We all have exotic destinations on our bucket list, but logistics and money can prevent us from taking that dream vacation. So we’ve picked some closer-to-home vacation spots that will make you feel like you’ve traveled to the farthest corners of the globe.
6 Close-To-Home Vacations That Will Make You Feel Like A Globetrotter
Curious About Havana? Visit Miami’s Calle Ocho
No, not Pitbull’s song, but the actual Miami street it’s named after. Located in Little Havana, Ocho offers the best Cubano eats around without having to leave dry land. A great drive and walk for colorful art you’ll see, a great time to visit is during the popular Calle Ocho street party (now an official state festival) for the celebration of Cuban culture such as food, music, dance, folklore and drinks like the 500 liters of sangria offered.
The oldest Japantown in America can be found in San Francisco’s Western Addition, home to countless ramen joints, markets and boutiques. Ground Zero is Post Street, home to Peace Plaza, the five-tiered Peace Pagoda and the Japan Center, which is packed with shops and eateries. Make sure to check out the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival in April, and the Nihonmachi Street Fair in August, a celebration of Asian culture blending old and new school and the Japanese Tea Garden in the warm-weather months.
Montreal shares more than a language and lineage with the French capital: She’s loaded with greystone architecture, artsy locals and big Catholic cathedrals, like Notre-Dame Basilica in the historic district. Some would argue that Montreal’s gay village is even better than La Marais, Paris’ gayborhood. Even Montreal’s subway system is based on the legendary Paris Metro. Next week is Montreal’s 25th annual fashion week—you don’t get more Parisian than that.
Winter is the best to visit Ouray, dubbed “The Switzerland of America.” Along with skiing, snowmobiling and other winter sports, you can also ice climb and bathe in hot springs. Oprah has been a guest at the historic Beaumont Hotel & Spa (right), the closest you’ll get to a Swiss chalet on this side of the Atlantic.
At the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center near Glen Rose, more than 1,000 animals (representing 50 species) roam freely across some 1,700 acres. We’re talkinggiraffes, gazelles, cheetahs, wildebeests, antelope—even zebras and rhinos! Take a guided tour or go a scenic drive on your own (windows up, please). For a true safari experience, stay overnight in a tented cabin at the Foothills Safari Camp overlooking one of Fossil Rim’s most popular wildlife watering holes.
The only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest system, the 28,000-acre El Yunque National Forest is just about 30 minutes outside of San Juan on the slopes of the Sierra de Luquillo mountains. Hike through the wilderness to see giant tree ferns,coqui frogs, tropical birds (including the Puerto Rican parrot, Mangrove Cuckoo and Green Mango Hummingbird) and the awe-inspiring La Mina Falls. Additionally, Yunque’s Dwarf Forest is home to unique flora and fauna.