In honor of it almost being March, aka "spring break month" as I like to refer to it, today's post is my five favorite vacation places. I'm going to Cancun for some sun and definite fun (Cancun never disappoints on the fun), because I figure I should try to enjoy my spring break vacations as much as I can, before I graduate and "spring break" becomes a thing of the past (which will be a sad day, even though I am excited to start working and have a new life post-grad).
Regardless of having an actual "spring break" or not, vacations are always fun and usually very necessary. It is always good to travel and relax and enjoy the world and beauty around you. Obviously, I love Chicago and encourage everyone to visit at some point, but I also want to get away from time to time. Whether you travel alone or with a companion, vacations can be very theraputic.
The five places on today's five favorites list are places that I would recommend for a vacation, and they all differ in what they offer. Now, these are all places I've actually been to, so if you're surprised there are some places that aren't on my list, it may be because I haven't been (Las Vegas and St. Barts are a couple I'm working on this year).
However, I have done my fair share of traveling. There are still a ton of places I would like to visit, and luckily I think I will be able to knock them all out when I study abroad in Europe for a semester next spring.
Now I have to warn you, there are so many things I take into consideration for the makings of a great vacation, but I'm also a huge restaurant and nightlife addict. I love to find a variety good places, which you will see in upcoming posts (trust me). But alas, here are my five favorite vacation destinations, in no particular order, of course.
1) Budapest, Hungary. I’m guessing you probably weren’t expecting this one. Budapest is basically split into two towns, “Buda” and “Pest”. Buda is the older, more traditional part, where Pest is where a lot of the entertainment and shopping areas are located. What I loved about Budapest was that there were so many different things you could to there. You could see old historic buildings like the Buda Castle, the Chain Bridge and the Hungarian Parliament building, and then later go out to a super trendy restaurant (Hungarian food is great!) and party all night at a crazy European club. The shopping in Pest was awesome, with a lot of designer and high-end stores, and actually really reminded me of Michigan Avenue back home (shout out to my true love, Chicago). Other notable things to see/do: the Szechenyi thermal bath, the Hungarian State Opera House (I saw the Hungarian ballet preform the Nutcracker because I was there around Christmas, and they were divine), and the House of Terror (a museum that contains exhibits related to the communist and fascist dictatorial regimes in the 20th century in Hungary…this was SO cool – highly recommend). I loved it here, and I think it is a very interesting place to see and explore.
2) Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Ok, so I’ve been to Mexico (Cancun, Cabo, and Riviera Maya) like a million times. In fact, in 2012 I went to Mexico three different times, in one year alone. Almost every year for a week over New Years, my family and our good family friends (and whatever significant others any of us have at that certain time) go to Cabo. I know some people have trouble about feeling safe in Mexico, but I can assure you that it is completely safe. I love the sun and to get away to warm weather, and Cabo in the perfect place to do so. There is Cabo San Jose (the quieter more rustic and authentic part of town) and Cabo San Lucas (the crazier, more high-end part), which are maybe a 25-minute cab ride away from each other, with a strip of hotels in between. We always stay at a gorgeous fractional at the Westin Grand Regina, which is absolutely amazing, always. Whether you want to go ATVing, snorkeling off of a catamaran, or just hang by the beach or pool and drink mango daiquiris all day (my go-to day drink in Cabo), you are guaranteed to have a great time. There’s a wide variety of cuisine, between little authentic places and five-star restaurants, and the nightlife scene is always super fun (Mandala and El Squid Roe are a few of my favorites). Also, another added bonus is that Cabo is a major hotspot for celebrities, and I’ve seen and chatted with a few, myself: Stacy Keibler, Marcia Cross, Leonardo DiCaprio, (swoon), Christian Slater… I even literally ran into Luke Wilson at Cabo Wabo around 1 A.M. on New Year’s Eve last year. Basically, Cabo is a great, luxurious place to enjoy and relax in the sun, while also eating great food and having a good time.
3) Vail, Colorado. This one’s for all of my adventurous folk out there. Vail is a resort town in Colorado, and is great for any kind of outdoor activity. Since it’s March and still winter, it is a great time to go skiing, which Vail is definitely known for. The mountains are great, and you can make an entire day or week out of skiing and not get bored. There are many trails for hiking and biking, a botanical garden, and horseback riding as other outdoor alternatives too. All of those things are great and will be sure to keep you busy, but my favorite part about Vail was actually the town itself. It’s small and so cute, I just wanted to snuggle up inside of all the cafes and such with a vanilla latte, and take in the beauty of the outdoors and cuteness of the town, with the people I love. There are a range of tasty restaurants and some nightlife too, with live music (jazz, classical, etc.) which I adored. Vail is a great vacation to be active in many different ways, while still being able to relax in the end.
4) Prague, Czech Republic. Maybe I’m a bit biased because I’m 50 percent Czech (although neither my mother nor her parents have ever lived in the Czech Republic – they’re all American), but Prague is an absolutely stunning city. It was interesting because there was so little daylight (I went in December), so I found it hard to get out of bed in the mornings. But once I was up, I was ready because there is so much to see in Prague. We stayed in a gorgeous villa right by the Charles Bridge (a worthy attraction), so we had a great view. I loved how old and historic the city was, because we don’t have anything like it in America. There are so many things to see: the Prague Castle, the St. Vitus Cathedral, and the Prague Astronomical Clock just to name a few. My favorite part was all of the authentic little shops and cafes run by the local people, because you could really get a feel for the Czech culture. All of the cuisine was exquisite, and I love how they truly appreciate fine dining and enjoying your meals, which is known to be a European trait. The nightlife was vibrant and also typical of a European club scene, however there is a Red Light District, which is known for sex (brothels) and strip clubs. There really isn’t much to worry about it all, and I always felt secure and safe when I went out, it is just something to be aware of. Prague has so much to offer and is an astonishingly beautiful city, and I know many others will recommend vacationing in Prague to you as well.
5) Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Where are all of my golfers at? If you love to golf, Hilton Head is definitely the place to be. There are a plethora of beautiful courses on the island. I’m not a golfer (although it is on my list to become decent at – I know it’s hard), but I did play 18 holes on a really nice (probably too nice for my lack of experience) course. However, if golfing isn’t really your cup of tea, there’s still so much to do. There are gorgeous beaches on the Atlantic Ocean, a marina to walk around and see all of the beautiful yachts, seeing some of the live music performers, many tennis courts to play on and you can (and are encouraged to) bike everywhere. We rented a huge house with a pool in one of Hilton Head’s big neighborhoods (a lot of people do this) and I highly recommend it. For restaurants, there are a ton of cute places with a lot of seafood options (YUM!), and the famous Salty Dog restaurant is a HHI must. There a few places to go out and have drinks at night, but there isn’t a huge nightlife scene. Hilton Head is the ultimate relaxing vacation, but never boring.
Do you have any favorite destination spots? Any suggestions of places I should go? Have a great weekend everyone! And stay tuned... some great posts are coming up!