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Like the U.S., Mexico is made up of numerous states, all offering their own beauty, culture, experiences and, of course, culinary feats. From breathtaking—and ahem, exclusive—views in Los Cabos to Cancun’s endless party scene, the right spot for your wanderlust is out there. And, there’s an all-inclusive resort to suit every taste, too, so you don’t have to worry about anything once you touch down. Whether you’re traveling with a gaggle of gals, your partner or kids, there’s an accommodation for every type of traveler.

RELATED: Get to this overlooked Mexico island before everyone else does

paradisus by melia cabos

Paradisus by Melia Cabos

The entire clan

For some, the idea of an all-inclusive screams dodgy buffets and sunburned children, but at Paradisus by Melia Cabos in Los Cabos, the stereotype is upended. Here, an oversized pool gives kiddos plenty of space to splash around, and an on-site kid’s club gives mom and dad a break, too. As a bonus, there’s an entire separate check-in area—complete with a snack bar for children at their height level—that takes some of the chaos out of family arrivals. With healthy options and even a menu crafted by a Michelin-starred chef, have a relaxing vacation… with babes in tow.

The Grand at Moon Palace

The Grand at Moon Palace

The party person

Whether your best single friend is finally getting married or you’re planning a family reunion with all of your extended cousins, you need a resort that can host your party. Though options are countless in Cancun, The Grand at Moon Palace is the mack daddy of all-inclusives, featuring countless dining areas, nightclubs, wedding venues, pools and of course, entertainment. Spend time hopping from one swim-up bar to another, supercharge your adrenaline on their water slides or sample a bit of everything at their various buffets. Bachelorette parties: Moon Palace also offers makeup, facial and hairstyling classes—complete with a cocktail (or three).

Fairmont Mayakoba

Fairmont Mayakoba

The honeymooner

If you’ve never heard of the Mayakoba region, you’re in for quite a romantic treat. Sandwiched between Cancun and Playa Del Carmen is this eco-friendly dreamland, filled with birds, monkeys, crocodiles and turtles. It’s home to many luxury properties—from Banyan Tree to Rosewood—but Fairmont Mayakoba is the only one to offer an “all-inclusive 5-star” experience. For an additional nightly fee, newlyweds can enjoy culinary and mixology creations at every on-site restaurant. Couples also benefit from jungle seclusion, as well as private beach access, en suite infinity pools and various tours, including kayaking, windsurfing and more. Though it is definitely on the pricier side, you only get married once.

RELATED: Join CheapCash and enjoy a fiesta of savings!

Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta

Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta

The backpacker

If your post-college plans include trekking through Central America and Mexico, you’ll probably need a break from hostels after a few weeks. But since most resorts are beyond a backpacker’s budget, you’ll need to find one that’s at a manageable price point, like Fiesta Americana Puerto Vallarta. Featuring a taco shack, an Italian and Japanese restaurant, as well as a buffet, this inexpensive all-inclusive might not be fancy, but it definitely won’t leave you hungry. It also is only twenty minutes from the Zona Romantica, making for a cheap ride into town to explore PV’s famed art scene and nightlife.

Excellence Playa Mujeres

Excellence Playa Mujeres

The love birds

Whether you’ve been hitched for a decade or three, making it through the many highs and lows of married life is cause for celebration. Stop searching for the best-of-the-best and allow us to introduce you to the majestic all-inclusive Excellence Playa Mujeres near Cancun. Playa Mujeres is an adults-only property, so you won’t have to worry about children splashing water in your champagne glass. Instead, lounge in your oversized and opulent suite, play a round at their private golf course, and of course, spend at least one afternoon at their high-end spa.

Occidental Xcaret Destination

Occidental Xcaret Destination

The Instagrammer

Even if you aren’t Insta-famous, you might still enjoy snapping a pic (or 100) to stir envy in your friends back home. Though the crystal-blue waters of the Caribbean don’t require a filter, if you want a background that truly earns those double-taps, consider staying at the all-inclusive Occidental at Xcaret Destination in the Riviera Maya region. You’ll definitely have to set aside time for a photo shoot, since you can pick from an adults-only saltwater pool on the edge of a cliff; crisp, white sands on a private beach within a cove; luxe cabanas overlooking the sea; monkeys dangling in the trees behind you; parrots chirping in the lobby or traipsing across bridges in the jungle. Just make sure to bring an extra battery pack.

Tagged: Destinations, Mexico

Lindsay Tigar

Lindsay Tigar

Lindsay is a lifestyle and travel writer, and content strategist. She is a passport stamp collector with an affinity for great wine, coffee and conversation. You can find a full collection of her work at lindsaytigar.com.
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Punta Cana is one of the Caribbean’s hottest destinations for a reason. Fantastic beaches, over-the-top pools, rainforests, history, culture and of course the Brugal family rum that’s been flowing since 1888. Add wind surfing, ziplining, sailing, kayaking and golf to the mix, and this could be just about anyone’s dream vacation. Fortunately, Punta Cana is also famous for its variety of resorts, so whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway, family trip, guy or gals adventure, or even a solo vacation, you’re likely to find something to fit your budget—even if it’s a modest one. Here’s a look at some of Punta Cana’s best all-inclusive resorts that offer big value at a great price. And to get an even better deal, be sure to check out our latest sales and promo code here.

RELATED: 10 things you shouldn’t miss in Nassau and Paradise Island

Photo courtesy of Barcelo Bavaro Grand Resort

Barceló Bávaro Grand Resort

Who doesn’t like a two-fer? That’s what you get at Barcelo Bávaro Grand Resort, set on two miles of white sand on one of Punta Cana’s most beloved beaches, Bávaro. For families, there’s the Barceló Bávaro Palace and for something more romantic, there’s Barceló Bávaro Beach – Adults Only. Check into one hotel and you can enjoy what the other has to offer as well. That’s no small matter when you consider that Barceló Bávaro Palace features a Club House Entertainment District, a shopping promenade, 24-hour sports bar, 24-hour casino, world-class spa and other amenities. Moms and dads looking for some some quality couple time can reserve one of the property’s babysitters and then sneak off to Barceló Bávaro Beach – Adults Only. There’s also a Kids Club for young ones, while teens can enjoy bowling, mini golf, a wave pool, laser tag and teen disco. Budget: Prices start at $200/night

