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Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

While many might be saying farewell to their beach days along with summer, there are rays of sunshine for fall enthusiasts and beach bums alike. Whether you love the cool brisk days of autumn, or are still seeking a tan, or are just searching for a slice of pristine waterfront to soak up ocean views, the options are abundant. For beach lovers of all walks of life here is a list of beaches to meet your needs in the coming months.

RELATED: How to pack smart for your fall trip

1. Best beach for those not ready to say goodbye to summer: Fort Zachary, FL

courtesy of Florida State Parks

For those living in many parts of the country, there is little enthusiasm at the arrival of fall. However there are countless opportunities to soak up the warm weather on sandy beaches throughout the country. Leading the way among beaches where sunbathers can enjoy 365 days of summer is Key West. Picture palm trees and white sands in November. In the Keys, there are countless options to choose from. However one stands out from the rest. Do you like picnicking, swimming, snorkeling, paddling and fishing? How about a historic fort predating the Civil War? Well, Fort Zachary will provide the best of all of that. Exploring the historic fort after snorkeling in the morning will make visitors feel like they are in an Indiana Jones movie. Also, once you’re finished exploring, you can sample the area’s nature trails and water-sport rentals. For miraculous views of marine life, book a glass bottom boat ride.

2. Best bonfire beach: Drakes Beach/ Point Reyes, CA

Courtesy of NPS

Beaches and bonfires were made for one another. We can close our eyes and all imagine our friends and family gathered around on a brisk evening, as the sun sets and waves crash in the background. However, if there is any place where the beach bonfire is almost cliche, the prize would have to go to California, where it is a way of life. What California surf film is complete without the classic bonfire beach scene? Taking the prize, your ocean fire will feel straight off the big screen at Drakes Beach at Point Reyes located just north of San Francisco. This beach offers white sandstone cliffs, wide open sands and stunning ocean views. It’s next to the Point Reyes Lighthouse, so picture a cool brisk dusk as the fog rolls in while sea lions chatter and the fire roars. Sounds perfect, doesn’t it?

3. Best beach to embrace fall: Two Lights State Park, ME

While many of us are dismayed to say farewell to summer, if you live on the New England coast there is a silver lining; fall delivers miraculous color, particularly when looking out to sea. For those visiting Maine’s beaches in October it can feel like stepping into a postcard. Of all these craggy beaches, Two Lights State Park highlights the assets of fall more than any other. The name naturally comes from the twin lighthouses. In addition to the lighthouse, dark, jagged rocks define the coastline. Visitors will take in views of rocky coast, surf, Casco Bay and the Atlantic. While visitors will probably want to bring many layers, they will be presented with an array of foliage to compliment the ocean views.

4. Best mountain beach: Kiva Beach, South Lake Tahoe, CA

Beaches or mountains? The timeless debate. Well, for those living in the Sierras, that choice isn’t necessary. In Lake Tahoe you get the best of both. Kiva Beach presents beach dwellers with serene blue waters with mountain backdrops that will make you feel like you’re residing in a laptop screensaver. Just think 200 yards of narrow beach with prominent views of Tallac Point. Running parallel to this strip of sand is a fragile marsh zone that is home to willows, lodgepole pine, quaking aspen, marsh grass and the protected Tahoe Yellow Cress plants. Dogs are allowed on leash, but remember Lake Tahoe is recognized for its clean pristine water and locals encourage beach goers to do their part in helping preserve the lake.

5. Best Third Coast beach: Indiana Dunes State Park, IN

Who needs salt water to enjoy the beach? The Great Lakes, America’s largest bodies of freshwater, host an array of beaches that rival any ocean coastline. Residing within urban and industrial landscapes, the large Indiana Dunes with its 10 separate beaches within the park are a haven for nature goers. The dunes took thousands of years to form and, since the early 1900s, both scientists  and nature enthusiasts have been fighting to preserve them. The habitat provides a sanctuary for many plants and animals. Walking among the massive dunes, visitors will have the opportunity to see many migratory birds and enjoy a much needed getaway for from nearby Chicago.

