Traveling to Canada in the Winter – There’s a reason Canada is known as the Great White North, and it’s not because it’s a tropical paradise.
Canadian winters are legendary as much for their breathtaking beauty and unique seasonal attractions as for their bitter cold and heavy snowfalls.
Maybe you’re heading to Toronto for business or Vancouver for vacation.
Perhaps you’ve recently purchased some Calgary real estate or maybe you’re just visiting your Great Aunt Bedelia in Montreal.
Whatever your destination, here are some important things to know before braving the Great White North when it’s at its greatest and whitest.
Traveling to Canada in the Winter Dress warm. Very, very warm
Don’t roll your eyes!
You may think you know how cold Canada can get, but unless you’ve experienced it firsthand, you have no idea.
While winters in the British Columbia region are relatively tame, hovering just above or below zero degrees, areas in the Prairies are often closer to negative 35, and that’s not including the wind chill.
Know where you’re going and what the weather will be like and dress accordingly, but prepare for the worst just in case.
Wear a heavy insulated jacket over fleece or wool clothing with thermals underneath.
Bring a warm beanie, gloves, and heavy boots with removable ice cleats.
Sunlight reflecting off a snowbank can be blindingly bright.
Take advantage of winter deals
They say if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
What if you can’t stand the cold?
Then get out of Canada?
A lot of people do just that every year, which means that hotels, spas, and other tourist destinations will often offer significant discounts.
Many will even have special wintertime packages that pair room and board with meals and/or activities.
Most airlines will also offer cheaper flights, and don’t be surprised if it suddenly becomes easy to get reservations at some of those hard-to-book restaurants you’ve been salivating over.
Expect delays or even closures
It’s not all easy reservations and inexpensive hotels, mind you.
The fact that tourism slows down in the winter means that, while many businesses and attractions offer discounts, others are forced to reduce their hours or offerings, or even close their doors entirely.
Make sure to double-check the winter hours of your destinations beforehand, and look up weather and traffic reports as well.
Snowstorms and freezing temperatures can cause unplanned delays and closures.
Above all, make sure to drive safe, bring a shovel and other supplies along, and keep your phone charged in case of emergencies.
Don’t miss out on rare opportunities
Traveling to Canada in the winter might seem like an awful lot of trouble, but with a little preparation and care, all that effort can yield some truly one-of-a-kind experiences.
There are few places in the world that offer better skiing, snowboarding, sledding, snowmobiling, and ice-fishing opportunities than Canada in the wintertime.
Scenic areas like Niagara Falls and Banff National Park are all the more breathtaking when surrounded by blankets of pure white snow and rows of glittering icicles.
If cold doesn’t bother you, consider visiting Quebec’s Hôtel de Glace, a hotel made entirely of ice and snow, which only exists for three months in the winter and has to be rebuilt anew each year.
Similarly short-lived and unforgettable are annual events like the Toronto Light Festival, Ottawa’s Winterlude, and Montreal’s Igloofest.
Last but not least, the long dark nights of a Canadian winter provide perfect conditions for viewing the Northern Lights in all their shimmering, psychedelic glory.
We loved the excursions when we went on an Alaskan cruise. Going on a cruise is an easy vacation — just show up and enjoy! What makes it even more fun are the Alaska shore excursions and exploring the ports.
But which Alaskan excursions to choose?
You might get a good deal on the cruise but end up paying as much on the excursions.
There are some tips for choosing Alaska’s Inside Passage excursions to make it easier for you to decide what to do.
Alaska shore excursions
We took Princess Cruises to the Alaska Inside Passage. The ship traveled from Seattle and stopped at Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan, and Victoria, Canada. The day at Glacier Bay National Park was at sea.
Before you start booking excursions, it’s important to remember that being on the cruise ship is a wonderful time. It’s a vacation in itself.
Once you’ve booked your cruise, paid the gratituities, and are on the ship, there’s nothing else you haveto spend money on.
You don’t have to feel pressured to spend a lot of money on excursions if it’s not within your means.
It’s tempting to want to book excursions in each port.
No matter whatever your vacation budget, you can enjoy the ports, whether you book shore excursions or not.
Especially in Alaska, you can end up paying as much for excursions as you did for your cruise. Perhaps it makes sense to not book excursions and use that money for next year’s vacation instead.
However, the great news about Alaskan excursions is that there are many different price points.
Here are some tips to help figure out how to get the best value for your money and time in Alaska.
Alaska cruise excursions tips
Here’s what to do to make the right decision about Alaska shore excursions for you and your travel companions.
1. What Alaska shore excursions are available?
It’s really exciting to go on an Alaskan cruise, and it’s natural to get excited about the excursions there.
You will see a lot of information about shore excursions through whatever cruise line you book your Alaskan cruise. It’s a good idea to start there to learn about them.
Read about them to get a feel for what’s available.
Alaska cruise shore excursions Inside Passage
Here are some types of excursions you will have time for when your cruise ship docks in the Alaskan ports.
Kayaking and canoeing
Hiking and biking
City bus tours as well as tours in small vans
Boat tours, including whale watching tours
Scenic train rides
Helicopter tours to Mendenhall Glacier and other glaciers; flightseeing tours to Misty Fjords
Visiting Saxman Village in Ketchikan
Attending lumberjack show
Dog sledding on the glacier (need to take helicopter there)
So whether you want to enjoy a salmon bake or rafting down the Chilkat River, there is something that will appeal to everyone.
2. Consider your interests
There many options for excursions in Alaska. However, before you start thinking about the costs and money-side of things, first think about:
What are you interested in doing? What appeals to you?
This is your perhaps once-in-a-lifetime cruise and visit to Alaska. Do you want to see whales? Go salmon fishing? Explore the history and layout of the cities? Hang out at a local restaurant and enjoy a beer?
3. Fitness level and mobility
Are you physically able to get around? Would you enjoy being physically active on this vacation?
Are you afraid of heights? If so, perhaps you will want to forgo zip lining as well as the helicopter tours.
Do you get seasick easily? (Even if you don’t experience motion sickness while on the cruise, the boat tours and whale watching tour boats will be much smaller, increasing your chances of seasickness.)
By considering your physical abilities and your interests, you can fine tune your list of excursion possibilities.
4. What’s your cruise ship’s itinerary?
Once you’ve gotten an idea of what excursions are available, your interests, and your abilities, another tip for deciding among Alaska’s excursions is know the ship’s itinerary.
You will find your cruise ship’s intinerary easily when you book your cruise.
This is really important.
It’s essential to find out how long and when you will be in each port.
Sometimes you will be in a port for a few hours, others, all day. You may only be there at night.
When you know where you are going and the times you will be in port, you can decide if you even want to take an excursion.
You may want to spend the time walking at your leisure through the town.
Alaska port itinerary
On our cruise to Alaska, our port itinerary was:
Day 3: Juneau: 11am – 10pm
Day 4: Skagway: 7am – 8:30pm
Day 5: Glacier Bay (everyone stays on ship; it was a day onboard)
Day 6: Ketchikan: 7am – 1pm
Day 7: Victoria, Canada: 7pm – 11:59pm
We didn’t want to go-go-go on our vacation. We were looking forward to downtime days at sea and taking some time to explore on our own at the ports.
If you are only in a port for a few hours, you may decide to forgo an excursion.
5. Consider your travel habits
We were looking forward to our days at sea so we could thoroughly enjoy all the ship had to offer.
Another bonus and something to consider is when your ship is at port, many of the passengers leave the ship to explore the town and go on excursions.
