17 Summer Vacations Everyone Should Take Before They’re 50
Let’s face it, you’re still plenty young, hale, and hearty. So dive into these exciting destinations before you turn the big 5-0.
Climb Machu Picchu
Perched high in the Andes Mountains of Peru, this Incan citadel is one of the new seven wonders of the world. The driest season—and the best time to visit—happens to be summer. Fly into the city of Cusco a few days early to acclimate and enjoy the local cuisine. For a comfortable stay that’s convenient to landmarks and restaurants, try the JW Marriott Cusco. Then take the Inca Rail to Machu Picchu. If your budget allows, upgrade to their first class ticket, which includes a full brunch with champagne! Once you’re in Machu Picchu, stay at Sumaq, a home-away-from-home after your strenuous hike. Note: Book your site tickets ahead of time, especially if you want to take the longer route—Huayna Picchu—which offers better vantage points.
Take the Kids to Disney World
Disney offers plenty of ways to scoot around the summer traffic and still enjoy the splendour. You can buy the FastPass to skip lines and pre-book rides that have long waits. Make sure you stay at one of the Disney Resort properties, according to Disney travel expert Greg Antonelle, who says the amenities make it worthwhile: free transport to the parks, surprises in your hotel room, and much more.
Witness Wildlife at Kruger National Park
Of all the reserves in the world, Kruger National Park in South Africa may be the most notable and accessible. Depending on your budget and the type of vacation you’re seeking, you can either camp at the park or upgrade your experience to a luxury safari lodge. In Greater Kruger, check out the Royal Malewane, where each suite features an indoor and outdoor shower and a private pool from which you might spot elephants, buffalos, lions, hyenas, and more.
Ride Bikes Through Amsterdam
You’ll enjoy getting lost in the narrow 17th-century streets. For history-lovers, Anne Frank House and the Van Gogh Museum are must-sees. Rent a bike for the duration of your stay—it’s the preferred method of travel in this exciting town. Consider staying at The Pulitzer Amsterdam, a former 17th-century canal home. It’s a three-minute walk from a tram stop and less than two miles from the legendary Rijksmuseum.
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Experience Culture Shock in Tokyo
From the airport, a fast-paced train can deliver you into the heart of Tokyo where you’ll find beauty stores, conveyor belt sushi, and cafes with kittens, hedgehogs, owls, and more. Stay at the Grand Hyatt Tokyo for easy access to the sprawling metro system that can take you anywhere you’d like to see. Don’t miss the shopping on Takeshita Street, the scene at Shibuya Station—”busiest intersection in the world”—the world of Disneyland Tokyo, and the majesty of Mt. Fuji.
Enjoy an All-Inclusive Resort in Mexico
Check out the family-friendly all-inclusive Grand Moon Palace in Cancun: Not only is this resort next to crisp, blue Pacific waters, but it offers an affordable experience that’s ideal for couples that want to escape the party scene. The restaurants offer cuisines from around the globe and inventive cocktails, and the golf course, arcades, and numerous pools will help you burn the extra calories.
Dance on the Streets in Buenos Aires
Make sure you arrive hungry since nearly every meal features steak, especially asado, the Argentine version of BBQ. Make time for tango (this is the birthplace, after all) by taking in a show or a lesson; plan a bike tour around the city; take a stroll through the arts district of Palmero; and if you’re there on a Monday, check out the internationally famous drum show La Bomba. The Four Seasons Buenos Aires is relatively affordable and puts you at the heart of the city, allowing easy access La Boca, Plaza De Mayo and other landmarks. Bonus: Their onsite restaurant offers some of the best beef in the city.
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Cook Thai Food and Hang Out with Elephants in Chiang Mai
This northern Thai town offers countless cooking schools in which instructors take you into the wonderful markets to purchase your ingredients before learning how to whip up all of the classics, from mango sticky rice and coconut milk to Khao Soi, Pad Thai, and other classics. Set aside a day to visit Elephant Nature Park, where you can bathe, walk, feed, and if you’re lucky, cuddle with elephants who were rescued from poachers or tourism parks. Consider staying at the stunning and culturally-connected Four Seasons Chiang Mai.
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Lounge Away in Montego Bay
As the capital of Saint James Parish on the north coast, this is a popular cruise ship port that’s known for golf courses and white sandy beaches like Doctor’s Cave and Walter Fletcher. Book your stay at the all-inclusive Royalton Blue Waters, which is known for its attention to detail and culinary options. Take advantage of the private pool on your balcony and the sea views.
Climb Table Mountain in Cape Town
If you’re making the journey to South Africa, seeing the city and the surrounding country from atop Table Mountain is a memory you will always remember. Check into the Cape Grace Hotel where you can recover from your flight in or your ascent of the mountain at the rooftop pool. For less strenuous adventure, consider touring Stellenbosch and its picturesque vineyards.
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Learn to Surf in Nicaragua
The point is that it’s still not too late, right? So consider booking a week-long stay at a surfing camp. One affordable immersion trip is Rise Up & Surf Nicaragua. You’ll get at least one surf session and yoga lesson each day, and all your meals and drinks are included. You’ll have the opportunity to meet travellers from around the world at this comfy camp.
Go Wine-Tasting in Chile
Chile boasts hectares of vineyards with views of the Andes Mountains in the background. Fly into the capital of Chile, Santiago. Plan a stay at The W Santiago, and be sure to take in the rooftop views of the city. Have dinner at the hotel’s fusion restaurant, Karai, where the chef can prepare mouthwatering meals for any diet. An easy hour-and-a-half ride to Casa Silva will put you in the heart of quintessential Chilean wine country where you can stay in a renovated 18th-century farmhouse converted to a boutique hotel with access to numerous vineyards.
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Tour the Big Apple
Head to this beloved metropolis in early summer before the humidity becomes unbearable, and plan visits to all the amazing sights, from the Guggenheim Museum to Central Park to the Empire State Building to the Brooklyn Bridge. While there are a seemingly endless number of hotels to pick from, one boutique pick is The Library Hotel, which puts you close enough to the action of Times Square that you can walk, but far enough away that you don’t feel overwhelmed.
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Visit a Balinese Healer
Your dollar will go far on this surprisingly unspoiled island. You can tour rice paddies, take in gamelan (traditional Balinese orchestra), rent scooters to visit the art-centric town of Ubud, and see a Balinese healer. Consider booking a few days at The Melia Bali, which offers several pools and restaurants, comfortable beds, and views of the Indian Ocean.
Stay in a Castle in Ireland
You can feel like royalty when you head to Ireland. Though the temperatures will still be chillier than most places in Europe, summer is a great time to witness Ireland’s lush, green beauty. Though there are plenty of castle-staying options, the 800-year-old Ashford Castle in County Mayo may be the most renowned: You can stroll the amazing grounds and gardens, try falconry, ride horses, or skeet shoot, just like a real royal.
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Eat Lobster in Maine
You’ll be hard-pressed to find the crustacean any fresher than on the stunning shores of this beautiful state. Consider staying at Cliff House Maine in Bald Head Cliff, which has 70 oceanfront acres. Not only will you enjoy Atlantic Ocean views, but you’ll be able to sample the catch of the day as you watch the sunset.
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Go Swimming in Lake Tahoe
Though known for its nearby ski resorts, this lake offers a whole different experience in summer. Try at Aston Lakeland Village Beach & Mountain Resort on the California side of the lake where you can wake to stunning views of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. You can kayak on the emerald green waters of Lake Tahoe, or take hikes through the surrounding peaks to alpine ponds.
Originally published as 17 Summer Vacations Everyone Should Take Before They’re 50 on ReadersDigest.com.