15 Great Places to Travel this Winter

With the weather raging this winter, a lot of people are probably looking for a chance to get out and go somewhere else.  And who can blame them?  Luckily, there are lots of places where you can get away from the weather.  I recently came across an article with some of the best vacations that you can take this winter, whether you’re looking for some good skiing or something warmer.

Nelson Lewis Kauai

1. Kauai, Hawaii: Although the winter usually means a lot of tourists and inflated room rates, once you see the golden beaches and gorgeous scenery, you’ll understand that the cost is 110% worth it.  The island even offers hiking on the Na Pali Coast which, although difficult, offers glorious views.

Nelson Lewis St Maarten

2. St. Martin/St. Maarten: This Caribbean island, split between the Dutch and the French, offers the unique experience of two cultures for the price of one.  The French side offers some great duty-free shopping and fine dining, while the Dutch side of the island hosts lively clubs, bars and casinos.  And no matter what side of the island you’re on, the island’s white-sand beaches are gorgeous.

Nelson Lewis Playa del Carmen

3. Playa del Carmen, Mexico: Here, the atmosphere is laid-back, the drinks are strong and there’s no shortage of golf courses.  However, you’ll need to make sure that the price is right before booking, as winter tourists can cause hotel rates to dramatically fluctuate.

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 2.08.34 PM

4. Queenstown, New Zealand: In New Zealand, this is currently the height of the winter season.  This scenic town offers plenty of shops and cafes, as well as intense adrenaline-pumping activities to keep any thrill-seeker occupied for a long time.

Nelson Lewis Puerto Rico

5. Puerto Rico: Here, you can enjoy the perks of the Caribbean without even needing a passport.  Attractions here range from adventurous to historic to simply relaxing on the beach.

Nelson Lewis Costa Rica

6. Costa Rica: December is the start of this country’s dry season, leaving only 70-degree temperatures to accompany you on your hike through the country’s rainforest.  If you visit in January, you’ll find the country basking in the “pura vida” while celebrating during fiesta time.

Nelson Lewis Key West

7. Key West, Florida: This makes an ideal winter getaway for anybody seeking warm weather, frozen daiquiris and chill afternoons.  Snorkeling and scuba are both huge here, and you can always hit the scenic bike trails.

Nelson Lewis Lake Tahoe

8. Lake Tahoe, Nevada: No matter the season, this is a beautiful place, so bringing a camera to capture the scenery is a must.  After you’re done skiing, you can check out the area’s exceptional dining and nightlife venues.

Nelson Lewis Bora Bora

9. Bora Bora: When you live in a part of the country regularly freezing at this time of the year, Bora Bora, with its scenic bungalows and beaches, could very well be your dream come true.  However, this paradise isn’t cheap, and you could just as easily come face-to-face with rain and mosquitoes as tropical weather.

Nelson Lewis Miami Beach

10. Miami Beach, Florida: With warm temperatures, a lively nightlife and plenty of cool hotels, Miami lives up to the hype behind it.  You can spend your day chilling at the beach or shopping at Lincoln Road Mall, and then go out clubbing all night.

Nelson Lewis Tulum

11. Tulum, Mexico: Even though this is a fairly tiny pocket of the Yucatán, Tulum nonetheless offers plenty of activity.  Not only can you visit the Mayan ruins, but you can also snorkel through the cenotes area or schedule a massage.

Nelson Lewis Whistler

12. Whistler, British Columbia: At this ski mountain 125 miles north of Vancouver, this is prime ski season.  Whistler Mountain is any skier’s dream come true, with over 8,100 acres and 200 trails.  Even if you’re not a skier, you can always hit the buzzing after-ski scene.  Just make sure that you book in advance.

Nelson Lewis Innsbruck

13. Innsbruck, Austria: In the winter, Innsbruck attracts skiers from around the world, all of them eager to try out SkiWorld, a network of nine ski resorts located around the town.  When you’re not on the slopes, the charming town has plenty to offer, as well as holiday shopping at the local Christmas market along Maria-Theresien-Strasse.

Nelson Lewis Aspen

14. Aspen, Colorado: Aspen is a paradise for winter sports.  Here, there are four main ski areas, which welcome ski fans of all skill levels, but you’ll also find yourself no shortage of interesting museums and high-end shopping.

Nelson Lewis Telluride

15. Telluride, Colorado: This fun, funky town draws thousands of visitors every year due to its array of great ski slopes.  You can spend your days running down mountains and nights warming up with a drink.  To ensure that you get the best rates, however, you need to make your travel plans several months in advance.