While the ship never seems crowded, it will be even less crowded when it’s at port. That’s a fun time to enjoy the ship.
We planned our time in the ports based on meals. We didn’t want to have to spend money on food (plus we deal with food allergies) once we left the ship. So most days, we woke up, ate breakfast on the ship, and then headed to explore the town.
If we had an excursion, we factored that in as well.
It’s hassle-free getting off the ship and back on again, so if you have the energy and enough time, you can have your breakfast or lunch on-board, then leave the ship to explore the town. Then you can come back to eat again when you are hungry, and then go back out again if you are inclined.
6. Budget for Alaska shore excursions
Okay, this is the big one: Money. You have to pay for all of this fun. Many excursions are expensive. How much can you allocate to the excursions?
Know that many tours and other activities are more budget-friendly than the helicopter rides and other excursions.
There are many options to choose from and something to interest most everyone at many different price points.
7. There’s lots to do in the Alaskan ports
My family really enjoyed walking around the towns on our own, exploring them and being spontaneous.
Remember, these Alaskan ports have cruise ships and thousands of passengers almost every day from April through October. They make their money in these months from all the tourists.
There is a lot to do and see in the Alaskan ports of call, even if you don’t book an excursion.
Do I need to book an excursion when going on an Alaskan cruise?
It’s always educational and interesting to get a feel for the town you visit. You will get to experience a lot by exploring on your own. Most of the ports you will visit have historical sites, including statues and monuments as well as a downtown area with art, shopping, and more.
Juneau things to do
Within three minutes of walking off the ship in Juneau, we saw a bald eagle. It turned out to be the only bald eagle we saw the entire trip.
In Juneau we saw the state capitol building. (It was closed because we were there on Memorial Day, but it was still interesting to see. Across the street was historical information about the Alaska Purchase with plaques and statues.)
After wandering the streets and stopping in several shops, including souvenir shops and more that were like art galleries, we took a tram ride.
Mount Roberts Tramway in Juneau
While this felt like an excursion, it actually wasn’t.
This tram ride in Juneau was very economical and also made it seem like we “did something in Juneau.”
The tram goes 1,800 feet up and was a quick ride. It was fun for the kids as well as the adults. You will get to see Juneau and all the beauty of the city. When on the tram, looking out one way you will see all the trees, and the other way you see more of the city. There were stellar views; it was a wonderful experience, especially for the price.
I would absolutely do this again on a return visit. If we had more time, it would have been fun to ride up and down multiple times. With your purchase, you get access all day.
Once you take the scenic tram to the top, you will enjoy the lookout from a vantage point of 3,819′ on Mt Roberts. Take a minute to go to the lookout rail right off the tram. You won’t remember to do it on the way back down and won’t be able to if there is a line. The view is incredible. You will be able to see your cruise ship as well.
Afterwards, we went into the nature shop which was a small gift shop. However, it also had a lot of hands-on exhibits and information. You can walk around this building to learn about eagles. There is also an area where you can see craftsmen working on totem poles.
In addition, there are incredible hiking trails which range from moderate to challenging. You can even hike down the mountain.
Hiking on Mt Roberts
Taking a hike was among my favorite things to do the entire trip. It was a somewhat easy hike. There was a marked trail with a slight incline at parts. You can walk one way and turn around or take the loop which is what we did.
It wasn’t far, maybe a mile at the most. There were other paths to take, including a trail that you could take down instead of taking the tram back. We weren’t prepared for that but if you had time, the right shoes, water, and could do steep decents on less-paved hiking, it would be fun.
You can enjoy riding the tram up and down as many times as you want. However, when we were there, it wasn’t as practical to ride multiple times because of the lines. We loved going to the Mount Roberts Tramway. It was very close to our cruiseship. This was the last thing we did in Juneau.
Helicopter Tour to Mendenhall Glacier and Dog Sledding on Mendenhall Glacier
I’ve been blessed to go on two Alaskan cruises. Years ago, I went on the helicopter to the Mendenhall Glacier.
There are many excursions in Juneau. This time, we took the helicopter tour and did dogsledding in Skagway.
Skagway excursions and things to do
We enjoyed our morning on the ship and had an early lunch before heading out to Skagway. We had a helicopter ride and dog sledding excursion at 5pm.
In the meantime, we explored Skagway on our own. Like in Juneau and Ketchikan, there are many interesting shops.
There is also the Chilkoot Trail with 33 miles of recreational trails.
In Skagway, we liked having this mix of exploring the shops and town as well as the opportunity to go to the historical sites. There was an ice cream shop and a popcorn shop along with restaurants, breweries, etc.
Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park Visitor Center
This is not a paid excursion but something free in Skagway.
Something we really enjoyed is the National Park Service’s historic sites in Skagway’s historic district. There are 20+ gold rush boom town buildings here.
In addition to being able to take free ranger programs, including their guided tours and talks, you can also go inside some of the buildings to experience them as they might have been.
Be sure to check out the Visitor Center Museum, the Mascot Saloon Museum, the Moore House Museum, and Jeff. Smiths Parlour Museum. You may walk past these at first, not realizing they are part of the sites.
You will also see the White Pass & Yukon Route Railway here. You book an excursion for a 40 mile roundtrip on this narrated train tour.
Alaska Helicopter Tour and dog sledding in Skagway
After exploring Skagway, we went back to eat before heading out to the helicopter ride. This was surprisingly close to the ship, so we didn’t have to factor in too much walking time.
We enjoyed the experience and the dog sledding. We wore layers, and they provided us with boots and gear as part of the fee. The only way for us to get a picture of us on the dog sled was to pay extra. So bring your camera to get other pictures, especially from the helicopter.
Originally, we had wanted to book this excursion earlier in the day. But by the time we committed to it, only the 5pm and later slots were open. We were disappointed but it worked out wonderfully.
We enjoyed staying on the empty ship as everyone left to explore Skagway. Then, we left at our own pace and enjoyed the town. It wasn’t cold at all at night which is what we were concerned about.
The helicopter ride and dog sledding excursion are really once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. We were glad we did it.
Ketchikan shore excursions and things to do
Years ago I booked the excursion to the Saxman Village in Ketchikan. I highly recommend it, and we may have went if we had more time.
The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show
For our excursion in Ketchikan, we booked The Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show.
We sat in the arena for this show — it was about an hour. It was highly entertaining. These men are incredibly talented. They were definitely competing with each other in this show which made it even more fun.
When you consider this excursion, you have the opportunity to pay extra to throw an axe at a target after the show.
Surprisingly, my kids were the only kids who did this; the 10 or so others were all adults.It was fun for all of us to get up closer to the performers; they were great with my kids. It really ended the entire experience on an even higher note.
Ketchikan things to do
Even walking to the lumberjack show, we were able to get a flair for Ketchikan. We saw jellyfish in the water along the walk. There were shops and statues.
After the lumberjack show, we walked around town. We saw some totem poles and walked to Creek Street. On the way back to the ship, we stopped in several more souvenir-type stores.
Take some time to walk here to this historic district’s shopping area. The shops are on the water; it’s really neat to see all of these interesting shops filled with artisans’ works.
Victoria, Canada excursions
When we were docking in Victoria, Canada, this was our last night on the cruise ship. We didn’t book any excursions.
We wanted to “go to Canada” but really weren’t looking for something to do at night. So we got off the ship, walked around the souvenir shop and then a tented area with local artist and vendors, and then went back on the ship.
They had several tour busses lined up so even if you didn’t book in advance, you could take a bus and be back in time.