Photo courtesy of Iberostar Dominicana All-Inclusive

Iberostar Dominicana All-Inclusive

Can you believe there’s a 5-star beachfront all-inclusive starting at under $100 a night? You’ve got to see the Iberostar Dominicana to believe it. Located on the perfect waters of Playa Bávaro, the property features tropical gardens, a spa, shopping, supermarket, pharmacy, casinos, live shows, waterparks and more. At Star Camp, kids ages 4 to 12 get the chance to ham it up in an improvised video clip, take on group projects like creating a large scale work of art or challenging themselves to scientific experiments to create snow. Feast at five a la carte restaurants, featuring international, Asian, Italian and Dominican cuisines. Then, work it off at the fitness center or by scuba diving or playing tennis. Budget: Prices start at $91/night

Photo courtesy of Ocean Blue and Sand Beach Resort

Ocean Blue & Sand Beach Resort

They aim to please at Ocean Blue & Sand. Water babies will be besides themselves with kayaking, windsurfing and sailing. If you’re interested in diving but inexperienced, there are in-pool scuba demonstrations. Much to divers’ delight, there’s also a PADI diving center. If the beach isn’t your thing, there are four pools, including two with Jacuzzis—in case you tire of the one in your room. Feeling adventurous? There’s a climbing wall on the beach. If not, bike or play tennis. Kids and teens can do their own thing with their own clubs on property. Come together for dinner at one of eight restaurants serving up American, Mexican or Caribbean cuisines, and more. Budget: Prices start at $160/night

ALSO: Sign up for CheapCash and add even more savings to these stellar resort deals!

Photo courtesy of AlSol Luxury Village

AlSol Luxury Village

AlSol will feel like home sweet home with its villa-style suites. You have your choice of a European Plan (that’s lodging only) or an all-inclusive option. The 4-star resort is next to downtown Punta Cana and San Juan Shopping Center. You’re also close to the Cap Cana Marina, Juanillo Beach and Punta Espada Golf Course. If you want to just hang out enjoying your individually decorated suite that includes a kitchen with full-size refrigerators and stovetops, plus a private patio, do so. The spa, four pools, nightclub, five restaurants and fitness center will keep you busy and relaxed, without the financial stress of a splurge. Budget: Prices start at $145/night

Photo courtesy of Breathless Punta Cana Resort and Spas Adults Only All Inclusive

Breathless Punta Cana Resort & Spas Adults Only All Inclusive

Party people, this is your place in the sun. While a bit more of a splurge compared to some of the other resorts mentioned here, Breathless delivers when it comes to non-stop opportunities to eat, drink, dance and be merry. If you’d rather just chill, no worries: There’s a poolside DJ  keeping the music and momentum going there, while back at the beach, you can relax in a cabana with a cocktail or unwind at the spa. When hunger calls, there are 11 restaurants. As for thirst, try the curated cocktails and eight bars and lounges. An added plus: Free access to 10 bars and 10 restaurants with Exchange Privileges next door at Now Onyx Punta Cana. Budget: Prices start at $280/night

Photo courtesy of Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana

Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana

Do as much or as little as you like at Dreams Palm Beach Punta Cana. Kids have the Explorer’s Club that focuses on exploration and science, as well as a weekly camping adventure on the beach, freeing parents for the night. Teens have their own space where they can play games, sports and stand around awkwardly at disco mixers. Take advantage of non-stop activities during the day, nightly shows and theme parties, or stay poolside and keep the servers busy with your cocktail requests. Venture off the resort if you like, with day trips to Catalina Island for snorkeling and diving, Scape Park for its caverns, caves and ziplining. Budget: Prices start at $165/night

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Tagged: Beach, California, Destinations, International, Top 10 list, Types of Travel, Vacation packages

Sheryl Nance-Nash

Sheryl Nance-Nash

Sheryl Nance-Nash

Latest posts by Sheryl Nance-Nash (see all)

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Have you ever been somewhere that you loved so much you almost didn’t want to tell people about it? As word spreads, for better or worse, that place you loved inevitably will change. If you’re like us, you are always looking for that next “it destination.” We think we might have found a pretty great one in Mexico, but you’ll need to get there soon—while it’s still under the radar!

RELATED: 7 worthwhile Mexico destinations that aren’t Cancun

Isla Holbox Mexico - GettingStamped

Come see what all the fuss is on the tiny Mexican island | Photo by GettingStamped.com

Our current obsession is Mexico’s Isla Holbox. Located just 45 miles north of ultra-popular tourist hotspot Cancun, Holbox is an island that feels worlds away. Dangling off the northern tip of the Yucatan Peninsula in the Gulf of Mexico is this thin strip of sand, which until a few years ago used to be nothing more than a simple fishing village.

Isla Holbox Mexico - GettingStamped

Come swim with whale sharks every summer | Photo by GettingStamped.com

Isla Holbox first found its way onto travelers’ radars when visitors began following whale sharks on their annual migration from Isla Mujeres. Turns out Isla Holbox is one of the best places in the world to swim with whales sharks and they come to the island every summer like clockwork. A short boat ride from the pier and you could be in the water with thousands of (harmless) whale sharks as they feed in the plankton-rich waters.

Isla Holbox Mexico - GettingStamped

Come gaze into the green waters of Isla Holbox | Photo by GettingStamped.com

The same water that the whale sharks swim thousands of miles to get to has also started to lure people from all over the world. The water here is different. At first glance, you might think pictures from Isla Holbox have been Photoshopped, due to the water’s unique clear green hue (versus the turquoise waters you’ll find in Cancun and other parts of the Caribbean).

ALSO: Save on your next Mexico hotel when you sign up for CheapCash—it’s free to join!

The line we heard a lot on our last trip to Isla Holbox was, “This is going to be the next Tulum,” and we have to agree. Once off the path, Tulum has become increasingly more mainstream following stories of celebrities attending bikini boot camps on its sugar white sands. The prices of rooms have also climbed, too, but not to worry: Isla Holbox still welcomes all visitors with its low-key and affordable barefoot beach vibe.

