15 Cheaper Alternatives to the Most Overpriced Tourist Attractions
Check out these affordable or less-trafficked Spring Break alternatives to those crowded and pricey bucket list destinations.
Sub Guatemala’s Lake Atitlán for Italy’s Lake Como
Courtesy Casa Palopo
It’s hard to replace Lake Como with anything, really, but for many, a trip to Lake Atitlán in Guatemala may be more feasible if time is limited. Dotted with a dozen colorful Mayan villages along its shores and in the shadow of three majestic volcanoes, the natural scenery surrounding the lake is reminiscent of Italy’s most famous lake. Book a night at Casa Palopó (the only Relais & Chateaux property in the country) where the staff can set up sailing excursions and other outdoor activities. Expert tip: If you’re headed abroad and worried about exchanges rates and currency fluctuations, check out the Travelex MoneyCard. You can pre-load it with foreign currency erasing any need for exchanging cash at the airport. The MoneyCard allows you to lock in one rate—a great deal for international travelers since credit cards can often charge foreign exchange fees.
Koh Samui is often less crowded than Phuket
Courtesy Banyan Tree Samui
Thailand’s most famous islands are a favorite of vacationers from around the world. While it may not be a notable savings, Koh Samui has sections of the island where resorts are so secluded it can feel like a private island. The Banyan Tree Samui is spread along a hillside cove in a way that creates a private beach free from trinket hawkers and noisy tourist clubs. And who wouldn’t want to snap a picture of this view from their own infinity pool? Here are 13 European islands you never thought to visit.
Get to these over-the-water bungalows with less jet lag
Courtesy Sandals Resorts
Forget long, expensive flights to the Maldives or French Polynesia. There are a few over-the-water villas and bungalows in the Caribbean that are just as beautiful. You can slumber while perched over turquoise water at Sandals Royal Caribbean in Jamaica and Sandals South Coast and Sandals Grande St. Lucian in St. Lucia. Lounge on your private terrace, or dive directly into the sea for impromptu water sports.
Been to the Grand Canyon? Try Crater Lake National Park
Courtesy Travel Southern Oregon
As the deepest and bluest lake in North America, Crater Lake is surrounded by cliffs nearly 2,000 feet high with a beautiful island at its center. Located in southern Oregon, it’s the perfect place to enjoy the outdoors whether hiking in summer or cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in winter. Pack your picnic basket and explore this calm, majestic landscape with a violent volcanic past. These 10 national parks are so far off the beaten path they’re practically secret.
Avoid jet lag with Québec City instead of Paris
Courtesy Paul Shio
Typical French charm awaits in historic Québec City in the Canadian province of Québec. Here, visitors are wooed with traditional architecture, street side cafes, trendy boutiques, and of course, all things French. But, Québec offers its own unique twist that makes it extra special with a burgeoning culinary scene and numerous art galleries. Be sure to sample a steaming plate of poutine, which consists of french fries drizzled with gravy, cheese curd and a variety of delicious toppings. The region even produces some notable wines!
Head north to Alaska instead of south to Antarctica
Courtesy Regent Seven Seas Navigator in Alaska
Antarctic adventures are pricey, but the scenery and stimulating lectures aboard most voyages are worth it. Those sailings typically run during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer (November-January). Until then, hop aboard Regent Seven Seas’ Artful Travelers voyage to Alaska instead. Majestic glaciers, mountains, and wildlife pair perfectly with the special programming from Artful Travelers, which welcomes aboard speakers, performers, and directors from the world of public broadcasting. Dine with scientists and international experts while soaking in the sights and sounds of a frozen wonderland closer to home for half the price. Here are 14 cruises you should only take in winter.
Get your safari Stateside
Courtesy San Diego Zoo Safari Park
If you’re strapped for time and can’t try the Sky Safari by Elewana Collection, why not check out the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park instead? You can ride along in the typical safari caravan vehicle to spot cheetah, giraffes, lions, and elephants. While the natural savannas of Africa are hard to match, the Zoo does a wonderful job of creating a natural environment that immerses visitors in the next best thing. The option to camp overnight in the park for a “roar and snore” safari is great for families.
Make a closer pilgrimage to reach these flowers
The Keukenhof Flower Gardens in the Netherlands are a pilgrimage for many flower lovers each spring, but if you can’t make it across the pond, there’s a great alternative. The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch in Carlsbad, California, come alive with more than 50 acres of blooming ranunculus (part of the buttercup family). Rows and rows of colors and a wonderful aroma form a majestic tapestry that is worth seeing in person.
Try the Finger Lakes instead of Napa Valley
Courtesy Casa Larga Vineyards
With more than 130 wineries, the Finger Lakes region of New York is a great alternative to those that have visited many of California’s wine-producing regions. The area counts distilleries, breweries, cideries, and vineyards among its many additional attractions. The natural backdrop is a huge draw for visitors that come to hike, bike past waterfalls, hot air balloon over the vineyards, and even skydive. Find out all the reasons fall is the best time to plan a vacation.
Hit the beaches of Miami’s neighbor, Fort Lauderdale
Courtesy Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach
Been there, done that with Miami Beach? Fort Lauderdale is just up the road and has its own burgeoning arts scene and pristine beaches. The arts district, known as FATVillage (similar to Miami’s Wynwood), is packed with galleries, murals, cafes, and shops worth exploring. The Bonnet House Museum & Gardens are worth exploring if you’ve already been to Miami’s Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Beachfront hotels like the Sonesta Fort Lauderdale Beach put visitors front and center for beach views.