Summer isn’t officially here for five more days, but chances are you’ve started to think about vacation options. If you are kid-less, you are free to travel anytime, but those with children are mostly bound to school schedules, and that means your largest stretch of time off is summer.
It’s without modesty that I say that Californians are the luckiest of all citizens. Our state has everything — mountains, foothills, desert, beaches, old-growth forests and more — and we don’t have to go far to see any of it. To help decide in which direction you want to head, visit www.visitcalifornia.com and order a free California Visitors Guide. It contains 607 tips, tricks and ideas to help you plan the perfect in-state vacation.
One new attraction can be found within a two-hour drive of North County: the Tarzan Boat at Big Bear Lake’s Fawn Harbor Marina. The owners describe it as a “mobile floating water park that features a variety of ways to get your kicks on the lake.” That translates to a 34-foot boat with 12-foot-high platforms, trampolines, a rope swing and a tube slide. Visit www.FawnHarbor.com. Big Bear has plenty of other summer attractions, too. Visit www.BigBearGuide.com.
Our southwest deserts may get really hot in the summer, but so are the deals at desert resorts. At the historic, casually elegant La Casa del Zorro in Borrego Springs, casitas rent for $999 for six days, well below the in-season price. And the price of individual luxury rooms on the 42-acre property are just over $100 a night. Borrego Springs is a designated dark-sky community, which means star-gazing is the best anywhere. A “star party” is scheduled for Aug. 11 and 12 when the Perseid meteor shower occurs. Visit www.lacasadelzorro.com.
There are plenty of summer specials at hotels in the Arizona desert, too.
Scottsdale notables include the Hermosa Inn, a boutique hideaway that offers rooms starting at $139 per night. Add to this two drink vouchers, a $25 resort credit, pool treats and a room upgrade upon check-in, based upon availability. The second deal is offered by the Omni Scottsdale Resort & Spa. The “Slumber & Save” package has rooms at $129 per night (minimum stay two nights). This includes a 4 p.m. checkout, a $50 poolside credit, complimentary parking and a reduced resort fee. Weekend events at the Omni include poolside fashion shows, boutique trunk shows, culinary adventures, and after-hours spa experiences.
Should you decide on a staycation, know that San Diego ranks third in a list of best cities for staycations, according to personal-finance website WalletHub. (Oddly, Chula Vista ranks dead last, but we who live here can see the flawed reasoning with this.) The website’s number crunchers compared 150 of the country’s largest cities in categories such as the cost of a movie ticket and house-cleaning services, and the number of spas per capita. Orlando, which has the most ice cream and frozen yogurt shops per capita (yes!), and Chicago, which has more tennis courts per capita, came in first and second, respectively. To see the entire list, visit https://wallethub.com/edu/best-cities-for-staycations/4341/.
Lastly, two chances to win trips of a lifetime.
For both U.S. and Canadian residents from tour operator Exodus Travels comes this: Win one trip every year for a lifetime — or 25 years, whichever comes first. Check out www.WinATripForLife.com. And for U.S. residents only: A seven-day safari adventure, courtesy of Kenya Tourism and Gate 1 Travel, and offered through Lonely Planet. Includes round-trip airfare from NYC, first-class resorts, photo safaris and more. Visit www.lonelyplanet.com/kenya-sweepstakes/.
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E’Louise Ondash is a veteran, award-winning journalist who was an investigative reporter, feature writer and columnist for the Times Advocate and the North County Times. She has written travel features for The Coast News since 2003.