6. Best Beach for the escapist nature lover: Olympic National Park, WA 

Courtesy of Pintrest

The dilemma for many folks looking for a quiet and serene seaside moment is that everyone else is looking for the same thing. For many, beaches draw mental images of large crowds and overdevelopment. However there are some well preserved gems along the Pacific Northwest coastline. About 73 miles of shoreline along Olympic National Park in Washington provides easily accessible remote coastal wilderness. Cliffs, rugged shorelines, tide pools and offshore islands provide an enchanting experience. Both Rialto and Kalaloch host pristine wilderness and a sanctuary for marine wildlife.

Tagged: California, Cheap Tips, Chicago, Destinations, Florida, Off-season, seattle

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

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Important coronavirus travel update: Many of CheapTickets’s trusted airline partners are waiving change fees for eligible new bookings. Find an updated list of airlines here, and stay informed about your flexible travel options.

If you think there’s no such thing as a “cheap” Hawaii vacation, you’re partially right. Airfare can be pricey and hotels, food and just about everything else cost more than they do back home. But if you’re looking to flee the chill of winter and don’t have a fortune to spend, consider a cheap Hawaii vacation on lesser-visited islands like Molokai or Kaua’i. Molokai offers pristine waters and clear blue skies, which are the perfect setting for affordable adventures. It’s off the tourist path so you won’t see a lot of large resorts and tour operators. Meanwhile, Kaua’i is known as Hawaii’s “island of discovery,” and is perfect for adventure seekers. Here you can zipline through the island’s lush valleys, sail along the Napali coast, or ride horseback in Princeville. Whichever you choose, here are some of our favorite affordable places to stay.

RELATED: 7 affordable spring break alternatives

Castle Molokai Shores

Castle Molokai Shores, Hawaii

Castle Molokai Shores, Hawaii

Featuring oceanfront condos and a large, grassy courtyard, the Castle Molokai Shores invites guests to relax amidst lush tropical surroundings. It’s also centrally located in the town of Kaunakakai and close to local markets and shopping. But the real attraction is the breathtaking sunsets and nearby waterfall hike!

Aston Islander on the Beach

Aston Islander on the Beach, Hawaii

Aston Islander on the Beach, Hawaii

With nightly rates starting at just $98, this oceanfront resort covers six acres on Kaua’i, offering killer views and high value. Activities like snorkeling, tennis, and golfing are all located nearby.

ALSO: Earn CheapCash, good toward your next trip!

Kauai Beach Resort

Kauai Beach Resort, Hawaii

Kauai Beach Resort, Hawaii

This deluxe resort sits atop 25 beautifully landscaped acres, covering Kaua’i’s longest strolling and exploring beach. Reviewers rave about the friendly staff and gorgeous ocean views.

Molokai or Kaua’i’ vacation rentals

Oceanfront Molokai Condo with Pool & Grills

Oceanfront Molokai Condo with Pool & Grills

Another way to save on accommodations is to book a Kaua’i’ or Molokai vacation rental, and CheapTickets is a great place to do that. Browse vacation rentals starting at $90 a night, choosing from garden settings, ocean views or easy beach access.

Cheap Hawaii vacations don’t mean you have to skimp on luxury. Breathtaking Hawaii vacation packages are available in all price points. Just be sure to book your hotel and cheap Hawaii flights together to earn additional package savings, and ensure that you get the best possible winter travel deals.

Tagged: Beach, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Hawaii, Types of Travel

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Susan Johnston

Susan Johnston

Susan lives and writes in the Boston area, but she can’t wait to return to the sunny shores of Hawaii!
Susan Johnston

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Slather on the sunscreen, suck in the belly and order another round of margaritas—this is spring break! But catching rays while hunting for baes doesn’t come cheap, so do yourself a favor and ditch the crowds and save some bucks at these seven cheaper and lower key spring break alternatives.

RELATED: 8 perfect spring break destinations for beach haters

Phoenix vs Las Vegas

Wet Deck at W Scottsdale

Sin City isn’t the only desert hangout with a pool party scene (just ask Maya Day & Nightclub, Wet Deck at the W Scottsdale and Liquid Sunshine at the Hotel Adeline). And it’s certainly not the only town with glitzy casinos (visit Scottsdale’s Talking Stick Resort and Wild Horse Pass Hotel & Casino, and nearby Lone Butte Casino for gaming action). What Phoenix does boast that Vegas does not is a hikeable mountain smack in the middle of the city (Camelback), a new age mecca a stone’s throw away (Sedona) and hundreds of hotels that don’t charge pesky resort fees.