Isla Holbox Mexico - GettingStamped

Settle into Isla Holbox’s laid back beach vibes | Photo by GettingStamped.com

The only downside is, that with beaches like this, it’s not going to stay a secret forever. Right now Isla Holbox is just the perfect size: It has everything you need with great budget and mid-range hotel options, a little bit of nightlife, and a budding restaurant scene. It’s not going to stay like this forever, so come and check out this little slice of paradise for your next beach holiday.

Isla Holbox Mexico - GettingStamped

Relax on the miles and miles of white sand on Isla Holbox | Photo by GettingStamped.com

How to plan a trip to Isla Holbox

To find this hidden gem, fly into Cancun International Airport (CUN). From here you can rent a car and drive to the town of Chiquilá. Park your rental there for 50 pesos per day and take the ferry to Isla Holbox. Alternatively, you can book transport packages from the airport to Isla Holbox, including the ferry. Once on the island, you can flag down a golf cart to take you and your luggage from the dock to your hotel since there are no cars allowed on the island. For hotels, we suggest finding a place on the beach that fits your budget and is within walking distance to the town center for easy access to options for dinner and nightlife.

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Tagged: Beach, Mexico, Types of Travel

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If you thought hip hop’s epic East Coast-West Coast rivalry was contentious, you should see how America’s two coasts beef about their beaches. So who has the best? Read on to find out.

RELATED: America’s best beachfront bike rides

Battle of the Beaches: East Coast vs West Coast infographic

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Tagged: Beach, California, Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Florida, L.A., New York City, Types of Travel

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South Florida isn’t exactly synonymous with a cheap vacation, but in the Fort Lauderdale area, you’ll find a surprising number of free and inexpensive activities that don’t skimp on fun. Here are some of the town’s best affordable attractions. 

RELATED: 5 unforgettable Florida road trips for every personality

Bonnet House is gorgeous inside and out. | Photo: Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.

It’s easy being green

The waterfront Bonnet House Museum and Gardens is one of Fort Lauderdale’s must-do attractions. The 1920’s estate includes a mansion, art museum, gallery and more. But if the $20 admission price isn’t in your budget, you can feel rich when you spend $10 to see only the gardens, which include tropical landscapes, a rotating collection of orchids and the occasional manatee in the nearby canal.

Rent a canoe, and explore the mangrove trails near the Anne Kolb Nature Center. | Photo: Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Back to nature

Get away from the noise with a visit to the Anne Kolb Nature Center, which is part of the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail. Paddle through mangrove wetlands, take the elevator to the top of the observation tower for a view of the Atlantic Ocean and on weekends, observe a feeding in the exhibit hall’s giant aquarium.

Take a free ride

Not only is the Riverwalk Water Trolley one of the most fun ways to get around town, but it won’t cost you a dime. The water taxi runs daily along the New River, allowing passengers to hop on and off near the city’s most popular attractions.

Paint the town

If you like Miami’s Wynwood Walls, then be sure to check out the Downtown Hollywood Mural Project. This is the largest walkable mural scene in Broward County, featuring buzzworthy artists from South Florida and across the world. Stroll through the area anytime, or swing by on the third Saturday evening of the month for a guided tour and a chance to see the artists at work.

When Mother Nature foils your plans, the Museum of Discovery and Science is a great way to occupy the kids | Photo: MODS.

Discover the great indoors

The Museum of Discovery and Science makes a great contingency plan for families on a rainy (or too hot) summer day. Tickets cost $16 for adults and $13 for kids, but with two floors of hands-on exhibits and an IMAX theater ($8 adults/$6 kids), the all-day fun is well worth the price of admission. Plus, from May 1 to September 30, 2018, take advantage of 2-for-1 Summer Savings offers at MODS and dozens of other South Florida attractions.

ALSO: Earn CheapCash, good towards hotels, only with CheapTickets!

Hooray for Hollywood

The Hollywood Beach Broadwalk is your destination for people-watching. The 2.5-mile oceanfront thoroughfare is lined with cafes, boutiques and live entertainment, attracting joggers, bikers and pedestrians. Getting there is easy; ride the Hollywood Trolley with $1 fares between the beach and downtown.

In da house

Get up to speed on Fort Lauderdale’s history with a visit to the Historic Stranahan House Museum. Built in 1901 by businessman Frank Stranahan and his education activist wife, Ivy, the home offers a glimpse into pioneer life. Friendly, knowledgeable tour guides make the experience well worth the $12 admission fee.

Nightlife meets the arts at FATVillage. Credit FATVillage.

Get FAT

On the last Saturday night of each month (excluding December), head to the four-block creative district north of downtown to visit art galleries, watch artists working in their studios, browse the prop warehouse and catch live performances in the street or in one of two theaters. The kid- and pet-friendly Flagler Arts and Technology Village art walk, better known as FATVillage, happens rain or shine.

Chic street

There’s always something happening on Las Olas Boulevard, the main artery of Fort Lauderdale’s shopping and dining scene. Browse the art galleries, clothing boutiques and jewelry stores, then grab a coffee and a croissant at one of the many sidewalk cafes, and watch the beautiful people go by.

Retail therapy

Bargain hunters, don’t miss the deals at Sawgrass Mills—the largest outlet mall in the United States. This shopper’s paradise features more than 350 stores, including Calvin Klein, Under Armour, Tory Burch and So. Many. More.

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Tagged: Beach, Cheap City, USA, City, Family, Florida, FREE!

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We all know travel can be sublime, relaxing, ridiculously fun and even life changing. But can travel really be affordable? While that’s a relative question, we’ve rounded up 13 fantastically inexpensive destinations that you should try to visit this year, from an exotic locale that lets you ply its waterways on a houseboat (affordably!) to an unsung American beach town.

RELATED: 10 great hotels for when you’re young, broke and awesome

City hall and Place Jacques-Cartier in Montreal, Quebec

Montreal, Canada

The US dollar is still pretty strong against the Canadian dollar, and where else can you feel a world away so close to home? We love Montreal for its European vibe, great art and music scenes, and vast and varied dining options. Foodie to-do lists should include noshing on one of the city’s famous hot, fresh bagels from St. Viateur, indulging in poutine at La Banquise or canard en conserve at Au Pied de Cochon, and sampling cheese, chocolates and more at Jean-Talon Market. Interesting hotel options abound here, too, including the Hotel Epik Montreal, which is housed in an old stone-walled warehouse in the city’s historic Vieux Port neighborhood.

