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Planning a trip in 2018?

Unless you know exactly where you want to go, there’s an entire world of destinations that you can explore.

Of course, that’s an overwhelming amount of places to choose from, so we asked travel agents to narrow down where you should think about visiting.

One hot travel ticket in 2018 is the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea. The games will take place from February 9 and 25 when 3,000 athletes from nearly 100 nations will participate.

“Just to say that you have been to an Olympics once in your life is at the top of some bucket lists,” said Suzanne Sneddon, senior sales and air specialists for SinglesCruise.com. “With brand new state-of-the-art facilities, all-time favorite events like figure skating, bobsledding, skiing and speed skating, plus some new and exciting additions, they are expected to be amazing games.”

Sneddon said that South Korea is a destination combining old and new while catering to global travelers by offering a step into the exotic and historic culture of the land.

“The Olympic venue is very compact, which is a benefit to those looking to attend multiple events,” she added.

If you prefer food and wine to sports, Maureen McKamey—an agent at A1 Travel, a Travel Leaders Network affiliate in Edina, Minnesota—suggests booking a trip to Spain's Castilla y Leon region in 2018.

“While most people immediately think of Barcelona, Madrid or Sevilla when traveling to Spain, you're missing out if you skip this vibrant section of the country's northwest,” she said.

McKamey added that Castilla y Leon is home to a number of Spain's best wine regions, including the famous Ribera del Duero:

“The area also offers Michelin-starred restaurants and a whole lot of history. See the incredibly well-preserved Roman aqueducts in Segovia, admire the gorgeous stained-glass windows in Leon's Gothic cathedral and sip Mencía (with a view) at Palacio de Canedo in Bierzo. It's Spain at its most authentic, and it's definitely worth a spot on your 2018 travel calendar."

One of the most popular places to see lately has been Iceland and Muffett Grubb of Cruise Holidays in Knoxville, Tennessee agrees that it should be on your 2018 travel list too:

“Iceland is a place to visit for travelers looking for unique experiences. Top tourist attractions include the Northern Lights, waterfalls, geysers and a dip in the Blue Lagoon. I am seeing a huge rise in interest from clients who want to visit Iceland and take in some of the exceptional sights, especially for those seeking adventure or outdoor activities.”

 

Another destination that continues to keep travelers' interest is Cuba.

“Once the forbidden destination that you only sailed around and saw from afar on a Caribbean cruise, you can now visit and experience what this wonderful island nation has to offer,” said Sneddon.

“Opened up to cruise ships with mostly US citizens onboard in 2016, the requirements and regulations of visiting have changed quite a few times already. Initially, people to people programs were required, then independent travel was allowed, and now it is back to the originally organized tours to meet the locals and share experiences with official excursions."

Sneddon recommends you check the status of visiting Cuba before your trip so that you are prepared:

“Stepping off the ship in Havana is not only like going to a different place, it is like going back in time 50-plus years. You will experience historic architecture, grand plazas, cathedrals and churches, museums, promenades, theaters and more.”

She recommends seeing the parade of 1950s US automobiles that have been restored to their initial glory and proudly cruise up and down El Malecon in La Habana Vieja:

“Hiring a driver for a spin in one of these beauties is a must and very reasonable. Also, make sure to have at least one meal in a Paladar. This is a relatively new concept within the last 20 years that allows entrepreneurs to open up a self-owned restaurant in their homes, serving some of the best traditional and local Cuba food you will ever have.”

 

Finally, for all you Ernest Hemingway fans, Sneddon suggests visiting El Floridita: “Have a daiquiri and get a picture with the bronze statue of Papa, take a tour, a short ride outside the city, to visit Finca Vigia – his home from 1939 to 1960. And visit Cojimar – the small fishing village that was his inspiration for The Old Man and the Sea.”

If these destinations don’t inspire you to travel there, perhaps they have at least inspired you to book a trip to somewhere in 2018

7 Reasons San Diego is the Perfect Winter Destination

 

 

When the autumn leaves have dropped from the trees and the mercury begins to plummet, many travelers start dreaming of a warmer, sunnier place to escape the cold, snow and ice.

San Diego is known for its beautiful weather, world-famous attractions and sunshine.

With its rich history, cultural treasures, award-winning beaches and Pacific Ocean views, "America's Finest City" is an ideal winter travel destination.

Weather

San Diego is as gorgeous as California gets. With its sunny, almost picture-perfect year-round Mediterranean-like weather, 265 average days of sunshine, ocean breezes coming off the coast of Baja and incredible beaches, any time is a good time for a San Diego adventure.