White Sands National Park vs white sand beaches

White Sands National Park

Spring breakers love to flock to the Florida panhandle for its famous white sand beaches. But if it’s sinking your toes into powdery goodness you seek, newly minted White Sands National Park in New Mexico boasts 250 square miles of crystalline white gypsum sand dunes. Rent a sled at the visitors center and ride the dunes for a day of fun or do as most tourists do and simply Instagram the heck out of the place. Afterward, head to kooky Truth or Consequences and soak in a natural hot springs right on the Rio Grande!

Puerto Rico vs The Bahamas

Condado, San Juan, Puerto Rico

The Bahamas, and by that we mean Nassau, has turned into a full-on spring break hangout in recent years, but we think this island nation is better experienced sans crowds. Instead, barnstorm San Juan for spring break tomfoolery at affordable oceanfront resorts in Condado, barhopping in Old Town and day trips to El Yunque Rainforest for zip line adventures and ATV tours. Pull yourself away from the lively capital long enough to ride a wave at Rincon, eat and drink your way along the seafront boardwalk in Ponce and ditch the crowds with a day at Flamenco Beach on sleepy Culebra island.

Nashville vs New Orleans

Dive Motel and Swim Club

Unstoppable Nashville has become the it party city (just ask every bachelor and bachelorette). This spring break, trade Bourbon Street for Broadway, jazz bars for honky-tonks and muffulettas for hot chicken. If it’s boozy vibes you’re seeking, it’s always beer o’clock at no-worries tropical hangout the Margaritaville Resort, while the disco-infused Dive Motel and Swim Club offers a groovy retro retreat for plugged-in Millennials. Keep the party going at 6th and Peabody, a hybrid brewery, distillery and adult playground a stone’s throw from the trendy Gulch. In April, temps hover in the 70s.

Joshua Tree vs Palm Springs, CA

Joshua Tree National Park

As the Coachella crowd jacks up hotel prices in Palm Springs to sky-high rates, do yourself a favor and beat a laid-back retreat to the communities just outside Joshua Tree National Park. Beyond the park’s prickly desert landscapes, there’s much to see and do. Head to Pioneertown for cowboy vibes and drinks at Wild West honky-tonk Pappy and Harriet’s, snap selfies in front of the world’s largest freestanding boulder, take a “sound bath” at the out-of-this-world Integratron, have fancy bites at roadside eatery La Copine, and hang with Jupiter and Saturn at outdoor observatory Sky’s the Limit. Budget hotels abound in nearby Twentynine Palms and Yucca Valley.

Merida vs Cancun

Celestun

For starters, the cultural capital of Mexico’s Yucantan Peninsula is ranked the second safest city in North America. Merida is also the world’s hacienda capital so book one one that’s been turned into a small hotel for poolside relaxation. Pristine beaches are a short bus ride away in Progresso. Meanwhile, coastal Celestún offers secluded sands, plus swarms of pink flamingoes, UNESCO World Heritage Site Campeche boasts more rainbow-swirled buildings than a pack of Starburst, and Edzna offers the same wondrous Mayan ruins as Chichen Itza, but sans crowds—and for a mere $3.

Tampa/St. Pete vs Miami Beach

St. Pete Beach

From a price standpoint, this one’s a no brainer. On weekends, Tampa‘s funky Ybor City, a former cigar manufacturing neighborhood, resembles Bourbon Street (sans the beads) and offers late-night tomfoolery as far as the feet can stumble. In Seminole Heights, you’ll find crazy fun bars like the Independent, a watering hole located within a converted gas station. Cross the bay and make a beeline for St. Pete Beach, a needle-thin strip of sand, fronted by beachfront and rooftop bars, cheap seafood shacks and colorful resorts and motels anchored by the legendary Don CeSar.