Photo courtesy of Sreekrishna Houseboats

Kerala, India

India has been a budget traveler’s mecca for decades now. And while picking just one destination in this huge, diverse, beautiful country is a tall order, we especially love the Kerala backwaters for its one-of-a-kind houseboat experiences. You can rent a boat like this one (get one with an upper deck for added privacy), and have your own chef, captain and boat boy at your service. Essentially, it’s a private yacht experience for much, much less money! Once aboard, you’ll cruise the canals, floating past fishing villages, colorful houses and paddy fields. We promise this will be one of the most relaxing and unforgettable travel experiences you’ll ever have.

Folly Beach, South Carolina.

Folly Beach, SC

This Atlantic gem makes for a great, affordable day trip from Charleston (about 20 minutes to the north) or a long weekend in its own right. Already a regional favorite for families, Folly Beach brings in summer vacationers with sun, sand and surf, plus a nice variety of restaurants and fun shops along Center Street. If you’re up for more than just lounging, though, try your hand at kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing on the pier, boating and some of the seriously best surfing on the East Coast.

Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico

Guadalajara, Mexico

Ditch the beaches for once and instead give Mexico’s underrated second city the attention it deserves. The old city is infused with the sounds of mariachi bands and attractions like the Guadalajara Cathedral and the Mercado San Juan de Dios. Meanwhile, there’s the Providencia neighborhood, a hipster mecca and home to quirky shops and happening eateries like Cappucino’s 96. The state of Jalisco is the birthplace of tequila so be sure and spend a day among endless fields of blue agave and sampling tequila at big name producers like Cazadores, Cuervo and Herradura.

Edinburgh Castle, Scotland

Edinburgh, Scotland

The US dollar is still strong against the British pound thanks to Brexit, so the UK is still more affordable than ever for US travelers. But instead of pricey London, why not check out a gorgeous Scottish city like Edinburgh? Edinburgh Castle is the main attraction here, but you’ll also want to take on the Royal Mile, a scenic walk from the castle to Parliament through Old Town, and make the hike up to Calton Hill to take in breathtaking views of the city. Meanwhile, the trendy Leith neighborhood is great place to duck into a pub for a whisky or beer, or feast on some haggis—we dare you!

Beautiful coastal waters around Destin Florida

The Florida Panhandle

Cheap and cheerful, the Panhandle offers a little something for everyone. Enjoy a whiff of the cosmopolitan in downtown Pensacola; powdery white sand beaches in Destin; spring break antics in Panama City; camping, hiking and canoeing in Tate’s Hell State Forest; and quirky small towns like Seaside and Apalachicola. Much of the region caters to families and the budget-minded, including bargain hotels, irresistible happy hour deals and a plethora of ebullient and wallet-friendly seafood eateries right on the water.

ALSO: See more of the world for less—sign up for CheapCash today!

Morocco

In 1942, Casablanca captured the imaginations of millions of Americans. Morocco was portrayed as an exciting, mysterious, exotic locale where anything can happen. The intrigue has yet to wane. Besides the must-see cities of Fes and Casablanca, all eyes are on Marrakesh, thanks to the interesting new YSL Museum, dedicated to the life’s work of legendary fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. Add to the mix a new art fair, new galleries and a spate of shiny new hotels, and this could be a banner year for the city.

Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City

SLC made our list for its reasonable hotel prices, easy access to some of the best skiing in the country, and a quick hop to breathtaking National Parks (think Bryce Canyon, Arches and Zion—all less than five hours away). Not so outdoorsy? No, problem. Be sure to catch a sunset over Great Salt Lake, explore Temple Square and check out the city’s robust film, art, dining and bar scenes.

Jamaica island, Montego Bay

Jamaica

Jamaica was left more or less untouched by last season’s spate of deadly hurricanes. And while that’s a great reason to make it your next tropical getaway, we also love that destinations such as Montego Bay, Negril and Ocho Rios have plenty of affordable hotels and budget-minded all-inclusive resorts. And lest you think this is just another “could be anywhere” beach destination, makes sure you leave the resort long enough to catch a reggae show in the place where the genre was born, tour picturesque  sugar cane and coffee plantations, or hike your way around stunning natural areas like the  Blue Mountains or Dunn’s River Falls.

Sofia, capital of Bulgaria

Bulgaria

Tourism in the cheap and enchanting Balkan States has surged in recent years, but you don’t have to rush to Croatia just because all your friends are doing it. Bulgaria boasts plenty of Black Sea coastline and sun seeker-ready beaches to go with it. There’s also ancient monasteries, beguiling mountain ranges (the country is a skiier’s paradise), glacial lakes and the Instagrammable (check out the St. Alexander Nevski Cathedral) and easy to navigate capital city of Sofia. The country also boasts, ahem, fewer Americans.

Looking out of a balcony “window” into the La Placita village and downtown Tucson city skyline.

Tucson, AZ

A multi-culti blend of Mexican, European and Native American influences, sun-drenched Tucson has it all. Hemmed in on both sides by the stunning and mesmerizing Saguaro National Park (think a wide range of hiking plus attractions like Old Tucson Studios and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum) the city’s fun, funky and approachable dining and nightlife scene is not to be missed. Hit up eateries like 5 Points Market and Restaurant, Agustín Kitchen, Penca and HUB Creamery, and spend your nights boozing it up at places like the Congress Hotel and Owl’s Club.

Philippines-GettingStamped

It doesn’t cost much to find yourself on amazing beaches like this in the Philippines | Photo by GettingStamped.com

The Philippines

Airfare to this nation of islands (well over 7,000 of them, in fact) is every penny pincher’s biggest budget conundrum, but once that hurdle is leapt, expect an extremely wallet-friendly tropical paradise. Sure, its president has authoritarian tendencies and takes pleasure in attacking the media, but the Philippines are safe and the country has much to offer the budget traveler, including surreal island scenery, unbelievable snorkeling and diving, rich treasures in the capital city of Manila and jaw-dropping prices including respectable hotels for as little as $30/nightly and hearty meals for under $5.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas, NV

Las Vegas has had a sad, challenging year, but don’t let that deter you from a visit. The city still thrums with activity 24/7 and can be a steal if you play your cards right (get it?). Hint: Bargains abound off-Strip so book a room at the oh, so happening Hard Rock, check out cheap gaming at the Orleans and hit the beautiful—and free—rooftop pool at the Downtown Grand. Penny pinchers would be wise to enjoy the many natural offerings just beyond city limits and do take a gander at the selfie-worthy desert art installation “7 Magic Mountains” before it disappears later this year.

