A look at Bora Bora's main island from the airport. Courtesy of Michael Stout.

A look at Bora Bora’s main island from the airport. Courtesy of Michael Stout.

Bora Bora Airport — French Polynesia

Flying into any island of tropical paradise is going to be, well, paradise, and Bora Bora is no exception. The lack of land available for runways forces airports to be built in beautiful locations on the islands. This one, also called the Motu Mute Airport, was built on an islet in a lagoon, and a boat transport is necessary to get to the main island.

 

The Mendenhall Glacier and Juneau airport. Courtesy of Sam Beebe.

The Mendenhall Glacier and Juneau airport. Courtesy of Sam Beebe.

Juneau International Airport — Alaska

More people have their pilots license than drivers license in Alaska, a state in which it is impossible to escape nature’s beauty. So one might just assume that all of Alaska’s airports are beautiful. They probably are, but let’s focus on Juneau’s airport. The Mendenhall Glacier seems to decend on it, with Mount Juneau rising stoically above.

 

Courtesy of EandJsFilmCrew.

Courtesy of EandJsFilmCrew.

Boston Logan International Airport — Massachusetts

Although the view from Boston’s airport might not be quite as striking as the mountain and paradisiacal scenes some of our other airports have offered, this one offers a nice blend of urban vistas and nature. It is in East Boston and surrounded by water on three sides, so travelers can see the sailboats on Boston Harbour and the downtown skyline.

 

A view of São Paulo from the air. Courtesy of Roger W.

A view of São Paulo from the air. Courtesy of Roger W.

São Paulo Guarulhos International Airport — Brazil

São Paulo is a city that seems to go on forever, especially if you are taking it in by air. On the ground at the airport, travelers can see that huge city sprawling in front of them. Although they may not be experiencing the hustle and bustle of city life quite yet, it looms before them.

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Tagged: Beach, City, Flights, Hawaii

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If the open water draws you, buying a kayak may be one of the best investments of your life. That initial price you pay for your vessel will return the favor 10-fold, giving you the freedom to travel with your kayak nearly anywhere. Renting kayaks aren’t always cheap, but you can save a pretty penny if you bring your own. Here are 10 places to plop down your kayak. Note: Make sure to double check open water laws while planning your trip.

Related: Cheapest places to ‘go jump in a lake’

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Great Long Pond, Acadia National Park, Maine

Kayak through the crystal waters of Great Long Pond, with the backdrop of beautiful mountain scapes. Go in October for some gorgeous foliage that reflects perfectly on the lake. Rental option: National Park Canoe and Kayak Rental, Mount Desert, Maine. $34/3 hours.

 

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Lake Estes, Estes Park, Colorado 

The Rocky Mountains jut up around this lake near the entrance to Estes Park, the gateway to RockY Mountain National Park. Go in early summer to avoid monsoon season and the threat of mudslides. Rental option: Lake Estes Marina, Estes Park, Colorado. $11/half-hour.

 

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Courtesy of Ally Marotti.

Colorado River, Austin, Texas

Urban meets natural surroundings on this kayak trip. Make sure to slow down and listen for the millions of bats that live in the Congress Avenue bridge when you paddle under. Rental option: Congress Avenue Kayaks, Austin. $10/hour.

 

Courtesy of Jan Berry.

Courtesy of Jan Berry.

Licking River, Pendleton County, Kentucky

For a river adventure in Northern Kentucky, plop down in the Licking River. It’s big enough to be enjoyable but not as daunting and dangerous as paddling the nearby Ohio River. Go in late summer to see the quickly disappearing tobacco crop by the barn full, recently harvested and hung out to dry. Rental option: Thaxton’s Canoe and Paddler’s Inn, Kentucky. $24/3-hour trip.

 

Courtesy of Arctic Warrior.

Courtesy of Arctic Warrior.

Prince William Sound, Alaska

Kayaking in Alaska calls for a bit of a heartier vessel than a lake in the lower 48. Traversing Prince William Sound will take you up close and personal with glaciers and possibly humpback whales. Rental option: Anadyr Adventures, Valdez, Alaska. $45/day. Note: They only rent to experienced sea kayakers. Some areas require permits to kayak.