Tagged: Beach, California, Caribbean, Destinations, Events, Florida, Holidays

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

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Wanna explore an ancient Mayan site for just $3 or bunk in a Nordic-themed hotel-hostel hybrid for less than $50? How about wandering the bustling streets of a Chinese, Indian and Muslim-influenced capital for free? The world is your oyster and it doesn’t even take the price of a pearl to see and do so much of it. Here are 10 destinations to check out in 2020 that won’t break the bank.

RELATED: 10 best cheap places to travel in 2019

Portugal

Silhouette of a little boy standing on the enter in Benagil cave on the coast of the Algarve in Portugal.

Looking for a great reason to visit western Iberia in 2020? We have a few. First, Air Portugal recently launched several non-stop flights from the U.S. for a lot less than other European airlines, and that includes a free five-day “stopover.” Second, UNESCO just recognized two new World Heritage sites in Portugal: the Bom Jesus do Monte sanctuary in Braga (to the north) and Mafra National Palace just outside of Lisbon (in the south). On top of that, you’ll still get the same sleepy beaches, fewer crowds, and remarkable outdoor adventure the country is known for, not to mention its beloved “pousadas” (aka converted luxury hotels you can afford).

Campeche, Mexico

Colorful empty colonial street in the historic center of Campeche, Mexico

Get to Campeche right now. We’re not exaggerating. Mexico’s self-described “Rainbow City” offers an old town ringed by ancient fortresses and colorful buildings that offer a siren’s call to Instagrammers, plus the city is a mere stone’s throw to Edzna, a pristine and hardly visited Mayan archaeological site ($3 entry fee) and saner alternative to overrun Chichén Itzá. This Yucatan city is so off radar that it’s near impossible to even find a souvenir shop. That’s about to end. In 2019 its lovely port welcomed its first cruise ship and more are on the way. So seriously, get here now.

Washington, DC

Parents teach daughter about busy public transportation at commuter metro station

In case you’re a cave dweller, there’s a big election happening here in autumn. But 2020 also marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment, which granted women the right to vote (make sure you use that fundamental right in said election). Celebrate throughout the year in the nation’s capital with the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the National Museum of American History, the National Portrait Gallery and more—all of which boast special  anniversary exhibitions and all of which are completely free.

North Macedonia

Breathtaking view of Saint John at Kaneo in the morning. It's a Macedonian Orthodox church situated on the cliff over Kaneo Beach overlooking Lake Ohrid in the city of Ohrid, Republic of Macedonia.

Europe has a long list of once-affordable places tourists have rushed to before the masses. Think Prague, Hungary, the Baltic States, Croatia and Portugal. In 2020 the spotlight will shine brightly on affordable North Macedonia (which only added North to its name in 2019). Wander the 12th century Old Bazaar in the capital Skopje, kayak the sublime Matka Canyon and do as European holidaymakers do and swim and sunbathe around Lake Orhid while absorbing regional history. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the oldest human settlements in Europe and was recently expanded in 2019. The cost? A 4-star hotel in Skopje costs as little as $38.

New York, New York

Happy Young Man Hanging Out In The City

It’s always a great time to visit NYC, but we’re already penciling in a trip for 2020 because there’s so. much. happening. Manhattan essentially created a brand new West Side neighborhood with the addition of Hudson Yards. (We can’t wait to take a selfie on the new observation deck and atop freebie art installation Oculus). And now that Webster Hall reopened, we’re planning on staying across the street at the hip but not tooooooo expensive (especially because they will happily squeeze two twin bunk beds into one room) new Moxy East Village or at Ace’s new budget concept Little Sister.

Neuquen, Argentina

View on the lake Nahuel Huapi near Bariloche, Argentina, from Cerro Campanario

Do you still have FOMO from missing 2017’s total solar eclipse? Or were you so wowed by it that you need to see another one, like right now? Either way, as most stargazers already know, Patagonia is the place to be in 2020 for some of the best views of the total solar eclipse, which takes place December 14. If you’re looking for some company as you gaze towards the heavens, plan on hitting the Total Eclipse Gathering in Neuquen, featuring art, music, yoga and dance (think low-tech Burning Man). And with the Argentine peso still low, you’ll be able to party in style.

Portland, Oregon

Young woman exploring a beautiful waterfall on a hike in the Columbia River Gorge outside of Portland, Oregon. It is winter but green and lush.