Exploring Alaskan ports of call
Of course there is the idea that “this is vacation” so you should “live it up.”
However, know the cruise ship itself is really fun. In addition, if you have kids, they will most likely love it.
In addition, remember, there are many fun things to do in the Alaskan ports that you don’t have to pay for. Walking around exploring the town is very interesting. It’s fun seeing the homes. It’s interesting to see the way these Alaskan ports make a living off of cruise tourism.
Book excursions in advance
There’s lots of information online. If there is an excursion you really want to do, book it in advance. Many excursions sell out. Also, depending on your cruiseline, you may end up paying more if you decide to schedule your excursion once you are on the ship.
Know that the research you do now will make your cruise easier.
8. Compare Alaska excursions and prices
You can book your Alaskan shore excursions through the cruise company you used to arrange your cruise, through Costco, or through other outside vendors.
Once you decide what you want to do and what you can afford, begin to compare prices. Note that most of the excursions will be somewhat the same depending on the terrain, etc. at the port.
You will see there are many excursions in all of the ports for most all of the cruise lines and stops.
Many cruise lines go to Alaska, including Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Cunard, and Holland America Line. Some of the cruise ships that go to Alaska include Norwegian Cruise Line, Disney Cruise Line, and Holland American.
Most of these cruise lines all offer the same types of excursions. It’s more dependent on where you are going and what they have to offer there.
Alaska shore excursions through your cruise
The advantage of booking with your cruise company is they know exactly when you will be in port, and how long you will have to complete the excursion. This takes all the stress away wondering if there will be enough time.
If there is a delay getting back to the ship, the ship won’t sail without you. Although, when we were on our cruise, there was a tour bus that came back late (from an independent operator) and our ship waited for them.
We booked one of our excursions through Princess Cruises.
Excursions through Costco Travel
We really like Costco for booking cruises and excursions. Costco has built such a tremendous value-for-your-money brand that it’s easy to believe you are getting maximum value for the price.
Use it as a baseline. If you can find it cheaper through your cruiseline, book it through your cruise.
We ended up booking one of our Alaska excursions through Costco.
Research local tour and excursion operators online
You can also do your due diligence by researching online for local tours and excursions. There will be many to choose from in each Alaskan port.
These are often — but not always — more local-type companies.
You can compare those excursions, prices and times.
If you see a significant difference in price, be sure to compare how long the excursion is and exactly what you will be doing to make sure it compares with seemingly-similar offers.
Note, if you are more of the “let’s wait and see what we feel like doing” type, know there will be options right off the ship. There will be many local tour operators and offers for you to seek out if you are interested.
We didn’t check the prices to know if they are more expensive or less expensive than booking online. If you do some research in advance about excursions in the area, you should have a good idea of a “good price” when you ask.
Researching Alaska cruise excursions
We went through Costco to purchase our excursions. While we don’t necessarily advise this, we booked our cruise with 32 days out and first looked at excursions three weeks out.
Some excursions were already sold out by this time.
Fortunately, we were flexible. We decided to buy some excursions online. We planned to spend the rest of the time exploring the Alaskan ports and Victoria, Canada on our own.
Alaska shore excursions costs
Likely most of the time, for most people, it comes down to price.
Because excursions are optional, you want to be sure it’s worth the cost of doing it. Otherwise, you may want to save the money and explore what there is to do in the port.
Sometimes an excursion can cost as much as your airfare. If you book several, they can be more expensive than your cruise. Perhaps it makes sense to use that money for another cruise vacation!
Perhaps you’d rather explore the Alaska ports on your own — for free.
It is important to remember, you will have just booked and possibly paid for your cruise. If you’ve paid for the gratuity fees, there is nothing else you will have to pay for pertaining to the cruise itself.
(Of course, you will have to get yourself from home to the cruise terminal and back home again. You may need to factor in lodging and food if you fly in the day before.)
After that, you can determine how much you have to spend for excursions and other discretionary spending.
If you and your family do excursions each day in port, it adds up quickly.
Things to do at Alaskan ports
Each port we went to had something to do right off the ship. From Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan, you can easily spend the time walking around.
Like at all the Alaskan ports, there are specialtiy stores — everything from jewelry, art, carvings, local handiwork, etc. — breweries, bars, restaurants — and the more traditional souvenir stores with Alaska t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, knick knacks and trinkets, bottled water, snacks, etc.
For our cruise to Alaska, we took Princess Cruises. We used Princess Cruises and Costco Travel to research and book our excursions.
While we don’t recommend it, we booked our cruise 32 days out and first looked up excursions about three weeks out.
Compare both to get an idea of what’s available and what interest you and if you are traveling with kids, what you will want to do as a family.
By the time we decided and went went back to pay for the excursions many were already sold out. Again this was less than three weeks out so if you do a little bit sooner you will probably be fine.
We decided to buy some excursions and then spend the rest of the time exploring the Alaskan ports on our own.
Getting back on the ship in Alaskan ports
We boarded our cruise ship with ease each time. There weren’t lines. We simply showed our cabin keycard and went through security and the princess cruises staff welcomed us back on board.
Our cruise to Alaska sailed to the Inside Passage. You will have a fun time on the ship as well as get the chance to explore the cities and towns at the ports whether or not you plan excursions.
Booking Alaska shore excursions
If you really want to do an excursion, plan to book it in advance of your cruise. If you are more flexible, you can take advantage of the special offers that might be off the ship from local tour and excursion operators.
Consider if you will be happy seeing the scenery, shops, local history and overall feeling for the town. With a little research, you can find hikes and historical things to do as well.
Whichever Alaska shore excursions you decide on, you will likely enjoy them. And remember, it’s interesting to experience the Alaskan scenery, local vibe, and recreation in the ports — no matter what you choose to do.
How to Find Leisure and Luxury in Niagara Falls – Niagara Falls likes to brag that it receives more than 8 million visitors per year, making it one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world and preferred Great Lakes Destinations.
There are an abundance of hotels and resorts that combine high-class accommodations with shopping, dining and entertainment opportunities.
For example, Falls Avenue Resort offers rooms with stunning views of Niagara Falls from four different hotels: Clifton Victoria Inn at the Falls, Crowne Plaza Fallsview, Sheraton on the Falls and the Skyline Hotel.
As well as on-premises access to the Fallsview Indoor Waterpark, the Christienne Fallsview Spa, Clifton Hill and convenient shuttles to Casino Niagara.
Why bother staying somewhere less convenient when you are after a leisurely trip?
Queen Victoria Park is a Secret Niagara Falls Viewing Spots
Queen Victoria Park is a must-visit viewing spot for the world-famous waterfalls.
Just a few steps from most hotels on the Canadian side, the park provides sweeping views of both Horseshoe Falls and American and Bridal Falls on the U.S. side.
However, Queen Victoria Park is also devastatingly crowded for most of the year; not only is it a common place for tourists to linger, taking pictures and whatnot, but it is also a popular event space for the occasional festival.
Perhaps the most leisurely and luxurious activity to participate in during a trip to Niagara Falls is a wine tasting tour.
Niagara Valley has a soil not unlike that of France; the soil is rich and fertile, the weather relatively temperate thanks to the surrounding lakes, and the grapes grow as if by magic, producing fantastic vintages.
Several vineyards and wineries in the area have won international awards, drawing critical attention and praise to the Niagara wine country.
There are roughly 400 winemakers spread around the Niagara Valley.
Much too many for you to try them all during one trip.
