Still haven't nailed down your summer vacation plans? Travel journalist Valarie D'Elia of has the formula for families looking for a last minute getaway who don't have a lot of time or money to spare. The “D’Elia’s Deals” include a breath of fresh-air mountain getaway, an unbelievably priced trip to the tropics, a history lesson that’s fun for the whole family and a visit to Europe in North America. Here are four, four-night or four-day packages for a family of four all for under$400 a night this summer. They are either four hours flying or driving time and within four sections of the country. (Two of the destinations, Jamaica and Canada, have benefited from a recent passport reprieve. Instead of being required to have a passport for summer travel to these destinations, air passengers will only need to present a government-issued photo identification and official proof they have applied for a passport.)1. Breckenridge, Colorado
Breckenridge, Colorado is a 148-year-old Victorian town in the heart of the Colorado Rockies. Summer offers 27 holes of golf at the Breckenridge Golf Club, the only Jack Nicklaus — designed municipal golf course in the country.PACKAGE: Summer in the Rockies Breckenridge Family Adventure PackageRESORT: Varies — Breckenridge, ColoradoPRICE: $1,456 Family of FourHOW: Within 2 hours drive from DenverINCLUDES:
- 4 nights lodging in a two-bedroom unit (properties vary)
- Half-day whitewater rafting trip on Browns Canyon, including
- Two hour ATV tour with Continental Divide ATV Tours
- Hour and a half horseback ride with Kingdom of Breckenridge Stables
- Authentic gold mine tour
BOOKING: 800-GO-BRECK gobreck.com
Things to do:
For music aficionados, Riverwalk Center welcomes the National Repertory Orchestra and the Breckenridge Music Festival Orchestra with classical concerts and ensemble performances. Other summer activities to complete a stay in Breckenridge include fly-fishing, hiking, rafting, horseback riding, historical walking/mining/museum tours, gallery visits, diverse cuisine and shopping in more than 200 stores around historic Main Street.
ATV Tours: Ride the Continental Divide with Colorado's highest ATV tour company and experience one of the most scenic and historic areas in the state. Views include some of Colorado’s highest mountains, high country streams and wildflowers.Horseback riding: Horseback riding in Breckenridge takes your family high into the mountains to an elevation of about 10,000 feet. You'll have a bird's eye view of the city of Breckenridge, nestled far below in the mountain valley. The winding trail is thickly forested and you'll cross mountain streams as you ride to the summit. Country Boy Mine Tours: Breckenridge’s history began with gold and silver mining, and signs of its rich mining history are all over the town. Country Boy Mine, an authentic gold mine lets you explore the original workings of the mine as you feel, hear and smell what it was like to be a Colorado miner over 100 years ago. Outside the mine, you can pan for gold, pet donkeysand examine original mining equipment, old photos and fun exhibits to revisit the past. Rafting: Browns Canyon of the Arkansas River located near Breckenridge, is one of America's most popular whitewater rafting destinations. The character of this section is challenging to seasoned rafters, yet forgiving enough for first time rafters and families. Most of the large rapids in Browns Canyon are followed by a calm pool of slow moving water allowing an opportunity to either catch a quick breath of fresh mountain air or take a picture of the unique granite rock formations set off against the clear blue Colorado sky.
2. Colonial WilliamsburgThis is the year to celebrate the 400th anniversary of America’s Roots with a visit to theHistoric Triangle — Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown — three places in Virginia that lay claim to where America was born. The first permanent English settlers arrived at Jamestown in 1607. At Williamsburg, the ideas of independence and revolution took form. The siege of Yorktown in 1781 was the last major battle of the American Revolution. In this Historic Triangle, Europeans, Indians, and Africans came together, and the result was the United States of America.PACKAGE: “Families Free” Flex VacationRESORT: Colonial Williamsburg, Governor’s Inn or Williamsburg LodgePRICE: $800-$1130WHO: Family of four (kids 6-17)HOW: Within 3 hour flight to Richmond and Norfolk Airports from NYC, Chicago, Atlanta, Miami — then an hour’s drive from either city. 150 miles south of Washington D.CINCLUDES:
- Four nights
- Tickets to seven areas attractions valid for length of stay:
- Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area and museums
BOOKING: 1-800-HISTORY, www.history.org
Sites to see:
Colonial Williamsburg: Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the restored 18th-century Revolutionary capital of Virginia — a town-sized living history museum, telling the inspirational stories of our nation’s founding men and women. Within the restored and reconstructed buildings, historic interpreters, attired as colonial men and women from slaves to shopkeepers to soldiers, relate stories of colonial Virginia society and culture — stories of our journey to become Americans. As Colonial Williamsburg interprets life in the time of the American Revolution for its guests, it also invites them to interact with history. Call 1-800-HISTORY or visit, ColonialWilliamsburg.com.
Historic Jamestowne (Colonial National Historical Park): Original site of the first permanent English settlement in the New World. Visit, historicjamestowne.orgJamestown Settlement:Jamestown Settlement explores the world of America’s first permanent English colony. Historical interpreters depict 1600s life at outdoor recreations of the colonists’ fort, the three ships that arrived from England in 1607, a Powhatan Indian village, and at a riverfront discovery area. Visitors are invited to grind corn, scrape out a canoe, play games, wear armor and engage in other activities that make the 17th century come alive. Visit, historyisfun.org.