Perennial travel favorite Portland will only continue to expand on its traveler-friendly reputation in 2020 with a slate of new hotels, including hip Icelandic hostel-dweller fave Kex Portland, and Pearl District newcomer the Harlow Hotel. Escaping into the Pacific Northwest’s iconic forests has gotten a lot safer with alternate trails across heavily trafficked areas. And finally, sleepers and sprinters alike will appreciate the increasingly gut-busting culinary scene, now with exponentially more pizza thanks to openings of local favorites Baby Doll, Cicoria, Dove Vivi and Montesacro.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Batu Caves Lord Murugan in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Want to see a different side of Southeast Asia in 2020? Consider a trip to Kuala Lumpur, the vibrant, underrated capital of Malaysia. Although KL (as it’s often called for short) has been the second-fastest growing destination of 2019, many secrets still dwell within its colorful streets. Malaysia’s rich mix of Chinese, Indian and Muslim citizens permeates both the culinary and cultural fabric of the city, which is worth visiting either as a standalone destination, or as a gateway to the rest of Malaysia. Looking for eye-popping views of twin skyscrapers the Petrona Towers? A luxury five-star right near the Towers costs as little as $69 nightly here.

Key West, Florida

Dry tortuga near key west Florida.

Despite the Keys being devastated by Hurricane Irma in 2017, the nation’s southernmost city is on the come-up with a recent lodging boom that includes cool-kid hotels like adults only, budget hangout NYAH and the pet-friendly Perry. The latest addition, Kimpton Key West, is slated to open in 2020 as Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants’ sixth Florida property and its first in the Keys. And gentlemen, start growing out your facial hair for the 40th annual Hemingway Days in July, when bearded bibliophiles descend upon Key West to honor the iconic author with a look-alike contest, fishing tournament, street fair and more.

Aruba

Aruba, Eagle Beach,CR,GR

We already loved Aruba for its endless miles of crystal waters lapping at white sand beaches, not to mention its fascinating shipwrecks that make for great diving. But, in 2019, the southern Caribbean nation announced major new sustainability initiatives, co-led by both the government and local businesses. For example, while the government is establishing programs to reduce and upcycle plastics, hotel properties like Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort made radical changes to become the Caribbean’s first carbon-neutral resort.

Tagged: Cheap Tips, Destinations, Mexico, Top 10 list

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

CheapTickets Blog Editors

CheapTickets Blog Editors

CheapTickets editors are a diverse group of writers and bloggers who live and work all over the world and who have a passion for student-friendly budget travel coursing through their veins. Whether it's finding the most Instagrammable yurt in the Coachella Valley or uncovering dirt cheap eats in expensive cities like Tokyo and Paris, our writers take the road less traveled to uncover the world's best deals and destinations.
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So you think your dreams of visiting Fiji are just that—a dream that will never come true? We’re here to show you that this idyllic but famously distant and expensive destination is quite a bit more accessible than you might think.

RELATED: 7 breathtaking cruise ports around the world

Getting there

Generally, cheapest flights into Fiji will go into Nadi International Airport, the Fijian capital located on the main island. Once there, it’s relatively easy to hop around the country’s 300-plus islands. You can even buy a multi-day ferry pass through tour companies like Awesome Adventures, or save big on excursions booked directly through Cheap Tickets.

Exploring

Set sail from Nadi and take a 7-hour day cruise ($106) to snorkel the sparkling waters of Savala Island, snuggle up during a cozy sunset cruise ($81), up your spice game with a visit to a local Nadi market and cooking class ($76) or splurge with a snorkel with sharks ($154). Whether it’s water, food, culture, or history you’re looking for, you’ll be able to find affordable tours and activities regardless of your personal tastes.

Dining

Whether you’re aiming to stay on the main island, cruise around the smaller islands, adventure in the forests and highlands, snorkel the clear blue waters, learn about the history and culture of Fiji, or just stuff yourself with tons of delicious seafood, you should be able to do so on a relatively decent budget. If you’re based in or near Nadi, consider dining at Tata’s Curry House or Daikoku Restaurant. And if you’re in Pacific Harbour, definitely don’t miss Skinny Bean Cafe—all solid budget options.