You might consider consulting your hotel’s concierge for advice on convenient and quality wine adventures; most resorts offer discounts on tickets with certain tours, and you might even gain behind-the-scenes access to some vineyards thanks to your association with your accommodations.
There are ways to see and experience Niagara Falls without fighting against crowds of eager tourists.
By planning ahead and choosing options that take you away from the hustle and bustle, you can enjoy a quiet and relaxing trip to the falls.
There are so many places in the world where you will not only experience the beauty of Mother Nature but also have unforgettable experiences. Sunrise from Haleakala National Park is absolutely one of them!
When you travel to Hawaii, it’s not unusual to expect something extraordinary to happen on these majestic islands.
One of the most spectacular things to do while on holiday is to watch the sunrise from Haleakala National Park.
Waking up before the sun to climb a mountain may seem like a challenge to some, but the incredible views from the top of the Haleakala Summit can be life-changing!
But what exactly can you expect on your sunrise hike?
Much like planning an epic Hawaiian snorkeling trip, planning your summit hike at Haleakala doesn’t have to be difficult!
Here are a few things you can expect from this once in a lifetime Hawaiian tour to Haleakala National Park.
Haleakala National Park and Maui
Covering an impressive area of about 33,300 acres, Haleakala is located in the heart of the Hawaiian Islands chain.
The park, which was once part of the Hawaii National Park, is on the island of Maui.
The volcano boasts a summit of over 10,000 feet above sea level and is one of the most visited spots on the island.
However, the Haleakala National Park is a place for conservation, a reservation for animals, and the home of species that are found nowhere else on the planet.
To see the sun climb over the clouds, you have to book your time with an approved agency.
This may mean having to reserve your tour slot far in advance.
The reason for this is to lessen the impact on the natural surroundings as much as possible!
There are plenty of ways to book your tour, and to get the most out of your sunrise experience.
It’s not all just climbing the mountain!
The Maui Volcano Sunrise Tour allows for people to experience the epic views, see the breathtaking sunrise, and still get a little more bang for your buck.
What to Expect on the Haleakala Sunrise Tour
The islands of Hawaii are known for their stunning forests, beautiful beaches, and out of this world tourist experiences.
The Haleakala sunrise tour is no different!
The tour can include things you may never have thought would be a part of a hiking and sight-seeing tour!
Key points to keep in mind when planning your Haleakala tour
Haleakala summit Altitude and Activity
The Haleakala summit is quite high.
This means that it will be extremely chilly in the early morning hours, so pack accordingly.
The steady hike up to the summit can be a bit challenging if you aren’t generally an active person.
There are a lot of options as far as transportation goes, so keep those in mind when booking your tour!
Food and Drink
As always when traveling, keep a reusable water bottle close at hand.
If you’ve been searching for your next vacation spot and believe that Cancun would be a great destination to travel to, you should first learn more about what the weather is like in this city.
Cancun Mexico Weather and Cancun Airport code: CUN
By understanding what the climate and weather of Cancun are like, you’ll be able to schedule your vacation for a time when the weather will be at its best.
Cancun Mexico weather will effect your travel time to Cancun Airport.
Located in southeast Mexico, the city of Cancun has a tropical climate, which means that there is very little difference between the four seasons.
The primary difference that you should be aware of when traveling to Cancun for a vacation is that there are separate and very pronounced dry and rainy seasons.
On the other hand, the temperatures are generally hot during the entire year, which means that you’ll want to take ample amounts of sunscreen with you.
The average temperatures throughout the year are just above 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
However, some of the heat is mitigated by sea breezes, which should keep you comfortable while you’re on your vacation.
Weather in Cancun Mexico
If you’re planning on taking a swim while in Cancun, the weather in Cancun Mexico is wonderful for the temperature of the sea is almost always warm because of how the Yucatan is continuously bringing in warm water from regions further to the south.
The temperature of the sea water oscillates between 79-84 degrees Fahrenheit no matter the time of the year.
Before you travel to Cancun Mexican, it’s important for you to know that this city can be impacted by tropical storms on a regular basis because of its location.
The tropical storm season runs from May through December.
However, Cancun doesn’t get hit by severe hurricanes that often.
In fact, the last major hurricane to cause extensive damage in Cancun was Hurricane Wilma in 2005.
There’s also a significant amount of warning before a tropical storm or hurricane hits Cancun, which ensures that you have time to change your plans should the need arise.
Cancun is a gorgeous destination during any month of the year.
Even if you visit during a month that’s sunnier and drier than most, there’s always a possibility that it could rain, which is why you should consider upscale Cancun vacation rentals for your vacation.
The Weather in Mexico Cancun
Located on the northeast coast of the Yucatán Peninsula of Mexico, Cancun is a lively and vibrant land of sunshine, beaches and cultural delights.
As such, it has become one of the primary tourist destinations in the Region.
More than that, boasting the beautiful weather that characterizes the Caribbean sea, Cancun is one of the most active tropical tourism spots in the world.
Outside of a few short storm-heavy periods of time, the city can be visited and enjoyed all throughout the entire year.
If ever it rains, a stay at one of these rentals ensures that you’ll have a great time even when you need to stay indoors.
In fact, businesses in the tourism industry like hotels, bars and restaurants are open most days on the calendar.
That is not to say, though, that there aren’t some important weather-related differences in Cancun that depend on the season.
Like almost all tourist destinations in the world, the place has high, medium and low seasons.
Weather Cancun Mexico
During high seasons, more people will travel to Cancun, resulting in more elevated prices all around.
There are various factors that play into this differentiation, including the date of popular holidays, mass vacation periods and, of course, the weather itself.
Without a doubt, it’s very important to take the weather in Mexico Cancun into account before booking a flight and a hotel room.
Before going into a more nuanced description of the weather Cancun Mexico, let’s get something out of the way:
The Weather in Mexico Cancun is Almost Always Tropical Hot
As a matter of fact, the average temperature in the region is 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius).
What is more, a great majority of days in Cancun have clear blue skies and very little wind.
Normally, the exception to this rule only takes place when there is a full-on rainstorm.
On average, these Cancun rainstorms happen only 25 days a year, leaving 340 days of sunny and relaxing bliss.
Cancun Weather in November
Going more in-depth, it can be said that most people would say that November is the best month to visit Cancun.
That is because of the fact that Cancun weather in November is nice and warm without being too hot, and there is almost no chance of rainstorms taking place during this time.
Even more than that, November in Cancun comes right after the rainy season, meaning that everything looks green and beautiful during the entire month.
As if that wasn’t enough, despite the nice Cancun weather in November, the month is not high season yet in the area, resulting in more affordable prices all-around.
If November is too early in the year for you, though, don’t worry.
Cancun Weather in December
Cancun weather in December may not be as ideal as during the previous month but it’s still pretty much fantastic.
In fact, Cancun weather in December tends to be very sunny, with temperatures ranging from 75 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.
This weather basically maintains itself until April, when the high season ends.
Cancun Weather in January
Despite being at its lowest, Cancun weather in January is still warm, sunny and beautiful.
During this month, the sun goes down relatively early at around 6:20 or 6:30 PM, producing some of the most beautiful sunsets you will ever see in this part of the world.
At this time of the year, however, the city is at its fullest and its prices are at their highest.
For that reason, if you want to enjoy the Cancun weather in January, take your precautions and book with advance.
Cancun Weather in February
However, it should be noted that Cancun weather in February begins spiking up, and it reaches its peak during July or August.
Without a doubt, the best thing about Cancun weather in February, March and April is that it heats up the water beautifully.
