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Celebrate Leap Day literally this year. Or, if you’re an adrenaline junkie and can’t wait the whole four years to get your fix, indulge yourself in these death-defying leaps any old time. Enjoy the ride.

Fox Glacier

Fox Glacier, New Zealand. Photo: Flying Kiwi Tours – Flickr.

Skydive into Middle Earth. The eight-mile long Fox Glacier near the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island is consistently ranked as one of the best places in the world to jump out of a plane. Divers get views of the coastline along the Tasman Sea and the snow-topped peaks of the Southern Alps.

Cape Town

Paragliding in Cape Town, South Africa. Photo: leyla.a – Flickr

Paraglide in Cape Town, South Africa. Nearby and appropriately named Table Mountain offers a great take-off point. Gliders are treated with views of land and sea, city and mountains.

 

Verzasca Dam

Bungee jumping off the Verzasca Dam in Switzerland. Photo: Tambako the Jaguar – Flickr

Bungee jump off the Verzasca Dam in Switzerland. Pierce Brosnan did it in Goldeneye, so what’s stopping you? At 720 feet, it’s the country’s fourth tallest dam. It’s so huge that the first time they filled the reservoir, the massive water load caused earthquakes.

 

Key West, Florida.

Key West, Florida. Photo: James Willamor – Flickr

Go parasailing in Key West, Florida. Enjoy sweeping beach, island and ocean views while you glide. Just make sure you aren’t too weighed down by all thatdelicious Key Lime Pie. Pro tip: Rates are lower in the morning.

 

Ziplining

Ziplining in Costa Rica. Photo: David Berkowitz – Flickr.

Zipline through the rainforest in Costa Rica, and keep your eyes peeled for monkeys. There are plenty of options for tours, depending on where you are visiting. Try Titi Canopy Tour near Manuel Antonio or Miss Sky near Nosara. Rumor has it Miss Sky is building a tree-top disco at the last stop on its tour.

Stratosphere Hotel

Sky jumping off the Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. Photo: Curtis & Renee – Flickr.

Sky jump from the 108th floor of the Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. They call this a “controlled fall,” and some of the more hardcore adrenaline junkies said this doesn’t bring quite the rush of a true free fall. Either way, it’s still pretty cool to look down on Sin City.

Tagged: Beach, Florida, Hawaii, Holidays, Las Vegas

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If your dream of a white Christmas includes white sand beaches, then you can still get into the holiday spirit. Opt for one of these tropical destinations that offer all of the cheer with none of the cold.

CheapTickets-Key-West-Florida-boat-parade

‘Twas the “Bight Before Christmas” in Key West, Florida. Photo courtesy of Florida Keys News Bureau.

Key West, Florida: The nation’s southernmost city always marches to the beat of its own drummer boy, and the holidays are no exception. Cruise around the island on a bicycle for a close-up view of the light-strewn palm trees and decked-out historic cottages, or hop on the Holly Jolly Holiday Trolley Tour. The highlight of the season is the Schooner Wharf Bar & Galley Lighted Boat Parade, a festive flotilla of decked-out boats and live music. Then stick around for New Year’s Eve to watch the giant conch shell drop at midnight, ushering in 2016 with thousands of other sun-kissed revelers.

Christmas in the Magic Kingdom

Christmas in the Magic Kingdom | Flickr CC: Sam Howzit

Orlando, Florida: Combine the wonder of the holiday season with the magic of Disney, and we dare you not to smile. From Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in Magic Kingdom to the daily Macy’s Holiday Parade at Universal Studios Florida to the Christmas Bricktacular at LEGOLAND Florida, each theme park ticket comes with an extra dose of magic for the holidays. If you don’t want to shell out money for theme park admission, then seek out free fun like photo ops at the decked-out Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) or the annual Florida Citrus Bowl Parade. Then head to about 65 miles east to Cocoa Beach to catch the Surfing Santas.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii | Flickr CC: Daniel Ramirez

Honolulu, Hawaii: If you’re on the West Coast, then investing in airfare to Hawaii can be a good move. There are plenty of free and cheap holiday amusements, including the Honolulu City Lights, a monthlong festival that includes decorations, live entertainment and family-friendly activities. Also be sure to greet Santa as he paddles onto the island by canoe at Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort. Arrive on the beach early to stake out a good spot, then stick around for photos with the big guyin the hotel’s lobby.

Cheap Tickets-Tropical Christmas-San Juan Puerto Rico-shutterstock

San Juan, Puerto Rico: Swap your eggnog for coquito, a coconut-and-rum concoction that’s a staple on Puerto Rican tables during the holidays. The best ways to celebrate are free, like walking the cobblestone streets to check out the glittering displays against the backdrop of Old San Juan’s colonial architecture that would put your neighbors’ Christmas lights to shame. Hang around long enough and you’ll encounter another free tradition: the parranda. This moveable fiesta is like a caroling party that grows with each passerby.