Celebrating D-Day

Beaches of Normandy

The quiet and scenic beaches of Normandy, which some 70 years earlier were the site of one of the most important battles of World War II.

Tomorrow is an historic day, as it marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, when the US-led Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy.  This was the start of an invasion that helped bring down Nazi Germany.  While you might have heard about it from older family members, in history class, “Saving Private Ryan” or “Band of Brothers”, but it takes a good visual prompt so you can begin to understand what happened on that fateful day.  I recently came across an article that discusses some ways for Americans can celebrate and honor this important and historic day, where so many American soldiers fought and died to protect the free world.

In France, the Basse-Normandie Region will be hosting an official 70th anniversary series of events and ceremonies, which include such activities as parachute drops, a walk that retraces the steps of soldiers, fireworks displays, a screening of the Tom Brokaw-narrated IMAX film “D-Day Normandy 1944”, wreath-laying ceremonies and a sound and light show.  Over the course of the year, hundreds of other events shall be occurring throughout Basse-Normandie.  If you would like to visit the area with a guide, plenty of companies are offering D-Day tours throughout the year.  You can choose an historic tour, or maybe something like a hiking or biking trip to see the beaches and countryside of Normandy.

Stephen Ambrose, who wrote “Band of Brothers” and founded the National D-Day Museum, started his own tour company that offers trips to all of the places he wrote about.  In September, history buffs can partake in Ambrose’s personally-designed “D-Day to the Rhine” tour, based on thorough research and hundreds of interviews with World War II veterans, while accompanied by a war veteran.  Historic Hotels of America has partnered with National Trust Tours for a series of tours, such as a September D-Day tour.  Led by a World War II historian, you’ll be taken to the less-visited landmarks associated with the invasion, such as the house where Eisenhower decided to carry out the invasion, Churchill’s Cabinet war rooms and a chateau where the BBC broadcast its reports.

Various different travel companies, such as Ciclismo Classico, Discover France and Wilderness Travel all offer fantastic options for those who want to get in a little workout while learning about the history of the area.  On Ciclismo Classico’s Normandy bike tour and Discover France’s “Brittany to Normandy” bike tour, you can pedal through the beautiful hills and coast of the Norman countryside.  Both tours also include stops at key D-Day sites and memorials, and offer plenty of delicious French food.  Wilderness Travel does hiking tours of Normandy and Brittany, pairing you with an historian as you walk the high cliffs of Normandy, which are still pockmarked with shell holes and German bunkers.  Travelers spend a day exploring historic areas, such as the rows of crosses and clifftop lawns at the American cemetery at Colleville-Sur-Mer.  While D-Day is the primary focus of this tour, it also focuses on food and the general region of the history, which dates back some 6,000 years.

However, these aren’t the only options.  You can also see the region by boat with Tauck through two different river cruises, “Rendezvous on the Seine” and “Cruising the Seine Plus Versailles, Paris & London”.  Both cruises will visit the D-Day beaches in Normandy and the American Cemetery and Memorial at Colleville-sur-Mer, as well as stops in other French hotspots as Paris, Rouen and Giverny.  Other special D-Day Normandy tours throughout the year include “Memorials of War: Normandy & Paris” and “World War I and World War II Battlefields”.  Les Manoirs Hotel in Tourgéville, located near the Normandy beaches, has a special package for two.  The quaint, 57-room hotel offers three nights accommodations, two dinners at its on-site 1899 restaurant, a private tour guide of the D-Day beaches and American war cemetery, admission to the D-Day museum and two spa treatments.

If a trip to France is out of your budget, that’s totally fine, since there are endless ways to celebrate in America.  At the Warbird Air Museum at the Valiant Air Command in Titusville, FL, you can climb on board and fly on the “TiCo Belle”, which was not only at the D-Day invasion, but also participated in other historic events, such as the Berlin Airlift.  Flights are available on the third Saturday of every month.  The National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA is hosting a series of events tomorrow, such as a wreath-laying ceremony by D-Day units, a parade, a USO Show, a parachute jump and a flyover by a P-51 and C-47.  At the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX 3D in Chattanooga, you can see the “D-Day Normandy 1944” movie, in addition to military displays and rare artifacts used during the invasion.  Over 25 different IMAX theaters, ranging from Maine to Washington State, will also be screening the movie.