Average Temperature to Expect When Visiting Cancun Mexican
Likely the best aspect of planning a vacation to Cancun is that the temperatures are remarkably consistent throughout all months of the year.
If you visit during the slightly cooler months from November to March, the average highs range in the 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Because of the sea breezes that come inland, visitors to the city should be very comfortable during the late fall and winter months.
The hottest months of the year are July and August, during which the average high temperatures top 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
The average low temperatures for the year are right around in the 70’s degrees Fahrenheit.
However, the months of December through February can become quite cool at night with low temps in the upper 60’s degrees.
You should also take humidity into account when planning your trip.
While July and August are considered to be the hottest months of the year, May and June have much more humidity, which you should keep in mind.
Weather Cancun Average Rainfall
If you want to travel to Cancun during the dry season, the dry season extends from November to April.
On the other hand, the wet season lasts from May to October.
During the dry season, February and March are particularly dry with total rainfall below two inches per month.
These months are also a great time to visit because of the cooler temperatures.
However, the lack of rain since November means that the jungle landscape around Cancun Mexican isn’t as green as you might expect.
If you want to visit at a relatively dry time of the year but still want to be able to take beautiful pictures of the scenery, November is likely the best time to visit.
The months with the most rain include September and October, which come with total rainfall amounts of 9-10 inches per month.
Weather in Cancun
However, the weather in Cancun is somewhat unique in that there can be very heavy rainfall for a couple of days and then nothing but a spotty shower for the next two weeks.
With this in mind, you should be able to visit Cancun Mexico at any time of the year without much issue.
Now that you have a clear understanding about what the weather is like in Cancun, you can start planning your trip accordingly.
Cancun is among the most beautiful cities in Mexico and is certain to be a great place to visit no matter when you travel there.
Tucson, Arizona is one of the most eclectic, beautiful and interesting cities in the United States. Located in the southwest, it boasts stunning mountain views, a vibrant downtown, university culture, and desert majesty.
While you are taking in the saguaro cactus and desert beauty, there’s also a lot of interesting things to do in Tucson.
If you are hoping to combine stellar sightseeing with history, arts, flora and fauna, Tucson is the place. There are museums, outdoor pursuits, wildlife, culture, science explorations and more.
Places to visit Tucson Arizona and why it’s one of America’s most interesting cities
Natural desert beauty
Tucson, known as Old Pueblo, is simply overflowing with natural beauty.
It is located in the desert and situated between many mountain ranges: Tortolita Mountains, Santa Catalina Mountains, Tucson Mountains, Rincon Mountains, Santa Rita Mountains, and the Sierrita Mountains.
Nature lovers and exercise enthusiasts will find there is lots to see and do. There is bird watching, hiking, climbing, horseback riding, and biking.
It’s important to note, spring, summer and fall can see very high temperatures. In addition, Tucson is a dry climate. It’s essential to always carry water. Also be sure to bring a hat and wear sunscreen.
Some places to explore in Tucson to enjoy nature and enjoy native desert plants, cactus, and animals are: Saguaro National Park, Sabino Canyon Recreation Center, Catalina State Park, Mount Lemmon, Redington Pass, Arizona-Sonoran Desert Museum, and Tucson Botanical Garden.
You will not run out of Tucson attractions.
Sabino Canyon Recreation Area
In northeast Tucson, there’s Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. Here you can take in the majestic views of the Santa Catalina Mountains which began forming 12 million years ago. This is part of Coronado National Forest.
There is a nature center, gift shop, tram ride with an interpretive guide, and hiking.
Hiking here is diverse; there are easy, moderate and challenging trails. There are 30+ miles of trails. You may see water in Sabino Creek.
Seven Falls is a popular hike here. It’s just over eight miles. Taking the tram up will save you four miles of hiking and is a great way to explore this area.
Tram ride at Sabino Canyon
You can’t drive through Sabino Canyon but there is a fantastic tram ride which takes you up the canyon. The tour guide will explain points of interest.
You can get out at any stop on the way up and the way down to explore further.
It’s important when you arrive to go right away to the ticket booth in order to get a reserved time. Bring cash; there’s a nominal fee to ride. You should be able to secure a spot, though you may have to wait an hour or more.
That’s okay because then you can go do the other things you want to do. Depending on the time of day you arrive and how hot it is, you may want to start with hiking. Or, if it’s already hot, you may want to spend the time in the nature center and gift shop.
Catalina State Park
Take in the gorgeous views at Catalina State Park. There is hiking, biking, camping, picnic areas, bird watching, and more.
Dogs are allowed except for the area which encompasses the Desert Bighorn Sheep Reintroduction Area. There are many shared-use trails, many for the beginner and for the more advanced.
Saguaro National Park
How many cities can boast they have a national park? Tucson can! Here too you can enjoy picnicking, hiking, biking, and learning about the native plants and wildlife living in the Sonoran Desert.
There are two park entrance locations. One is Rincon Mountain District East and the other is Tucson Mountain District West.
Whichever you choose, you will have diverse trails to choose from, from easy to moderate and advanced. You can also drive through parts of Saguaro National Park which makes it nice if you are visiting when it’s hot.
You may see wildlife here; it really depends on the time of day and how hot it is. We usually at least see birds and lizards.
Visitor’s Center at Saguaro National Park
Both locations have visitor’s centers, so whichever site you visit, be sure to take some time to visit. The one at Tucson Mountain District West’s is larger. However, they both have bookstores along with lots of information and displays about what you can see at Saguaro National Park. In addition, both have a 15-minute video which runs throughout the day.
Whichever location you choose to visit, each offers ranger-guided programs as well.
Like with all places in Tucson, be sure to bring extra water with you, especially while hiking.
Learn all about the Tucson desert at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
Containing an aquarium, botanical garden, zoo and art gallery, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum will give you an immersive look at the desert and the fascinating creatures in it.
You could easily spend an entire day wandering around this museum, so make sure that you have ample time to see it all.
There is a cafe as well as many indoor exhibits. Be sure to time when you see the outside animals to a cooler part of the day if you can; you will see more of them that way.
During the summer months (March – September) it opens at 7:30am. In the cooler months, it opens at 8:30am.
Cool Summer Nights
Throughout the year, it closes at 5pm except on Saturdays in June, July and August. Through the last Saturday in August, they have Cool Summer Nights on Saturday evenings.
There are talks and activities. Be sure to bring a flashlight to find scorpions and see them glow.
If you don’t have time to drive out to the Sonoran-Desert Museum, be sure to make a stop at Reid Park Zoo if you want to see animals. This is a fantastic place to spend your day.
Visiting the Desert Museum will give you a fantastic overview of why the Arizona desert is so important and how you can preserve and enjoy it. Be sure to look at the schedule for the day when you arrive if you are interesting in taking a docent-led free tour.
The Coronado National Forest is a gem for those wanting to escape the Tucson heat. You will see many cyclists riding their bikes along the way on Catalina Highway up and down the mountain, so take extra caution all around this area.
You will feel like you are in a different world as you drive up to the top of Mount Lemmon. This is a scenic drive like no other.
The diverse eco-systems along the way are spectacular. As you gain elevation, you leave the Sonoran Desert and experience evolving topography — it mimics the changes as if you were traveling from Mexico north to Canada.
There are lookout points along the way. There are several stops where you can get out and walk around, hike, or camp. Some interesting places along the way are General Hitchcock, Molino Basin, Rose Canyon and more.
Even if you don’t get out of your vehicle, it’s worth a trip to drive to the top of Mt. Lemmon. Have fun watching the temperature change as you drive.
