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Estes Park, Colorado
The reason to visit Rocky Mountain National Park and its eastern gateway Estes Park is to go outside and stay outside, especially in summer. Rocky Mountain National Park bills itself as a “living showcase of the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains” with “opportunities for countless breathtaking experiences and adventures.” These opportunities include hiking or horseback riding along the park’s 359 miles of trails. Camping, fishing, climbing, biking, and wildlife viewing also beckon the outdoors enthusiast. Estes Park is the place to be in July for the Rooftop Fair and Rodeo, with cowboys and concerts. And you can enjoy Lake Estes along the walkway around it, peddling paddle-boats across it, or gliding on sailboats through it.
Hersey is a great vacation destination for family vacations. What more could kids want — candy and a theme park? Those are the big attractions in Hershey, Penn., called The Sweetest Place on Earth by the eponymous chocolate company founded there by Milton Hershey more than 100 years ago. Visit Hershey’s Chocolate World for an interactive tour-ride that explains how chocolate is made and ends with a sample of the sweet stuff. Kids will love Hersheypark, a theme park with more than 60 rides that have nothing to do with chocolate but everything to do with fun. Hershey also is home to a zoo, botanical gardens, and the Hersehy Museum. And within driving distance are visitor-friendly Harrisburg, the Pennsylvania capital, and the beautiful Amish country of rolling hills, picturesque farms, and covered bridges.
San Francisco, California
Bring a hearty appetite and good walking shoes to the City by the Bay. For a quintessential San Francisco experience, climb aboard a cable car, peruse the farm-fresh goods at the Ferry Market, stroll through Golden Gate Park and board a ferry to the island of Alcatraz for a dose of history and great city views.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Santa Fe is a natural beauty, nestled in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the foothills of the Rockies, with an average of 300 days of sunshine and clear blue skies. One of the most unique offerings of Santa Fe is the open-air opera (pictured). Take a backstage tour for only $5, or catch some of the best operas under the stars. Italian a little rusty? Don’t worry, this opera house has electronic translators on the back of each seat so you can read along in English while you listen to the beautiful music. Santa Fe is probably the best place in the world to shop for American Indian arts and crafts. Find a great Native American memento from a vendor in front of the Palace of the Governors. For higher-quality Indian art, try vendors clustered around the Plaza.
The birthplace of grunge music is also the unofficial capital of coffee consumption in the United States. Why? Starbucks and Seattle’s Best Coffee were founded in Seattle, of course. Depending on the weekend, you might find one of several major festivals held in the city; from the music event Bumbershoot held over Labor Day weekend to the one of the many ethnic festivals held each year. You can also check out some of the dozens of museums, including the Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum, Museum of Flight, or the Museum of History and Industry. From there, many sign up for the Seattle Underground Tour, a trek to many places that existed before the city’s Great Fire.