Staying

When you’re deciding where to stay, remember that there are plenty of places to go besides the main island, though the main island does offer convenience and solid home base. If you’re looking for the quintessential Pacific beach hut vibe, the Fiji Marriott Resort Momi Bay will probably check all of the boxes for you. There are plenty of different accommodation options at this resort, but you can book a comfortable King Deluxe Room with a lagoon view for less than $250 per night. It isn’t the most inexpensive option on Fiji, but considering the natural draw for vacationers, it’s an intermediate price for an exemplary property.

Oarsman's Bay Lodge Fiji

Photo courtesy of Oarsman’s Bay Lodge

If you’re headed to the Yasawa Islands (an archipelago of 20 volcanic islands) as so many dream to do, we recommend checking out Oarsman’s Bay Lodge on Nacula Island. At this property, you can snag a Deluxe Villa that includes one King bed and one Twin bed for about $131 per night. Note that there is a compulsory per-person charge for an onsite meal plan, but that means that you’ll have meals taken care of for the duration of your stay. Also, who doesn’t love a cornucopia of freshly-caught seafood? If you want to get out and explore, it is easy to go hiking or biking from this property, and you can go on ecotours or go adventuring to nearby caves.

Some folks come to Fiji so that they can really get away, and if that sounds like you, head to a tiny island off the east coast of the main island. Toberua Island Resort includes a golf course, full-service spa, and a private white-sand beachfront area. The property also has an onsite restaurant and bar, and you can purchase a full breakfast for a fee. The best part about this one is the price breakdown, because you can get a Tropical Oceanfront Bure for about $208 per night, and it can sleep four. Bring your friends to Toberua Island for a fun week away and relax, visit Naililili Cathedral, and explore the Colo-I-Suva forest park.

Tagged: Beach, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Types of Travel

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Caroline Lupini

Caroline Lupini

Caroline Lupini

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Mexico is known for its heavy-hitter tourist destinations—think Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Los Cabos, Mexico City, etc. The list goes on, and for good reason: These destinations contain some of the world’s best beaches, cultural attractions and UNESCO heritage sites. But with great reputation inevitably comes great crowds. Fortunately for Mexico, it’s packed with scores of destinations still coming into their own. Think under-the-radar beaches, authentic colonial cities and ancient ruins buried deep in the jungle—all without hordes of tourists. But no secret lasts forever, so get to these five next-level Mexican destinations before everybody else does.

RELATED: 10 best cheap places to travel in 2019

mexico, guanajato city

Guanajato City

Guanajuato City

Mexico’s northern central state of Guanajuato isn’t new to the tourism scene, thanks to its cultural capital, San Miguel de Allende, which often finds itself awarded top accolades like “Best City in the World” by the likes of Travel + Leisure. But the state has another city that is coming into its own, a city that boasts just as much charm and history, with far fewer crowds. Guanajuato City has been growing over the last few years as a center for business and industry. Because of this, there has been increased air travel to the destination, especially on United Airlines, which has direct flights from San Antonio and Chicago. UNESCO has named it a World Heritage Site, thanks to its colonial architecture, pastel-colored buildings, cobblestone streets, wide tree-lined plazas, galleries, churches, and the iconic Templo La Valenciana, which overlooks the entire city from a hilltop. Guanajuato is also the birth city of Diego Rivera, Mexico’s most important muralist, and his childhood home has been converted into a museum where the ground floor is a recreation of the original house, with the upstairs used for original paintings, sketches and temporary exhibits.

Mexico

Todos Santos

Los Cabos may be the land of glitzy hotels and glamorous yachts, but just 45 minutes north, travelers will find the sleepy seaside town of Todos Santos. One of Mexico’s so-called Magical Towns (a designation given by Mexico’s tourism board to towns known for providing a “magical” experience, thanks to their natural beauty, cultural richness, traditions or other factors), it has long been a favorite among budget travelers and surfers seeking its convivial, laid-back lifestyle, massive swells, and its blend of authentic culture and seaside living. Art galleries, cafes and coffee shops abound, as are small boutiques, tapas bars and beach hangouts.