You will be 9,159 feet at the top in Summerhaven. There are a few restaurants and a few little shops.
Cyclists often ride to the top of Mt Lemmon and stop at The Cookie Cabin for an extra-big cookie, pizza and more.
Mt Lemmon Ski Valley
You can ski as well as hike at Mount Lemmon Ski Valley. Be sure to check in advance for skiing conditions. Even in the summertime though you can ride the chair lift which is very fun as well as scenic.
Mt Lemmon Sky Observatory
An often overlooked opportunity on top is the Mt. Lemmon Sky Observatory. You will need to plan this in advance. Reserve online for their night sky viewing. It gets cold so be sure to bring warm clothing.
Colossal Cave Mountain Park
Technically in Vail, AZ, it’s very close to Tucson. It’s a place you will want to visit.
You can go for the day or plan to stay and camp.
When we went once on a Saturday in October, we were able to walk right up and get a spot for a cave tour. However, they do have an online reservation system which you may want to use to guarantee your spot.
There are different “levels” of tours, including several which are for advanced (adventurous!) enthusiasts. One is their day or night intermediate Ladder Tours (12 and older) and the other is their intermediate and their advanced Wild Cave Tours (16 and older).
We took did the Classic Cave Tour which was ideal for children and adults.
When you are out this way, be sure to visit Saguaro National Park’s entrance at Rincon Mountain East which is about 15 minutes away.
If you loved spending time in Colossal Cave and you have time, you may want to plan to check out Kartchner Caverns State Park in Bensen, AZ as well.
These two caves are about 45 minutes from each other. You won’t want to do both in one day because you will really want to spend enough time at each site. If you do plan to visit Kartchner, be sure to book one of their tours online in advance. During certain times of the year they fill up quickly.
Things to do with kids in Tucson
While there are many things for kids to do in Tucson, we wanted to highlight these two unique attractions:
Trail Dust Town
Here you will be able to enjoy an old western setting. Trail Dust Town is one of Tuscon’s iconic destinations. Step back in time and see how things were in the old west.
The historical buildings in Trail Dust Town are well preserved and give you a great snapshot into what life was like for thee adventurous souls that braved the wild west and the sprawling Arizona desert.
For dining, you can visit Millie’s Pancake Haus for breakfast or lunch. Pinnacle Peak is the dinner spot — be sure to have everyone wear an old tie (one you don’t care about). Check out the Silver Dollar Saloon as well.
Kids will love the attractions and rides in this quaint setting. Note these are later in the week, Wednesday through Sunday. There’s a train ride, a carousel ride, and Ferris wheel. There’s also a stunt show and family haunt experience (Thursday – Sunday). Kids will also have fun panning for gold and going to the shooting gallery.
On Fridays, there is Heirloom Farmer’s Market.
Trail Dust Town is less than 15 minutes by car from Sabino Canyon Recreation Area. You can spend the day at Sabino Canyon and then head to Trail Dust Town to eat and enjoy.
Children’s Museum Tucson
My kids love Children’s Museum Tucson. It’s fun to make a day of going here because you will be in the downtown area where there are lots of restaurants.
For us, we typically just bring snacks. You can enjoy them at a table. There aren’t many seats so we don’t linger. They also have a vending machine on site.
Like most children’s museums, there are different areas. No matter your child’s interest and age, they will find it interesting and interactive.
We went here until my kids were 11 and 12. They still enjoyed it and would still find it fun even though they are older now.
We always spent a long time — up to five hours — here. Though many locals seem like they cover it in just two hours. My kids always enjoyed all the interactive exhibits and enjoyed playing, especially since it wasn’t ever terribly crowded.
A few times we visited, they had their art area open for creating.
They also have a tiny gift area right in the main area where you pay.
In addition, there is a fun area outside for your kids to explore.
We’ve always found street parking — there are parking meters — within two blocks.
Science in Tucson
No matter what your interest, you can find science-related activities in Tucson.
Enjoy Pima Air and Space Museum, the Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium in the University of Arizona campus, the Tucson Children’s Museum in downtown Tucson, and Kitt Peak National Observatory, Mt. Lemmon SkyCenter Observatory with it’s after-dark program where you learn about astronomy.
Biosphere 2 is in Oracle, Arizona. This is likely within an hour of Tucson, depending where you are in the city. It’s worth a trip out to visit.
Pima Air and Space Museum
Everyone in your group will find something interesting here. You will be able to walk up to scores of airplanes inside and outside.
We’ve returned many times to Pima Air & Space when family and friends visit us in Tucson. We always learn new things and never tire of it. You can spend all day here or just a few hours, depending on how much time you have.
Interaction of nature with architecture
DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
DeGrazia Gallery combines nature with art through a series of desert installations.
They don’t have tours but you will enjoy walking through all the different rooms in what was Ted DeGrazia’s home.
It’s beautifully lit with amazing architecture. You will find it to be very peaceful as you enjoy looking at his paintings.
We’ve been three times. It used to be free but now they charge a nominal fee. Also, there used to be a small Mission in the Sun that was destroyed by a fire. I’m not sure if they are rebuilding it. It used to be a space where one could reflect, meditate, etc. Visitors would leave photos and tokens for deceased loved ones.
On the grounds we’ve also seen visiting artists. There is also the burial site for Ted and his wife.
You can easily spend the day wandering between the buildings and admiring the art. Many of the installations are incorporated right into the natural scenery, making the DeGrazia Gallery a must-see for any serious art connoisseur or nature lover.
There is a small gift shop in the main gallery building.
Tucson Museum of Art
This art museum is newer and modern and boasts cutting-edge installations.
I’ve been here twice for field trips. While it was wonderful, I wasn’t able to roam at my will. Both times we had docents. There is a beautiful main gallery. We also saw a nativity display by walking outside to another area.
U of A Museum of Art
There is also a Museum of Art at the University of Arizona campus. It features artwork from the Renaissance through the 2oth century.
The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures
Young and old will fall in love with the Mini Time Machine Miniature Museum from the minute you walk into the oversized doors.
My kids went here on field trips. We visited during the summer as well to explore and take advantage of their workshops. It’s a great way to spend a few hours while visiting Tucson.
You will be facinated by the intricate dollhouses and rooms here. There are anique works of art mixed with comtemporary exhibits. Many are scaled to the inch or quarter inch.
You can sign up for a docent-led tour and/or wander at your own leisure. There is a tiny gift shop and plenty of free parking.
Other wonders in Tucson
This jewel of Arizona isn’t just famous for its amazing natural wonders.
There are some incredible places that make it totally unique and a place that you have to put on your bucket list.
Tucson Botanical Gardens
This heavenly 5.5-acre spot of land connects you with the beauty of the natural world through expertly presented flowers and plants.
Spend the day wandering through the blooms, and learn about the varieties of cactus, native plants and trees.
These are 16 beautifully maintained gardens. Be sure to walk through the Butterfly Garden. They have garden tours, special events, classes, a gift shop, and a cafe.
We visited when they had a sculpture exhibit which was interesting to see among the gardens.
Tucson Botanical Garden opens at 7:30am so even if you visit Tucson during the hot months, you can enjoy it.
Mission San Xavier del Bac
Visit this historic Spanish Catholic mission on the Tohono O’odham Nation Indian Reserve.
You can take a docent-led tour Monday – Saturday mornings. Learn about San Xavier Mission and the religious, artistic, cultural, and historic significance to the state of Arizona.
You will be stunned by the scope of the building and how well it was designed.