 

Courtesy of rayb777.

Courtesy of rayb777.

Hocking River, Athens County, Ohio

Hocking Hills State Park forms the perfect scenery for a kayak trip in the hills of southern Ohio. Don’t be afraid to venture out of your vessel—Hocking Hills has some of the best hiking in the state, and is ripe with rock formations such as natural bridges that are often just a five-minute walk from the river. Rental option: Hocking Hills Canoe Livery, Logan, Ohio. $15/hour.

Courtesy of Robert Engberg.

Courtesy of Robert Engberg.

 Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Grand Marais, Minnesota

There are at least 10,000 places to plop down a kayak in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, but the Boundary Waters in the northern part of the state are solely traversable by canoe or kayak. This adventure is best undertaken on a multi-day trip. Rental option: Sawbill Canoe Outfitters, Tofte, Minnesota. $32/day (note: Sawbill does not have kayaks available for rent, and most of their canoes and other equipment are rented as part of an excursion package).

Courtesy of Jude Freeman.

Courtesy of Jude Freeman.

Portage Bay, Seattle, Washington

There are a plethora of waterways to kayak around Seattle, but Portage Bay offers a slew of restaurants that you can paddle up to. Plus you don’t necessarily need a sea kayak on this bay. Watch out for other boaters. Rental option: Agua Verde Cafe Paddle Club, Seattle, Washington. $17/hour.

Courtesy of charleschandler.

Courtesy of charleschandler.

 Kealakekua Bay, Big Island, Hawaii

A mile-long paddle across the bay will take you to the Captain Cook Monument. Take your time getting there though, and watch the water—the bay is a marine life conservation district, and dolphins areoften seen frolicking among the kayakers. Rental option: Adventures in Paradise Kayak and Snorkel, Captain Cook, Hawaii. Only offers kayak tours for $89.95, no individual kayak rentals.

 

Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Sleeping Bear Bay near Traverse City, Michigan

Crest the marvelous Sleeping Bear Dunes with kayak in tow and hike down to the bay off Lake Michigan. Go in late summer, when the weather is perfect in northern Michigan. Sea kayaks are recommended, as the waters can get a little rough. Rental option: Sleeping Bear Surf and Kayak, Empire, Michigan. Sea kayaks for $60/day.

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Tagged: Cheap Tips

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Lake Geneva EDIT

Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Just north of the Illinois/Wisconsin border, this laid-back watering hole has become quite the Midwest getaway for slowed-down weekends of lakeside moseying through shops and finding a good patio at sunset to lazily sip on a beer. Personal boat rentals can cost you a few mackerels, so get your float on with a boat tour via the Lake Geneva Cruise Line. Whatever you’re into–they’ve got a specialty boat tour for it: ice cream social, champagne brunch, jazz dinner. Step back on land (and back in time) at the Baker House, an 1885 mansion turned hotel, bar, and restaurant great for sipping a cocktail while overlooking the lake.

Click here to find the cheapest Lake Geneva hotel  

Lake Tahoe Edit

Lake Tahoe South, California or Nevada

Ski town in the winter; lake town in the summer. As far as “lake-cations” go, Lake Tahoe has made a name for itself as a “play hard, then play harder” destination. Daytime means plunging into crystal clear waters with your closest kayaking friends or finding yourself in a hot air balloon peacefully floating in a crystal clear sky. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head to the highly praised Base Camp Pizza Co. for a powerful pie (tease your taste buds with flavors like “Thai Curry Chicken” and “Pear & Gorgonzola”) and live music that will get you ready for an even livelier night ahead. There’s no time to relax because once you’ve eaten your weight in pizza it’s time to chug a cold one at local watering hole, Macduffs, bring your best poker face to Harrah’s casino, or dance the night away at Peek Nightclub. The best part? Wake up and do it all over again.