campeche, mexico

Campeche

Campeche

Mexico’s new president has proposed a very controversial $8 billion Mayan train route to run along the Yucatan peninsula. If completed, it will open up Cancun tourism to more far-flung destinations, like Campeche, Merida and Valladolid. Before these new, once hard-to-reach destinations become easily accessible by a tourist train, visit the colorful, vibrant, seaside town of Campeche, which explodes on the scene like a vision from a storybook. Colonial buildings painted bright yellows, pinks, reds and blues flank cobblestone streets. The walled Centro Historico is home to a gleaming white cathedral that stands at the center of the tree-lined plaza, and there are beautiful sunsets that dip behind the Gulf of Mexico, on which the city sits. It’s a beautiful city to visit to try local cuisine, like pan de cazon, layers of white fish between tortillas smothered in tomato sauce, or panuchos de pavo, which are small corn cakes topped with shredded turkey, sour cream, and cheese.

Guadalajara, Mexico

Guadalajara

Guadalajara

Known as Mexico’s second city (behind Mexico City), Guadalajara is drawing massive interest among artists and creative youth, thanks in part to a booming tech industry that is sweeping the city. As a result, the city is blossoming into a thriving juxtaposition of traditional and modern. For example, the city skyrocketed from 5,000 restaurants to 17,000 in only the last six years. These trendy eateries sit alongside traditional markets like Tlaquepaque, which is one of the largest crafts markets in all of Mexico. Six new hotels opened in 2018, including Hard Rock Hotel Guadalajara, 1970 Posada Guadalajara, Aloft Guadalajara, Hilton Midtown, City Express & Suites and FCH Providencia Urban Boutique. An additional 15 hotels are set to open between now and 2020, as well.

Costa Brava, Mexico

Mahahual

Mahahual

While Tulum might be the last stop for many travelers venturing south from Cancun, keep driving another couple of hours to be rewarded with breathtaking sugary beaches, laid-back beach bars, and an eco-friendly boutique hotel scene that mixes nature with luxury. Mahahual is a small seaside beach town that is the nucleus of the Costa Maya—the southern coast of Quintana Roo and home to the Sian Ka’an Biosphere, as well as some of the best snorkeling north of Belize. Right now, the closest airport is Chetumal, the capital of Quintana Roo, but as there are limited flights from the U.S., most travelers fly into Cancun and then end their journeys in Tulum. It’s worth the extra drive to be rewarded with spectacular Caribbean water, a serene environment and jewels of hotels that have yet to be discovered by mass tourism.

Tagged: Beach, Destinations, Mexico

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Megan Drillinger

Megan Drillinger

Megan Drillinger

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The coastal communities that hug North Florida’s shores west of the Apalachicola River are magnets to sun seekers looking to catch rays and spend downtime basking on the area’s famed sugar-white beaches, whose enchanting color is a byproduct of quartz eroded from the Southern Appalachian Mountains. From big cities to small towns and one inland gem, we’ve paired personality types with corresponding hot spots to help you find your perfect Panhandle.

RELATED: Unforgettable Florida road trips for every traveler type

Destin, Panhandle, Florida

Destin, FL

The Family Fun Seeker: Destin-Fort Walton Beach

These Emerald Coast abodes, perched on a peninsula in between Choctawhatchee Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, come by their family vacation bona fides thanks to placid warm turquoise waters and plenty of rides and slides. For whooshing tubular thrill rides, cart the kids on down to Big Kahuna’s Water & Adventure Park, where they’ll splash down over 40 wet and wild attractions, including the 5-storey Jumanji plunge. Sashay over to the Honolulu Half Pipe to body board or surf a continuous wave that rushes 17,000 gallons of water per minute. And you don’t visit “the world’s luckiest fishing village” without at least letting the ‘lil ones dangle a line into the water and hope for a bite.

Spring Break, Florida

The Spring Breaker: Panama City Beach

The super cute antics of flip-happy, synchronized swimming dolphins and smoochy sea lions at Gulf World Marine Park bridge all generation gaps. Ditto for the swashbuckling adventure on tap on a Sea Dragon Pirate Cruise. Still, there’s good reason MTV’s Floribama Shore chose Panama City Beach as the location for the hard partying series, which essentially amounts to Jersey Shore south. Local party scene haunts Newby’s Brew & Booze House, Donovan’s Reef Lounge, Club La Vela and other hopping area beach bars get plenty of play on the show. So if double fisting two-buck beer along with throngs of fast friends sounds like a plan, Panama City Beach will not disappoint.