There is a small gift shop. You are welcome to attend mass as well.
This is just 10 miles south of downtown Tucson. You can explore the mission and then head downtown to eat and to enjoy the people watching, murals, and diverse restaurants and breweries.
Agua Caliente Park
Anyone who loves bird watching will want to check out peaceful and beautiful Agua Caliente Park. Bird watchers come here to see migratory birds as well as year-round birds.
Depending on when you visit, the small nature center and gift shop may be open. There are sometimes special talks as well.
You can plan to picnic and walk around the marked paths. It’s a quiet, beautiful spot out in nature.
Bike riding in Tucson
You will see cyclists meeting up at Le Buzz coffee house at Tanque Verde Rd and Catalina Highway. Cyclists will ride up Catalina Highway up to Mt Lemmon.
Other areas you will see cyclists include on Speedway near the entrance to Saguaro National Park.
El Tour de Tucson is an annual bike ride which attracts cyclists from around the world. There are different distances, from 25 miles to 100 miles along with various fun rides up to 10 miles.
Tucson Atmosphere and Culture
Tucson is known for its eclectic atmosphere and fun culture.
There is always something happening in this amazing city, including gem and mineral shows, book fairs, music and arts festivals and so much more.
There are always parades going on also, with the St. Patrick’s Day parade attracting folks who want a little luck of the Irish from all across the world.
University of Arizona
The University of Arizona is in Tucson. This adds yet another level of fun, entertainment, culture, arts and sports to Tucson.
Take in a sporting event such as football, basketball or baseball game at U of A. It’s fun to walk around campus, visit the lively restaurants, and check out the bookstores.
There are musical and theatrical performances and other events as well.
Restaurants in Tucson
This amazing metropolis is known for it’s thriving food culture also.
This bustling metropolis puts a new spin on comfort food, like its ranch fries that are deep-fried, crinkle-cut fries liberally sauced with mayonnaise and bacon bits.
Be sure to try a Sonoran hot dog!
There are local breweries downtown as well as throughout Tucson. Be sure to check out downtown Tucson as well as the famous 4th Avenue.
Eegee’s is a local a sandwich shop with many locations throughout Tucson.
There is a substantial Mexican influence in this city also, with many of the dishes echoing Mexican tastes and styles.
Since this city is home to a local college, the vibe is young, friendly and open-minded. You won’t have to walk very far to find a local coffee shop or bar in this amazing city.
More things to do in Tucson
If you love books, music, musical instruments, games, and local stores, you must make a trip to Bookman’s Entertainment. The one we’ve been to is at Speedway and Wilmot and it’s fantastic.
There’s a mix of new and used items here…. You never know what you’ll find. In addition, Bookman’s is very generous in the community, always donating to my children’s schools.
As mentioned above, Tucson is lucky to have the University of Arizona’s sports teams. There’s a wonderful fan base of locals and transplants who have fun supporting the Wildcats.
Tucson Roadrunners – hockey team
Tucson Sugar Skulls – arena football
Broadway in Tucson
This has been great for locals to support theater. It also might be nice to take in a show while you’re in town visiting Tucson.
Tucson is in the Sonoran Desert, in the southwestern part of the United States. It’s dry and hot. Winters are mild; plan to dress in layers. Monsoon season peaks in July and August; however, through the years, it’s been sporadic.
Summers in Tucson can be brutal, and even though this city enjoys a dry heat, when you are in the direct sun, the weather is oppressive especially if you are not used to it.
Winters are often the best time to visit this city since they tend to be mild and bearable. Plus, many people from northern states love coming to Arizona during the winter because it gives them a nice break from ice and snow.
Some winter months can be a little bit on the wet side, so make sure that you check the forecast before making your travel plans. There have been very dry winters and some that were quite wet.
The good thing is that if inclement weather happens, it usually passes fairly quickly and will not disturb your day too much.
Make sure that you always take plenty of layers with you when you are hiking on the trails. You don’t want to get caught in an impromptu rainstorm or find yourself knee-deep in the snow without any proper boots.
Visiting Tucson attractions
Tucson’s amazing atmosphere, gorgeous natural features, and global food scene put it on the map as one of the top places to visit in Arizona.
Although often overlooked for places like Phoenix, there’s a reason why Tucson is one of America’s — and one of the world’s — most beautiful cities.
Interesting things to do in Tucson
If you’ve never been to a desert, it may be different than you expect. Many visitors to Tucson are surprised it’s so green. And when the desert cactus bloom, it’s even more colorful.
Tucson is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts but know there is a lot to do here. There are plenty of ways to explore the great outdoors. Tucson residents and visitors enjoy hiking, horseback riding, climbing, and biking.
Yet, even if you aren’t as mobile or don’t want to be active, there is still a lot to do.
Tucson is a city is the perfect mix of old and new. No matter what your interests, you will not run out of things to do here. There are so many reasons Tucson makes for a unique destination.
Romantic Getaways in California is home to alluring mountain scenery, majestic sunsets and serene, palm tree-lined beaches – and also the ideal backdrop for a romantic getaway.
Romantic Getaways in California For Couples
From the idyllic island ambience of Santa Catalina to the breathtaking beauty of Napa Valley wine tours to the gorgeous beach towns of Santa Barbara, California is rife with romantic getaway spots.
Mesmerizing Santa Barbara
The palm-fringed coastline is home to the beautiful Santa Ynez Mountain and snuggled comfortably behind the foothills is Santa Barbara – also known as the American Riviera, given its resort-like atmosphere and scenic Mediterranean seaside.
The sandy, picture-perfect beaches and historic Spanish Mission will have romantics in sheer awe as they take in the Pacific Ocean’s calming waves crashing against the shore, coupled with unbelievable sunsets.
The sophisticated spas, Spanish-inspired building, boutiques, art galleries, cafes and restaurants, along with the impossibly beautiful natural environment are perfect for romantic dinners and shopping or outdoor activities like sailing, hiking, and biking.
Unspoiled Mendocino County
With abundant wildlife and flourishing redwood trees that can be found running along the craggy coastline, the only way to describe Mendocino County is peaceful and “unspoiled”.
Romantics will surely feel renewed and rejuvenated the moment they arrive at this perfect couples getaway spot.
Mendocino County is complete with its relaxing ‘hidden’ beaches, pure and pristine air, and an environment that’s beyond perfect for hiking and camping as well as outdoor sports like boating, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, and more.
And make sure you take your fishing gear for a stop at the 700-acre nature reserve called Lake Mendocino, which is truly is a sight to behold – and a perfect excuse to pop that bottle of wine, wouldn’t you say?
Dreamy Santa Catalina Island
Santa Catalina Island offers just the right stuff for the perfect romantic getaway: a scenic and dreamy island, secluded beaches and picturesque villages by the seaside.
The largest town on the island, Avalon, offers lovely modern resorts and historic hotels alike, along with palm-fringed beaches that can only be described as utterly stunning at first sight.
Let your inner enthusiast loose because there are plenty of spots to go swimming, snorkelling, and kayaking.
And overlooking peaceful coves and sandwiched right between two ports is the island’s western end, which gives off a vibe of paradise on earth…
Hilly Sonoma County
Drive an hour north of San Francisco and the vine-covered and pastoral landscape of rolling Sonoma hills come into view.
Couples have been vacationing in Sonoma County for decades, enjoy the relaxed pace of life and rejuvenating outdoor activities, including Napa Valley wine tours, that are also ideal for romantics as well as exciting hot-air balloon rides, hiking, and mountain biking, to name a few activities.