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Tagged: Caribbean, Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Florida, Top 10 list

Jason Heidemann and Martina Sheehan

Jason Heidemann and Martina Sheehan

Jason Heidemann and Martina Sheehan

Latest posts by Jason Heidemann and Martina Sheehan (see all)

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Hawaiian shirt. Check. Colorful lei. Check. Laidback attitude and desire to escape everyday life. Check. Sounds like you’re well on your way to vacationing like a Parrot Head, those rollicking, rabid fans of trop rock troubadour Jimmy Buffett.

If you’ve got tickets to any of his upcoming shows and have travel plans around them, we’ve got a list of easy-to-follow rules that will make sure your change in latitude is the best it can be. In fact, these 10 pieces of priceless advice—which come courtesy of the 25,000-member-strong Jimmy Buffet fan group, Parrot Heads in Paradise (PHIP)—could apply to just about any vacation, or even life in general.

For those who don’t know, PHIP was first launched by fan Scott Nickerson in 1985 and the group has since raised over $46 million for charity. We can all drink to that. Now, here’s what can we learn from these rabid relaxationists…

RELATED: Don’t have Buffet tickets yet? Don’t worry, you can get them now right here on CheapTickets.com!

1. Pack the beach in your bag

Being a Parrot Head is all about that casual, relaxed beach vibe, so packing for a trip as a Parrot Head is relatively simple: shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. Beyond those basics you can add swimsuits, coconut bras, grass skirts, and even pirate paraphernalia. As for footwear, pack your flip-flops. No other footwear is required. Maybe throw in an extra pair along with some Band-Aids in case you suffer the fate that Jimmy sings about in “Margaritaville,” when he “blew out my flip flop. Stepped on a pop top. Cut my heel, had to cruise on back home.” What the Parrot Heads are trying to tell you here is, keep it simple; do not over pack.

2. Decorate your noggin’

The Kentucky Derby may be all about those elegant chapeaus the fancy ladies wear. For a Jimmy Buffet concert, fans don hats shaped like parrots, shark fins, coconuts and yes, even cheeseburgers. But why limit yourself to one item? Grab a straw hat and cover it with your own interpretation of the Parrot Head Nation—dangle plastic cheeseburgers, bananas, oranges, lobster and flamingos from it. Whatever floats your boat. There are very few sartorial rules for Parrot Heads. In other words, even on vacation, you do you.

3. Waste away in Margaritaville—any Margaritaville

Obviously, Parrot Heads flock to the chain of Margaritaville bars. But did you also know that they also convene at Landshark Bar & Grill, Cheeseburger in Paradise and 5 O’clock Somewhere? Consider the neon signs of these establishments to read “Welcome, Parrot Heads.” You may not always have a view of the ocean or be able to stick your toes in the sand at all the locations, but you’ll always be able to find an island drink served with a brightly colored umbrella. The Parrot Head life lesson here is that it’s not so much about the destination you’re in as it is the company you’re with (and the drink in your hand).

4. Set an alarm for 5pm

Parrot Heads are fond of reminding each other, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere,” in tribute to the Alan Jackson music video featuring Jimmy Buffett. As he sings, “At a moment like this, I can’t help but wonder, what would Jimmy Buffet do?” Never miss the start of happy hour with a daily reminder of the unofficial kickoff to cocktail time. Does that mean you have to wait until 5 for a drink? The Parrot Heads don’t. As the song says, “It’s only half past twelve, but I don’t care. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.” Parrot Heads aren’t known to adhere to rigid schedules, and neither should you—so on your next trip, leave some time to relax and see where the day takes you.

ALSO: Spend a little extra time in Margaritaville when you save big with CheapCash! Sign up today.

5. Practice your fin dance everywhere you go

Have you ever seen tens of thousands of grown adults simultaneously touching their hands above their heads and swinging their fins to the left, fins to the right? No? Well, then you haven’t been to a Buffet concert. Being silly and participating with total abandon are two things Parrot Heads excel at. Give it a try on your next vacation and you just might make some new friends or be a part of some really fun and unexpected new experiences.

Flickr CC: Sam Howzit

6. Lei one on at a tailgate party

The party for Parrot Heads starts in the parking lot, with decked-out party tents and truck beds filled with water and edged with grass skirts. Expect to find full tiki bars set up, shark-shaped golf carts and thousands of Parrot Heads roaming with inner tubes around their waists and festooned with dozens of leis. No tailgate around? You can still vacation like a Parrot Head. Just set up a similar compound on the beach. Parrot Heads will soon find you, drawn like moths to a flame to your tiki torch. What this translates to for your next vacation is, find your people. No matter what your destination or interests are (cooking, history, soccer, gaming, yoga, whatever), do a little research ahead of time to connect with like-minded locals.

7. Pack an extra shaker of salt

Who would have thought a song about sponge cake, sunburned tourists and boiling shrimp would end up on the song list for the 2016 Grammy Hall of Fame? “Margaritaville” has a lively tune, often belted at the top of their lungs by inebriated Parrot Heads. But it’s a sad song, really. Not only did his flip-flop break, he lost his shaker of salt, which every Parrot Head needs to rim his Margarita glass. This is just a metaphor for being prepared. Don’t suffer the same fate as poor Jimmy. Pack an extra of that thing you know you might lose on your trip—an extra phone charger, sunglasses, swim trunks, you name it.

8. Feast and imbibe like a Parrot Head

At the bottom of the Parrot Head food pyramid are of course margaritas and cheeseburgers. These food choices come courtesy of two of Buffet’s most popular tunes, odes to the “frozen concoction that helps me hang on,” and “that American creation on which I feed!” Other food and drinks mentioned in Jimmy Buffet songs include the Hurricane, gumbo, peanut butter, mango, fruitcake, dill pickles, Dreamsicles and Champagne. Beer drinkers sip on frosty bottles of Landshark Lager made by Margaritaville Brewing Co. The takeaway here? Calories don’t count on vacation. Live a little!