Yorktown and Yorktown Battlefield (Colonial National Historical Park):Walk the fields of the last major battle of the American Revolutionary War where the surrender of Lord Cornwallis to General George Washington in 1781 secured independence for the United States of America.www.nps.gov/colo.
Yorktown Victory Center: Through gallery exhibits and living history, the Yorktown Victory Center portrays America's struggle for independence from the beginnings of colonial unrest to the formation of a new nation.
Busch Gardens: Situated on 100 action-packed acres, Busch Gardens Europe boasts more than 50 rides and attractions, ten main stage shows, a wide variety of cuisine and shops. Water Country USA: The mid-Atlantic’s largest water play park features a 1950s and ‘60ssurf-theme. Water Country USA offers more than 30 slides and water rides. Visit, watercountryusa.com
3. Québec City
Québec City and area is taste of Old Europe. Founded in the 17th century, it still resembles a French provincial town; its family-oriented residents have strong ties to their past. Ninety-five percent of the population speaks French. In 2008, Québec City will be celebrating the 400th anniversary of its founding.PACKAGE: Anchors Aweigh! RESORT: Hilton Vieux Québec, Quebec CityPRICE: $ 715.00WHO: Family of four, (kids up to 17 years old)HOW: Flying from Chicago to Montreal is 2 hours, flying Montreal to Quebec City 45 minutes. Non-stop flights from Boston and Newark in under an hour and a half to Quebec City.INCLUDES:
- 4 days/3nights
- Buffet breakfast
- Access to "Village Vacances Valcartier" (water park)
- Boat cruise Croisière Les Découvreurs AML (90 min.)
- 1 hour bike rental
BOOKING: 1-877-BONJOUR, quebecregion.com
Things to do:
For a slice of French culture without crossing the pond, head for Quebec City, Canada. For starters, concentrate on the old city or “Vieux-Quebec.” Perched on a promontory overlooking the St. Lawrence River, old Quebec City is characterized by slant-roofed granite houses, cobblestone lanes, and cafes spilling onto the streets. This is North America’s only “walled city” (it was once a military fortress) outside of Mexico. The Old City is divided into “Upper Town” (“Haute-Ville’)” and “Lower Town, (“Basse-Ville”). They are so named because one is high on the cliffs, the other down by the water and port. Connecting them is the “funicular” a vertical glass cable car that offers a panoramic view ofthe Saint-Lawrence river. Or, for the adventurous there are the famous “Escalier Casse-Cou” (“Breakneck Stairs”) which have been in place since the 17th century. The moniker is well earned. They are treacherous in the snow.
The best way to soak up French culture is simply to stroll. Upper Town is surrounded by thick ramparts and occupies the crest of Cap Diamant overlooking the St. Lawrence River. It includes many of the sites for which the city is famous, among them the Basilica of Notre-Dame, theQuébec Seminary and Museum (houses French culture museum), and the Terrasse Dufferin. The Terrasse Dufferin is a pedestrian promenade that attracts crowds in all seasons for its magnificent views of the river and the land to the south.
The Lower Town encompasses the restored Quartier du Petit-Champlain, including pedestrian-only rue du Petit-Champlain; Place Royale and the impressive Museum of Civilization.
Summer is chock full of festivals in Quebec City:
- Quebec Summer Festival takes place the first two weeks of July, featuring local and international musicians. Visit: infofestival.com, 1-888-992-5200
- Loto-Quebec Fireworks competitions last two weeks of July — first week of August. Giant international fireworks competition. Visit: Lesgrandsfeux.com, 1-800-923-3389
- New France Medieval Festival: First week of August, Historic re-enactments, plays, concerts, fashion shows highlighting early days in Old Quebec. Visit: nouvellefrance.qc.ca, 1-866-391-3383
Sites to see:
Place-Royale:This is the most spectacular of the city's many squares, with all the historic buildings fully restored to their splendor. This is a must for capturing French culture. Folk dances, impromptu concerts, and other festive gatherings are often held near the bust of Louis XIV in the center of the square. Excellent visuals. Grande-Allée: Known as Quebec's "Champs-Elysees," this boulevard passes the stately Parliament building as well as the numerous terraced bars and restaurants. It also skirts the Musée des Beaux-Arts and the Plains of Abraham, where one of the most important battles in the history of North America took place between the French and the British for control of the city. Petit-Champlain District: Narrow cobblestone pedestrian streets dotted with old houses and livened by street and commercial artists.
PACKAGE: “Simply Paradise” packageRESORT: The Ritz-Carlton, Rose Hall Montego Bay, JamaicaPRICE: $1137WHO: Family of four — kids 11 and under stay and eat freeINCLUDES:
- 4 days/3 nights
- Breakfast, lunch, dinner
- Water sports
HOW: Within 4 hours flight from NYC, ATL, Miami. 15 minutes from Montego Bay’s airport.BOOKING: (800) 241-3333 or ritzcarlton.com.
Ritz Carlton Rose Hall: Located in Jamaica's exclusive Rose Hall plantation area of Montego Bay, the 427-room AAA Five Diamond Resort offers the seclusion of a beachfront hideaway, complete with an 18-hole championship golf course, a full-service spa, a variety of water sports and recreational activities, as well as five dining outlets.