Golf

Photo | Paul Benson – Flickr

The Golfer: Gulf Shores & Orange Beach Alabama

If your must-have beach accessory is a sand wedge, Gulf Shores is crawling with tantalizing courses primed to show your foursome a good time. Sure, Florida offers golf aplenty, but just a short haul over the state line into the Sweet Home State, you’ll find the Panhandle’s finest tracks. Put Craft Farms double dose of postcard pretty eighteen-hole Arnold Palmer designs on your must-play list. Then head to Gulf Shores Club, the grand dame of area golf courses. Don’t leave off Kiva Dunes, named for the Indian word for spiritual and physical renewal. Max out on your golf swing therapy on this 7092-yard stunner sporting massive greens averaging thirty to fifty yards deep. As for the ultimate 19th hole in these parts, look no further than the Flora-Bama Lounge, the legendary border-straddling roadhouse that has been rhapsodized about by everyone from Jimmy Buffet and Kenny Chesney to John Grisham. Easy on the bushwackers though, the frosty alcoholic milkshake, the honky tonk’s signature tipple, packs a much bigger kick than meets the sip.

ALSO: Earn CheapCash on your Pandhandle vacation—it’s easy and it’s free!

Florida Panhandle, Tate's Hell State Forest

Tate’s Hell State Forest | Trover Photo by Jason Souza

The Tree Hugger: Tate’s Hell State Forest

Go to Hell and back and live to tell about it. This 202,000-acre tract features flatwoods, savannas and a network of creeks and black river waterways to glide over on a kayak or canoe. There are no centralized campgrounds, instead there are 59 areas to set up a tent and hike, bike, and simply enjoy nature and the abundant wildlife. Endangered species that call these bio-diverse woods home include the burrow digging gopher tortoise and the red-cockaded woodpecker. Be sure to visit the dwarf cypress boardwalk in the heart of Tate’s Hell State Forest where the stunted dwarf cypress stand no more than six to fifteen feet tall. The forest’s grisly name comes from a 19th-century homesteader who, as legend has it, waded into these here woods to chase after a panther who had attacked his livestock. Seven days later he emerged in a clearing by Carrabelle and said: “My name is Cebe Tate, and I just came from Hell.”

Tallahassee, Florida

Tallahassee, Florida | Trover photo by Cassandra Collings

The Seminoles Fanatic: Tallahassee

If you bleed garnet and gold and break out into a spontaneous tomahawk chop at the sight of a spear-wielding student donning moccasins and leather garb charging down a field atop an Appaloosa horse, a pilgrimage to the homeland of Seminoles nation is in order. FSU campus attractions include the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Werkmeister Window, a 22-foot stained glass masterpiece made up over 10,000 individual pieces. Of course no visit to Florida’s capital is complete without a tour of Doak Campbell Stadium, the glorious red-bricked edifice seats 80,000 fans and is where Seminoles greats Deion Sanders, Warrick Dunn, and Charlie Ward all forged their respective legends.

National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola, Florida

National Naval Aviation Museum

The Aviation Geek: Pensacola

Welcome to the danger zone, Top Gun fans. The city that almost rhymes with cherry cola has a tendency to leave aviation nerds breathless. About 150 warbirds are on display at the National Naval Aviation Museum’s 37-acre grounds and if you want to see some soaring aerobatic maneuvers, the Blue Angels squadron perform their tight diamond formation, inverts, and other tricks in their thundering F/A-18 Hornets twice a week.  For more sky-high culture, check out the Pensacola Symphony or Pensacola Opera, both are great spots for Maverick and Goose to take a hot date.

Tagged: Destinations, Florida

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Mike Dojc
Globetrotting bon vivant Mike Dojc has slung copy for Nike, AAA, Geico, Maxim, Esquire.com, Atlanta Magazine, Score Golf, re:porter, ClublLink Life, Inside Fitness, Fatherly, Toronto Star, Globe & Mail and many other outlets. His YouTube comedy channel Slinging Birdies will leave you in stitches.
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Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.