9. Laugh so you don’t go insane

This just might be the most important rule of all because sometimes travel presents you with unexpected challenges—a canceled flight, a bout of rain, a little Montezuma’s revenge. This is not the time to curl up on your hotel room floor and call it quits. Instead, take a cue from Jimmy’s “Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes.” This is the time you look for a chum with a bottle of rum and make the most of it, laugh in the face of adversity and move on. The beach will still be there in the morning.

Stay in a colorful nest: A list of top Parrot Head hotels

Sashaying into the lobby in your flamingo-festooned straw hat and grass skirt should never feel awkward. If you’re following Jimmy on the road, or just want to spend your vacation with other Parrot Heads, these resorts welcome the lifestyle with open arms.

Fort Lauderdale, FL: Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort
Like the restaurant, Margaritaville hotels were tailor-made for relaxed sun-seekers.

Miami, FL: Circa 39
Get an instant change in attitude with the brightly colored décor and rum drinks like the Rumaway Bride at WunderBar at this Miami gem.

Montego Bay, Jamaica: Altamont West
The exterior and lobby are painted in parrot shades, of yellow, green and red.

Holetown, Barbados: Coral Reef Club
In addition to its name, so similar to Jimmy’s Coral Reefer Band, Parrot Heads will love this hotel for its laid-back luxury.

Key West, FL: NYAH
This affordable, quirky adults-only property charges by the room, not the person, encouraging Parrot Heads to nest together.

Key West FL: Casa Marina
The Parrot Head Mecca, this hotel hosts the annual conference for Parrot Heads, Meeting of the Minds.

 
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Tagged: Caribbean, Destinations, Events, Florida, Music

Jan Schroder

Jan Schroder

An award-winner writer based in Atlanta, Jan is also an editor, book author, publisher of Girl on the Go and a really pathetic packer for a travel writer. She is also editorial director of The 100 Companies, a publishing platform with 100-word stories and 100-second videos.
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It’s shaping up to the be the summer of Katy Perry. Her new album, Witness, is out June 9 and tickets for autumn’s Witness: The Tour, just went on sale. (You can score great seats right here.)

Perry was born and raised in Santa Barbara and in honor of this quintessential “California gurl’s” pop culture moment, we decided to comb through her catchiest lyrics and come up with a list of Perry-inspired things to do in the Golden State. If you’re wondering where you can live just like Perry, this is the list for you.

RELATED: The California beach road trip you’ve always dreamed about

Flickr CC: Eric May

1. Lyric: “So put your rose-colored glasses on/and party on”
Song: Chained to the Rhythm

The video for Perry’s smash ode to happily living in a bubble takes place in an amusement park, and if you’re going to spend a day wearing (figuratively speaking, at least) rose-colored glasses, there’s no better spot than the happiest place on Earth: Disneyland. We much prefer the OC amusement park (and corresponding Disney’s California Adventure) to Six Flags Magic Mountain where Perry filmed the video for Chained. The thrill rides there pale in comparison to Disney’s escapist fantasies like It’s a Small World and Pirates of the Caribbean.

2. Lyric: I kissed a girl and I liked it…
Song: I Kissed a Girl

When it comes to lady-on-lady smooching in the City of Angeles, you should head to Akbar, a queer taproom and dance club tucked away in the arty Silver Lake neighborhood. The bar skews higher on the boy side (think a 70/30 ratio), but you’ll find plenty of canoodling ladies on busy weekend nights. Elsewhere in Los Angeles, hit up alterna-strip club Jumbo’s Clown Room where the dancing ladies will pay you plenty of attention, regardless of who you like to kiss.

Venice Beach, California, beach

Venice Beach, CA | Flickr photo by JD Lasica

3. Lyric: “Daisy dukes/bikinis on top…we’ll melt your popsicle”
Song: California Gurls
This song was practically written for the Venice Beach crowd. The L.A. beachfront neighborhood features a two-and-a-half mile pedestrian-only promenade filled with kooky performers, psychics, artists and other kinds of vendors. And yes, you’ll definitely see plenty of California girls in their Daisy dukes and bikini tops as you stroll along the sun-drenched boardwalk.

Santa Barbara

4. Lyric: “Santa Barbara, chique, at La Super Rica, grabbing tacos, checking out hotties”
Song: This Is How We Do
You don’t need to be a detective to decipher this lyric from Perry’s 2013 hit. The singer gives a shout out to her hometown of Santa Barbara, and once explained (via a tweet) that it’s also inspired by her OG crew and their parties. And there’s even a reference to her favorite taqueria: La Super Rica. The Santa Barbara hot spot is known for its fish tacos, tamales and, yes, good-looking crowd. Fun fact: This restaurant was also a favorite of famed chef Julia Child, but it’s unknown whether or not Child checked out the hotties.

ALSO: “Witness” big savings when you sign up for CheapCash!

5. Lyric: “So Let me get you in your birthday suit/it’s time to bring out the big balloons”
Song: Birthday

Spending time in your birthday suit isn’t a big deal when you visit Just Float in Pasadena. The sensory deprivation spa—the world’s largest float therapy center—is where guests strip down and zone out while floating in a dark, salt water tank. The 60-minute session encourages relaxation in a way that helps recharge mind and body. In Birthday, Perry promises to have us spinning like a disco ball. And floating can sometimes have the same effect—in a good way, of course.

Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles

Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles

6. Lyric: “Boy, you’re an alien/your touch, so foreign/it’s supernatural/extraterrestrial”
Song: E.T.
If you’re looking for an out of this world experience, San Diego’s Air & Space Museum is the place to go. You won’t see (and hypothetically fall in love with) any aliens, but the museum does feature an area devoted to spacecrafts including a display of the Apollo 9—which is one of only two Apollo Command Modules flown in space that’s on display west of the Rocky Mountains. And, of course, in Los Angeles, there’s the Griffith Observatory, when you can not only check amazing views of the city, but also see the stars through state-of-the-art telescopes.