Average winter temperatures range from the mid-60s to 70s Fahrenheit, so it’s extremely rare when visitors need anything heavier than a sweatshirt or light jacket. When our grandchildren visited for a week in January a few years back, we had several fun, frolicking beach days with the thermometer reading 80 every time.

Beaches and Coastline

Speaking of beaches, San Diego boasts 70 miles of pristine sand along its stunningly beautiful coastline. Whether it’s relaxing, sunning, surfing, kayaking or body-boarding, there are some great beaches to choose from.

San Diego Zoo

This world-renowned zoological park is home to more than 3,700 animals, many not seen in other zoos around the world. The San Diego Zoo is dedicated to protecting and breeding endangered species. The guided bus tour is a great way to get oriented to the different parts of this enormous animal park.

We love to ride the Skyfari Aerial Tram for a bird's eye views of the lush and varied landscape (and animals) below. It’s so easy to fall in love with the giant pandas and their adorable babies in Panda Canyon!

Cute, cuddly koalas perch in eucalyptus trees in the Australian Outback, and every day's an Arctic day at Polar Bear Plunge. Elephant Odyssey pays homage to prehistoric life in southern California while showcasing some of their modern-day descendants.

Balboa Park

As the nation's largest urban recreational area, Balboa Park was built for the 1915 International Exposition. This majestic park, with its impressively ornate Spanish structures, hosts 17 museums on its more than 1,200 acres.

The museums' offerings range from air and space to automobiles, model railroads and sports, including one of the largest planetariums in the U.S.

For an impressive panoramic view of San Diego, we climbed seven stories and 125 stairs to a spiral staircase leading to an outdoor viewing deck at the Museum of Man. With Balboa Park below and the harbor, mountains and city beyond, San Diego appeared as an inspiring canvas of sight and color. We were able to see all the way to Mexico on the clear day we visited.

Architecture is quite stunning here. It’s guaranteed that something will always be blooming in its impressive gardens that range from a Japanese Friendship Garden, a Botanical Building filled with rare flowers and orchids, and even a Lily Pond.

Hotel Del Coronado

The magnificent 126-year-old Hotel Del Coronado is located across the bay from downtown San Diego. It oozes with history and elegance. The Victorian beachside resort—built in 1888 with its iconic bright red-shingled roof—has hosted 14 presidents and other famous dignitaries. This iconic resort resides on a wide, pristine, white sand beach, considered one of the best in the world.

Skating by the Sea is one of our most memorable San Diego experiences. Each year from Thanksgiving Day through January 1, a spectacular outdoor ice rink is set up on the grounds of “The Del” (as the locals call it).

With stunning views of the Pacific and Coronado Beach ahead and the backdrop of its Victorian Building adorned with thousands of glimmering lights, skaters glide to holiday music underneath swaying palms in a truly magical setting.

La Jolla

Just 15 miles north of downtown San Diego, La Jolla, means "the jewel." It fascinates visitors with its stunning coastline featuring sea caves and an underwater ecological reserve perfect for snorkelers and divers.

Ocean kayaking here was an incredible experience while gliding through the La Jolla Ecological Reserve filled with a multitude of marine life. Barking sea lions, basking harbor seals and leopard sharks swimming near the caves were our companions as we paddled the cool Pacific waters.

A green cypress tree park along the shoreline is the perfect place to frolic and enjoy a stunning sunset. The town, filled with boutique shops and dining venues, beckons locals and vacationers alike to experience a savory slice of Southern California living.

Old Town San Diego

Considered the "birthplace" of California, Old Town State Historic Park shows California as it was in the 1830s when it belonged to Mexico. Old Town features restored adobe homes, historic hotel and vintage shops with a true flair of the old Southwest. Docents dressed in period attire provide museum tours.

The Bazaar Del Mundo and Fiesta De Reyes areas feature colorfully festive displays, Mexican crafts, outdoor entertainment and sumptuous restaurants.

Casa De Reyes is always our favorite place to dine due to its outdoor courtyard seating surrounding the lush tropical plaza in the heart of Old Town. Food is fresh and piping hot, the service is excellent and who can resist the sound of a joyous Mariachi band?

Ansel Adams once wrote “It is all very beautiful and magical here—a quality which cannot be described. You have to live it and breathe it, let the sun bake into you.”

He must have been sitting in San Diego at the time, as he certainly describes this magnificent Southern California destination to a tee.< New text box >>

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2810 W. Gold Dust Ave
Queen Creek AZ 85142

www.north33travel.info

hawkins.d@north33travelnow.com

 

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