Click here to find the cheapest Lake Tahoe South hotel 

Lake Clark

Lake Clark, AlaskaBeat the summer heat with a cool Alaskan breeze and hangout session with Mother Nature. At Lake Clark you’ll find yourself exploring miles of untainted land and get up close with its local fauna. Silver Salmon Creek, Chinitna Bay, or Crescent Lake are the most popular areas to spot a brown bear from a distance. If befriending a bear isn’t quite your thing, find some inspiration at late, great nature enthusiast Dick Proenneke’s handcrafted cabin. Proenneke built his cabin by hand and lived independently with nature for roughly thirty years makinghim an Alaskan icon. At night, keep the serenity alive and find yourself sipping on a cold brew under the stars.

Click here to find the cheapest Alaska hotel 

Lake Placid

Lake Placid, New York

If you haven’t started to relax from just the name alone then that is reason enough to head here. Lake Placid literally becomes more placid in the summer months so grab the whole family for some “gentle” whitewater rafting(ahem, oxymoron much?) or step up the adventure with a rigorous hike up the tallest mountain in New York: Mount Marcy. If you are thinking about a winter trip, don’t miss the opportunity to experience the snowcapped great outdoors with man’s best friend as your guide; take a dog sled ride with Thunder Mountain Dog Sled Tours or Mike Arnold Dog Sled Rides. Still not convinced? The Breakfast Club, a crowd pleaser restaurant located on Main Street, offers breakfast all day long. Think about all of the bloodies! Sold? Thought so.

Click here to find the cheapest Lake Placid hotel 

Lake of the Ozarks

Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

The only thing better than free stuff is free stuff on vacation. Lake of the Ozarks offers a ton of free attractions–it’s the adventure vacation that just keeps on giving. At Ha Ha Tonka State Park you’ll find your gaze stuck on the remains of an early 1900s castle; the product of a wealthy businessman’s crumbled dreams. At the Camden County Museum you can grab a quick history lesson at what fittingly wasa former school building. And at the Ozark Distillery you’ll find yourself with a free tour and tasting of spirits such as vanilla bean moonshine, vodka, and whiskey. Cheers to freebies.

Click here to find the cheapest Osage Beach hotel

crater lake

Crater Lake, Oregon

Forget “there’s no place like home,” and remember that Crater Lake is “likeno place else on earth.” Embark on a magical journey with the Wizard Island Tour, where you will set off by boat into one of the deepest lakes in the world and find yourself exploring the mysterious volcanic crater that lives in the lake. If you aren’t feeling adventurous, you can ditch the hike and take in the beauty of Wizard Island from afar on the Standard Lake Cruise. After working up an appetite all day, head to Crater Lake Lodge Dining Room, known for its locally grown ingredients, to indulge in elk chops, bison meatloaf, or a rack of lamb.

Click here to find the cheapest Oregon hotel

Lake Havasu

Lake Havasu, Arizona

You don’t need to hop over the pond to experience London. Instead you can jump in a lake. In 1968 the founder of Lake Havasu purchased the old London Bridge, moved it to Arizona, and the rest is well, history. Take a 90-minute walking tour of the bridge or grab your boat and drop your anchor right below. History lovers aside, Lake Havasu is also the place for those who are looking to party in paradise, minus the whole cost of paradise. Think brews, boats, bros, and babes on a budget. Forget water sports and hikes, this is the ultimate in finding your tan, your fun, and your friends all day (and night) long.

Click here to find the cheapest Lake Havasu hotel 

Lake Caddo

Lake Caddo, Texas and Louisiana 

At Caddo Lake you’ll find yourself amongst the alligators, swampy waters, endangered species, and Bigfoot. Wait, what? Yep, rumors swirl about Bigfoot leaving its footprint in the wetland and after researching reports of an “ape-like” figure you’ll soon want to join in on the hunt. If finding a mysterious creature isn’t your thing you can take an educational outing at the park headquarters. Here you can learn about Lake Caddo, the Great Depression, and prohibition (you’ll be thankful it came to an end if you do spot Bigfoot). And if the idea of Bigfoot traipsing the land around you is truly terrifying you can always head to the water and hop on a boat tour with Caddo Lake Steamboat Company. Bigfoot can’t swim, right?

 Click here to find the cheapest Texas hotel

Tagged: California, Family, Last minute travel, Off-season, Seasonal, Sports, Tips & advice

Ciara Collins

Ciara Collins

Ciara Collins

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