Golden State Warriors, basketball, California

Golden State Warriors | Flickr photo by Keith Allison

7. Lyric: “I am the champion, and you’re gonna to hear me roar”
Song: Roar

If you’re in the mood to see some champions, head up north and check out a Golden State Warriors game. The San Francisco basketball team was the 2015 NBA champs, and recently won the NBA Conference Finals against the San Antonio Spurs. It’s so much easier to root for the home team when they’re actual winners.

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Tagged: California, Destinations

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Imagine yourself pedaling a beach cruiser or a bicycle-built-for-two, a gentle breeze blowing through the air, stopping only for ice cream, epic views and dazzling sunsets over the water.

Perhaps you’ve been here before. If so, you know that it’s bliss on two wheels. In these moments, as all your senses are heightened, it’s not so much about getting somewhere as it is about enjoying the journey

A bike ride fosters a unique intimacy with a destination, and it can be a particularly magical experience along a beach, whether it’s cruising a bustling boardwalk or winding through a natural landscape. Here are a few beachy spots to help foster biking bliss.

RELATED: These are America’s most bike-friendly towns

MIAMI, FL


Deco bikes roll up and down the Miami Beach Boardwalk, intermingling with the beautiful people that make this oceanfront metropolis so glamorous. Enjoy this quintessential Miami Beach experience (which is only allowed south of 21st street) in the early morning or at sunset. Be sure to include a journey to South Point Park for 360-degree views of the ocean. The Marriott Stanton South Beach, right on Ocean Drive, offers its adorable beach cruisers—decorated in pale yellow with bright teal wheels—to guests free of charge. The Confidante – in the Unbound Collection by Hyatt, in Miami Beach’s buzzworthy Mid-Beach neighborhood offers complimentary beach cruisers for local exploration, too.

MACKINAC ISLAND, MI

No cars are allowed on this island in northern Michigan, giving this sweet island setting, where fudge shops and Victorian architecture rule, a tempo more befitting of the 19th century. It also makes bicycles an integral part of the experience. Cruise the 8-mile lakefront path that circles the island; it’s Michigan’s only state highway that’s automobile-free, with dazzling views over Lake Huron. Bicycle Street Inn and Suites, as its name suggests, has a fleet of bicycles available for guest rental.

SANTA MONICA, CA

The 26-mile bike bath that runs alongside the Pacific Ocean is a colorful kaleidoscope of California eye candy, taking you through Venice, where you can ogle bodybuilders at “Muscle Beach” and street performers from oceanfront cafes, and Marina del Rey, where you can marvel at massive yachts in the water. A journey along this path is on one of the most popular things to do in Santa Monica. The Bayside Hotel offers bright-red beach cruises for guests to rent.

HILTON HEAD, SC

Hilton Head Island’s 12 miles of hard-packed beach are totally, completely bike-able during low tide. The family-friendly Westin Hilton Head Island Resort & Spa offers bike rentals onsite for those eager to explore this, and the island’s network of biking paths.

ALSO: Ride on! CheapCash is instant when you book a flight on CheapTickets!

CHICAGO, IL

Chicago’s Lakefront Trail is glorious in summer, and a consistent surprise to visitors who don’t associate Chicago with beachfront bustle. The 18-mile path hugs Lake Michigan, winding through beaches, parks and the city’s museum campus. Hotel Lincoln, in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, is convenient to the path and offers guests free bike rentals.

JEKYLL ISLAND, GEORGIA

Explore this laid-back setting on two wheels. It boasts more than 20 miles of paved biking trails that wind through beaches, sand dunes, riverfront, historic sites and forests shaded by ancient oaks. Be sure to pedal your way to the Georgie Sea Turtle Center, where you can witness the rehabilitation of these sea animals in action. The Westin Jekyll Island, situated right on the beach and convenient to paths, has a bike rental facility right next door.

SAN DIEGO, CA

San Diego is blessed with year-round weather perfect for bike rides. Explore the network of paths and bike lanes that traverse the Point Loma Peninsula, which boasts breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay. It’s an adventure that can take you to Sunset Cliffs, Ocean Beach, Mission Bay Park and all the way to Cabrillo National Monument, with its historical sites, whale watching opportunities and tidal pools. The Pearl Hotel is a great springboard to it all. Bonus: It also offers free use of bikes to guests.

THE HAMPTONS, NEW YORK

Forget using your car here, where parking goes quickly and will set you pack a pretty penny. Opt for a leisurely bike ride along the beach, perhaps even cycling up to picturesque Montauk Point (if you’re feeling ambitious). The Maidstone in East Hampton offers guests complimentary use of red cruisers with baskets—ideal for stowing that towel, water and guilty pleasure beach read.

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Tagged: Beach, California, Chicago, Family, Florida, New York City, Sports

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Swimming pool + cocktail + you = Vegas paradise, right? Well, almost. While the daytime pool scene in Las Vegas has become a major spring and summer draw to the city in recent years, not all resort pools are the same. From DJ-driven scenes that easily attract crowds well into the thousands to cozy rooftop hideaways where the biggest thrill is whichever book you downloaded on your Kindle, here are the 10 best Las Vegas pools based on your personality type.

RELATED: 11 best Vegas casinos where the locals hang out

Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, gambling, pool

The aquatic playground at Mandalay Bay | Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts

The beach bum: The aquatic playground at Mandalay Bay
For you, the antiseptic swimming pool just doesn’t cut it. True paradise in your opinion includes the constant rhythm of crashing waves and the squish of hot sand between your toes. Well, if there’s one thing a desert has in abundance, it’s sand and Mandalay Bay has dragged in 2,700 tons of it to recreate an oceanfront vibe, complimented by a 1.6 million gallon wave pool. Ditch the lounge chair and slap your towel right down on the ground or rent your own cabana—they’ve got 100 in total! After a few minutes on their beach your opinion of the actual ocean might just be: What’s the point?

Las Vegas, pool, Bare, Mirage

Bare at the Mirage | Photo courtesy of Hakkasan Group

The exhibitionist: Bare Pool Lounge at the Mirage
That trip to the French Riviera left quite the lasting impression and these days, your idea of the perfect swimsuit is a one piece—as in just the bottom half. Enter Bare Pool Lounge at the Mirage, an adults-only escape where you can toss the bikini top aside. Shaded by palm trees (perfect for keeping the gawkers at bay) and intimate by Vegas standards, this 14,000-square-foot oasis is home to two dipping pools (we love the above ground one) and a minimum number of cabanas and daybeds. Word to the wise: Arrive early.