Catedral de San Miguel de Allende

Catedral de San Miguel de Allende | Flickr CC: Agustin Polanco

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico: The festivities get going in mid-December with the Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe, highlighted by a children’s parade featuring a young girl dressed as the holy icon. The season rolls on with Las Posadas, a series of roving reenactments of Mary and Joseph’s journey through Bethlehem. But the most important night for Mexican Catholics is Christmas Eve, a.k.a. Noche Buena, when a manger is set up in the center of El Jardin, the town’s main square, complete with live animals.

Cheap Tickets-Tropical Christmas-Barbados-shutterstock

BarbadosSpice up the season with a visit to this laid-back Caribbean island, whose capital city of Bridgetown is decked out in red and green lights. Enjoy a feast of traditional dishes like pigeon pea-based jug jug and great cake, the island’s answer to fruit cake. Also take a day trip to the Barbados Wildlife Reserve, where you can observe tortoises, monkeys and colorful birds that you definitely won’t find up North this time of year.

Cheap Tickets-Tropical Christmas-Cayman Islands-Camana Bay

Cayman Islands

Instead of cozying up to watch your favorite holiday movie under a blanket, every Tuesday in December you can watch a Christmas under the stars in Camana Bay, which is decorated for the season. Explore all the decorations on the Christmas Bus Tour of Lights, which includes a visit to a Mission House and a traditional island holiday feast. Save room for cassava cake, then be sure to wait two hours before you dive into that turquoise water.

Tagged: Beach, Family, Florida, FREE!, Holidays, Mexico, Off-season, Seasonal

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With approximately 800 miles of beaches, Florida offers plenty of free fun in the sun. But when you’ve gotten your fill of vitamins D and “sea,” consider these other amusements that don’t cost a dime.

SummerJazz on the Gulf via Pat Shapiro

SummerJazz on the Gulf via Pat Shapiro

Catch a free concert: Year-round warm weather means perennial outdoor concert season, so pack a picnic basket and a blanket. Options range from the Florida Orchestra’s Pops in the Park concerts in St. Petersburg and Tampa, to the SummerJazz on the Gulf series in Naples, to Springing the Blues in Jacksonville. In South Florida, free is chic, as with the New World Symphony Wallcast concerts projected onto a 7,000-square-foot wall in Miami Beach SoundScape. Sounds like music to our ears.

Southermost Point via nathanmac87 at Flickr Creative Commons

Southermost Point via nathanmac87 at Flickr Creative Commons

Get the picture: The best souvenirs also happen to be the cheapest: photographs. Florida is home to some prime photo ops, so grab that selfie stick and start making your Facebook friends jealous. Begin your shutterfest in St. Augustine, where you can catch the free ferry to Fort Matanzas National Monument in all its 16th-century glory. Then make your way down to Sarasota‘s Ringling Museum of Art on a Monday for free admission to its gorgeous estate. And finish up in Key West with a quintessential photo at the Southernmost Point buoy marking 90 miles to Cuba.

Loxahatchee Slough Natural Area stretch of the Florida Trail via Winnie Lo

Loxahatchee Slough Natural Area stretch of the Florida Trail via Winnie Lo

Take a hike: Keep that camera handy for a jaunt along the Florida National Scenic Trail. The 1,300-mile path stretches from the Everglades all the way up to historic Fort Pickens. Some parts of the trail are more developed than others, but plenty are suitable for hikers of all ages and fitness levels looking to get up close and personal with the Sunshine State’s flora and fauna.

Wynwood Walls via Phillip Pessar at Flickr Creative Commons

Wynwood Walls via Phillip Pessar at Flickr Creative Commons

State of the art: Warm weather is perfect for evening art walks, where you can gallery-hop and sometimes enjoy free wine and entertainment. If you’re in Miami, definitely head to Wynwood – a trendy neighborhood with a concentration of vibrant, larger-than-life murals. If you happen to be there on a Tuesday evening, stop by Wood Tavern for two free tacos — no catch.

Gulf of Mexico via Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater

Gulf of Mexico via Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater

Celebrate the sun: Floridians take our sunsets quite seriously. Whether we’re sitting on a beach, out for an evening stroll or even just stuck in traffic, we take a moment to appreciate the ever-changing cotton candy skies. There are even formal events to mark the end of the day. Two of the best-known take place at Mallory Square in Key West and Pier 60 in Clearwater Beach. Both events feature live entertainment, vendors and a family-friendly atmosphere against the backdrop of the setting sun.

Story by Dalia Colon

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Tagged: Beach, Cheap Tips, City, Family, Florida, Food & drink, FREE!, Music, Seasonal