Sonoma County is also a great place for experiencing the freshest farm ingredients in the local gourmet cuisine and happens to have some of the top-rated restaurants anywhere in California.
Dramatic and Colorful Big Sur
Breathtaking, colorful, and beautiful in every sense of the word, Big Sur is one of the best escapes for romantics.
The magnificent ocean views and wild landscape truly captivate the senses.
Despite the fact that Big Sur is somewhat cut off from civilization, given its remote location and no cell phone coverage, it has fantastic spa resorts, gourmet restaurants, and luxurious hotels, not to mention the rustic-chic campsites and inns.
Perhaps one of the biggest attractions for romantics in Big Sur are the lush redwood forests found on the coastline which towers a good 1,200 feet above the Pacific Ocean.
Subliminal Lake Tahoe
Nestled comfortably at over 6,000 feet in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Lake Tahoe is a sight to behold, with its sublime alpine beauty.
The fresh and crisp air instantly invigorates the body while the lake’s mind numbing deep blue water urges the soul to relax and draw in the astonishing beauty.
It’s no wonder Lake Tahoe is such a popular spot for romantic getaways in California, especially since it’s nicely packed in winters, courtesy of all the outdoor activities couples engross themselves in: boating, skiing, biking, hiking, and camping.
Rustic-Chic Paso Robles
Travel 30 miles out from San Luis Obispo and you’ll arrive at the vine-covered hills of Paso Robles on the Central Coast.
This historic downtown is known for its old-time vibes and slow pace of life – with plenty of outdoor dining spots and tree-lined streets.
But that’s not all it’s known for – the spas offer some of the best wellness treatments and mineral water pools.
You’ll also find many boutique hotels and bed-in-breakfasts, which are charming to say the least.
Slow’n’Lazy Half Moon Bay
Half Moon Bay is a small and slow-paced coastal town surrounded by woodlands, small farms, and rolling hills.
Due to the immaculate sandy beaches and picturesque hiking trails, it’s a very popular destination for nature lovers and romantics alike.
Despite the windy and misty weather, the scenery is always inspiring and dramatic as you hike along the coastline at the local beach.
Boutiques and bed-and-breakfasts can be found every few miles while the Mill Rose Inn is one of the most romantic places a couple could stay: floral-print bedding, vintage-inspired décor, and sumptuous guest rooms.
Another gorgeously romantic town that lies along the coast is the charming and alluring village of Cambria, with its romantic beach getaways and blissful seaside views.
The local Moonstone Beach which stretches for miles on end is the perfect idyllic spot for a romantic stroll, while Cambria’s East Village is known for its beautifully kept buildings that date well back to the 1800’s.
Romantic Wine Tours
There’s something innately romantic about taking wine tours in the beautiful Napa Valley in Sonoma County – one of the best romantic getaway spots that’s just a few hours’ drive from San Francisco.
Known for some of the most romantic hotels around as well as a tantalizing local cuisine, Napa Valley brings in plenty of couples from all over California, thanks to its picture-perfect wineries and unforgettable Napa Valley wine tours.
How To Find The Best All Inclusive Vacations
Free Things To Do In Los Angeles – When we think of Los Angeles, we generally see long stretches of beach meeting urban sprawl, sunny skies, famous people and a big Hollywood sign.
The city is full of a great sites and attractions, restaurants with all types of cuisine, and it is the world capital of film entertainment.
Despite a reputation of being expensive, there are lots of things you can do for free – check out the stuff below for some ideas…5 Free Things To Do In Los Angeles
Free Things To Do In Los Angeles
Hollywood Walk of Fame
One of the most popular things to do in LA is to visit Hollywood’s walk of fame.
15 city blocks make up the black sidewalk within which the pinkish stars are embedded.
This is the best way to appreciate the talents that have brought us film, television and music for many decades.
Some 10 million people visit the Walk of Fame a year, not counting the locals who walk over the stars daily.
You will find some 2,400 stars, many of which have names you might not recognize.
But don’t worry; there are tons that you will recognize, from Frank Sinatra and Charles Chaplin to Matt Damon, Mickey Mouse and Michael Jackson.
Located atop the hill park of the same name, the observatory is a great place to check out for all ages, but especially for kids. Inside you’ll not only find a free astronomy museum, but also a giant telescope.
The telescope is called Zeiss, and in the evenings they offer the option to look through the telescope.
There’s really nothing like seeing the stars through some of the thickest smog in the country!
California Science Center
If the observatory sparked your interest, head over to the California Science Center, another superb place for people of all ages.
The place is very interactive, which makes it popular for families with small kids, but adults who are not afraid of letting their inner child come out will have a good time as well.
It’s one of the best science museums in the United States, and the exhibits change regularly to provide fresh reasons to return.
There is also a large 7-story IMAX theatre inside, though you’ll have to pay to enter.
Finally, and without further ado, the Venice Beach boardwalk is a must-see and free attraction.
The vibe the neighborhood gives is comfortable and different, and the roller-skating bathing suited bodies make for a distinctly Southern California atmosphere.
You simply can’t see LA without checking out Venice Beach.
The Getty Center
If fine art is your cup of tea, then head to one of the most involved galleries in the world, The Getty Center.
The building itself is beautiful to look at, and inside you’ll find plenty of priceless works of art.
The collection is quite impressive, with works from Van Gogh and Monet, and the gardens are wonderful to stroll around in.
This place also has concerts on some nights, so if you plan to visit it’s always worth checking out if there is any event happening.
Another good reason to visit is the spectacular view you get from there, overlooking LA and the ocean.
On a side note, another way to get a good view is to hike to the Hollywood sign, which might take a bit more effort, but it’s also free, and totally worth it.
Los Angeles has many beaches – in fact, if you have to choose, there are almost too many to choose from.
If you are planning to visit and don’t know where to get started – here are five beaches to check out:
Point Dume State Beach
Have you seen Planet of the Apes or The Big Lebowski?
Well, both of them were filmed here at Point Dume State Beach.
It is uniquely sheltered between sand dunes and the ocean, and from the top of the sand, you can enjoy some great views.
In fact, the first piece of land directly south of its tip is Antartica.
Especially if you like swimming, scuba diving, tide pooling, rock climbing or whale-watching (from December to March), you will find delight at Point Dume State Beach – it’s a good destination for all of them.
The fact that it is further out from the LA metro area also means that it is usually less crowded than many of the other Malibu beaches.
This beach is what its name already says it is: a paradise cove.
A private beach in the 28,000 block of the Pacific Coast Highway, Paradise Cove charges you $25 to park and $5 per person if you walk in.
If you dine at the Paradise Cove Restaurant, you automatically get validated for four hours.
But all this exclusivity doesn’t mean that it doesn’t get crowded; quite the contrary, be sure to arrive before noon on weekends because it fills up fast.
The Strand Manhattan Beach
If your time is limited, head to The Strand.
It’s an easy drive from the city and its strip comes with some serious real estate.
When you stay at one of these impressive homes, you can stare out into the Pacific (while thinking about Keanu Reeves in the surf board-buying scene from Point Break, which was shot nearby).
The paved pathway is also an ideal place to walk, run, jog, rollerblade or bike.
Another beach that is what its name entails.
It is uniquely situated in Leo Carrillo State Park.
Here, you can grill a relaxing BBQ after a day of surfing, the waves are pretty consistent and great for all levels.
All of this against a stunning backdrop; giant sycamores shade the main campgrounds throughout the park and there’s plenty of tide pools, coastal caves and reefs for exploring, too.