Las Vegas, gambling, hotels, pool

Citrus Pool Deck at the Downtown Grand | Photo by Jason Heidemann

The insider: Citrus at the Downtown Grand
You live in Sin City or know it like the back of your hand and hate that it’s overrun with bachelorettes and the bros who love them. No problem. One of the most unpretentious pool scenes in town happens daily at the Citrus Grand Pool Deck off Fremont Street. A true locals’ hangout (admission to this downtown gem is free, but lounge chairs go very fast), the Grand‘s rooftop pool is downtown’s largest and an oasis of urban calm, including chill mid-century decor and cocktails and snacks crafted in part with garden fresh ingredients grown poolside (whaaat?!). Bonus: The music here won’t rupture an eardrum. In short, it’s heavenly.

NightSwim, XS, Wynn, pool, Las Vegas, gambling

NightSwim at XS | Photo by Danny Mahoney

The night owl: Night Swim at the Wynn
Your Vegas motto is “go hard or go home” to the point where you don’t even get out of bed until 3pm (your porcelain skin withers under even the faintest ray of desert sun anyway). Enter the nighttime pool party. At the Wynn that means both extending its Encore Beach Club into Friday and Saturday night while moving its massively popular XS Nightclub poolside every Sunday evening. Picture lavish stage shows, pyrotechnic displays, marquee names (Skrillex, Diplo and Chainsmokers, etc.) and a sea of soaking wet millennials on the make. Is it relaxing? Not at all. Is it fun? Hell, yeah.

Temptation Sundays, Luxor, pool, Las Vegas, gambling

Temptation Sundays | Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts

The gay guy: Temptation Sundays at Luxor
Yo, gay dude, we’re guessing you’re pretty disappointed that a city made up largely of glitter and sequins is actually depressingly straight. Despite its hetero bent, the sun shines gaily at long-running Temptation Sundays, a smorgasbord of hard bodies in Speedos that takes over the sprawling Oasis Pool at the Luxor every Sabbath. Unlike most pool parties in Vegas, this one gets going late (duh), but rest assured come 3pm the boys and booze are out in full force. All genders and gender expressions are welcome, of course, but we’re not going to lie—it’s pretty much man soup out there.

ALSO: Is that chlorine in your eye or are you just emotional about all the CheapCash you could earn? Here’s how.

Flamingo, Las Vegas, Hotel, Gambling, Pool

Beach Club Pool at the Flamingo | Photo courtesy of Caesars Entertainment

The family guy: Beach Club Pool at the Flamingo
In a city of extremes, is there a happy medium to please both parents and children alike? The answer might be the Beach Club Pool at the Flamingo. Looking for water slides? The Flamingo boasts a trio of them. Looking for exotic animals? The outdoor Wildlife Habitat is close by and boasts koi fish, turtles, swans, pelicans and Chilean flamingos (including two twice daily feedings). Looking to keep an eye on your kid at all times? Relax, the pool is perfectly sized that you’ll never lose sight. As for adult pleasures, there is always a cocktail server close at hand.

Rehab, Hard Rock Hotel, pool, las vegas, gambling

Rehab | Photo courtesy of Hard Rock Hotel and Casino

The spring breaker: Rehab Beach Club at the Hard Rock Casino
Millennial tomfoolery is the foundation upon which the Vegas pool party was built, so if it’s Cancun-style antics you seek, this town was practically made for you. Of all the parties where you can unchain your inner party monster, Rehab at the Hard Rock is famous as the originator of the Vegas pool party. DJ blasting loud music? Check. Exclusive cabanas? Check. Outrageous drinks? Ridiculous contests? Bikini invitationals? Check, check and check. Best of all, Rehab opens earlier in the season than some other Vegas pools for its month-long Rehab Spring Break beginning late March. Let the drunk times begin.

Wet Republic, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, gambling, pool

Wet Republic at MGM Grand | Photo by Imagery Powers

The EDM fanatic: Wet Republic Ultra Pool at MGM Grand
You’re not in Vegas for the gambling and you’ve done the Cirque thing. But being the EDM fan that you are, you wouldn’t dare miss nights at mega-club Hakkasan and days spent poolside at Wet Republic. Many a pool scene boasts DJs du jour, but this 54,000-square-foot playground is full of thrills that surprise even a seasoned dance music fanatic like yourself. Top  talent in 2017 includes Steve Aoki, Tiësto, DJ Shift, Zedd and others. Oh, there’s also six VIP dipping pools, VIP cabanas and daybeds galore, and an open-air lounge stretching a quarter the length of a football field.

Vdara Pool and Lounge, Las Vegas, pool, gambling

Vdara Pool & Lounge | Photo courtesy of MGM Resorts

The Gen Xer: Pool & Lounge at Vdara
You wear the proper amount of sunscreen, you prefer a good book over booking it to the bar and turning 35 ranked as one of your best birthdays ever. You love your adult life and require just the right scene to go with it. Enter the Pool & Lounge at Vdara, a sun-kissed terrace oasis and attitude-free zone where the servers are friendly, the pastel color scheme calming and the music kept at a respectable enough decibel that you can actually hear the sound of the pages turning in that great book you’re reading. They say Vegas is fun for about 48 hours, but you could lay by this pool forever.

Las Vegas, pool, gambling, Strip, Cosmopolitan

Dive in Movies at the Boulevard Pool at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas | Photo courtesy of the Cosmopolitan

The Cinephile: Dive In Movies at the Cosmopolitan
You love the movies, but are dying to enjoy them in the sartorial comfort of your trunks or a bikini. We got you, boo. Every Monday at 7:30pm during summer, the outrageously hip Cosmopolitan screens a Hollywood flick (think Jaws, Dirty Dancing, Clueless and, duh, Casino) from the cozy comfort of its elevated Boulevard Pool while the lights of the Las Vegas Strip glow in the background. Best of all, the screenings are free for guests and a mere five bucks for the rest of us. Entry’s first come first served, so there’s no VIP nonsense. And if the film gets too scary, just dunk under water.

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Tagged: Las Vegas