Family vacations create lasting memories of a slower pace of life, fun activities and new adventures. If your kids are young, it may be easier to drive to your weekend destination. Older kids can have fun exploring a new city, unique museums and historical sights. Be sure to leave plenty of time for family dinners, group activities and relaxation by the pool.
Grenada, known as Spice Island, remains one of the Caribbean’s under-the-radar gems, even though it’s got what every traveler wants: uncrowded beaches, preserved rain forests, and a lively local culture and cuisine. The island, which was spared from last fall’s brutal hurricane season, is poised to attract new luxury travelers when the Silversands Hotel opens in March 2018. The first major resort to open on Grand Anse Beach in 25 years, Silversands will offer 43 rooms and suites, nine villas, and the longest pool in the Caribbean. After a recent renovation, the beloved Calabash Luxury Boutique Hotel is now part of Relais & Châteaux, only the fifth hotel in the Caribbean to be invited to join the celebrated hotel group. Getting to the island is a cinch — JetBlue added daily service from New York City last year, and Grenada is now a port of call for 33 new cruise ships — and visitors will soon have even more options for high-end stays, with Kimpton Kawana Bay and the Levera Beach Resort both in the works. —Devorah Lev-Tov
On July 24, 2007, jetBlue reported that its second-quarter revenue increased to $730 million, compared to $612 in 2006. Second quarter net income grew to $21 million for the quarter, from $14 million the previous year. CEO David Barger said the airline will take delivery of three fewer planes this year and will sell three planes from their current fleet, "slowing capacity growth ... to strengthen our balance sheet and facilitate earnings growth", but will continue to add two to four new destinations each year.
This German town lays claim to not one but two of the world’s greatest opera houses. Most music lovers know about the acoustically perfect Bayreuth Festspielhaus, built in 1876 by composer Richard Wagner as the home for his summer music festival. But the city also contains the grandest Baroque theater in the world, the Margravial Opera House, built between 1744 and 1748 by Princess Wilhelmina of Prussia. Named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2012, the theater has been closed for repairs for the past six years. It reopens in April 2018 with a performance of Artaserse by the 18th-century German composer Johann Adolph Hasse (tickets go on sale in February). Bayreuth also makes an excellent starting point from which to explore the rest of the region, famous for its hundreds of Bavarian biergartens and vineyards producing internationally renowned Franconian wines. —Christopher Tkaczyk
Weekend on the Beach: Weekend trips that include relaxing on the beach are always a good idea. Visit the Florida Keys where you can check into one of the island resorts or explore fun attractions and restaurants in Key West. During the summer, many lake and ocean beaches are within driving distance on the East Coast, West Coast, the South and Midwest. During the warmer season it's easy to plan a day trip or an affordable overnight stay. In the winter, inexpensive vacation spots may be harder to find and you may have to take a plane to get to a tropical beach in South Florida, Hawaii or the Caribbean.
In July 2016, jetBlue announced commercial flights from the United States to Cuba will commence in late August. On August 31, 2016, JetBlue Flight 387 from Fort Lauderdale–Hollywood International Airport to Abel Santamaría Airport, in Santa Clara, became the first scheduled commercial flight between the United States and Cuba in 55 years. Only charter flights were allowed under previous rules, which required that passengers had to arrive more than 4 hours before the scheduled departure and often endure long lines for documentation checks, late flight arrivals, and pay high baggage fees.
Flight Denver - Chicago (DEN - ORD) $79+ Flight Houston - Chicago (HOU - ORD) $91+ Flight Houston - Chicago (IAH - ORD) $91+ Flight Boston - Chicago (BOS - ORD) $97+ Flight Dallas - Chicago (DFW - ORD) $97+ Flight Minneapolis - Chicago (MSP - ORD) $97+ Flight New York - Chicago (LGA - ORD) $97+ Flight Washington - Chicago (BWI - ORD) $101+ Flight Atlanta - Chicago (ATL - ORD) $108+
A picture-perfect trio of islands lapped by turquoise waters, the Maltese archipelago has all the charm of nearby Sicily with far fewer tourists. Valletta, the tiny nation’s capital and a UNESCO World Heritage site, feels like something plucked straight from Westeros. The historic walled city dates back to 1565, and has a vibe that’s Mediterranean with a North African twist. This underrated destination is finally stepping into the global limelight as a 2018 European Capital of Culture. To celebrate the occasion, the city has planned more than 140 projects and 400 events throughout the year. The festivities begin on January 20, with contemporary dance, a choral symphony, and acrobatic performances across the city’s four main squares. Should you miss the grand opening, swing by in February for Carnival, or in June for the Malta International Arts Festival and the Valletta Film Festival. —Diana Hubbell
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Vacation Packages: More hotels, resorts and inns offer romantic, family, wedding, honeymoon and other packages than people realize. If your heart is set on a particular getaway, check their web site for current offers. In some cases, the property will offer a romantic package that you can add on to the cost of your stay, such as flowers or a gift that can be prepared ahead of time. In other cases, the romantic package will include the room rate as well. When you are researching the best places to vacation, it pays to check for packages.