Tag Archives: summer vacation

beach lounges under a palapa on the beach looking out to the blue ocean with boats in the water at the Mandarin Oriental hotel Bodrum Turkey

Dispatch from Turkey: What Travelers Can Expect in Istanbul and Beyond

beach lounges under a palapa on the beach looking out to the blue ocean with boats in the water at the Mandarin Oriental hotel Bodrum Turkey
Turkey's seaside resort of Bodrum is filling in for travelers' European summer vacation plans. Photo: Mandarin Oriental Bodrum
exterior of Hagia Sophia mosque and surrounding park in Istanbul—with no crowds.
"At Hagia Sophia, the upstairs is closed, but now is a really good time to get in there because it’s not crowded and the renovation hasn’t started," Karen says. Photo: Sea Song Tours
Istanbul's Blue Mosque and the surrounding park without any tourists
Istanbul's Blue Mosque and the surrounding park are usually packed with tourists. Photo: Sea Song Tours
view over beach from restaurant at Mandarin Oriental hotel Bodrum Turkey
Travelers are extremely interested in beach escapes and private yacht or gulet trips. Photo: Mandarin Oriental Bodrum
Ephesus, Turkey
The maximum number of people allowed into Ephesus now is 650 at a time. Pre-pandemic, it could be 50,000.


Karen Fedorko Sefer lives in Istanbul, and she’s been there throughout the whole pandemic. When Turkey reopened its borders in June 2020, Karen closely monitored the situation to keep on top of how it was affecting travelers. In the months that followed, she organized trips for several Americans and WendyPerrin.com readers, and was able to deliver a safe and high-quality experience (you can read about one WOW trip here). Then in December, in order to curb rising coronavirus cases, the country reinstated some safety precautions, including a pause on indoor dining and weekend curfews for residents (not tourists). The good news is that while the country is maintaining vigilance, some precautions were recently eased for Covid-tested travelers—and they are eager to return.

We’ve talked to Karen repeatedly throughout the past year to get her first-hand insight into what it’s like to travel in Turkey, what visitors can expect to see and do, and how their trips will or won’t be affected by pandemic measures. This week, she gave us the latest.

*This article is part of a series in which we will be following the pioneers on Wendy’s WOW List of Trusted Travel Experts as they road-test their reopened destinations anew. Remember, these are the trip planners with the highest standards in the world—they’ve earned these stellar reviews—so we’ll ask them how local safety protocols measure up; the savviest ways to sightsee and explore; and the safest places to stay, eat, and get health care if necessary. In other words, we’ll follow them as they do all the in-country legwork so that you don’t have to.

What restrictions are in place now?

None when it comes to seeing the sights and touring. Citizens are locked down on the weekends (from Friday 9pm to Monday 5am) and, because of that, all the shops (besides grocery stores)—including the Grand Bazaar and the Spice Bazaar—are closed on weekends. But all other sights are open, and tourists do not have to stay in.

Who is coming to Turkey now?

People who have been vaccinated. Summer bookings are strong already, because we’re one of the few countries in the Mediterranean basin that is going to be open.

Where are they going?

The Bodrum seaside resort area was at 100% occupancy in July, August and September of last year, and the same is anticipated for this summer. Private yachts are also in high demand: We’ve booked a lot of gulet trips for this summer.

When Turkey first re-opened to tourism in June 2020, who was coming then, and what did they want?

I welcomed our first guests on July 20, and most were younger travelers. We booked a lot of last-minute gulets and yachts because families and friends living in separate countries wanted to come together and chose Turkey because it was one of the few places that was open to people from many countries. And since Turkey was doing Covid tests at the airport, we also had people staying over in Istanbul for a few days, getting their test, then flying on to the Maldives—for example, honeymooners.

A year later, have the types of trips they want changed?

Yes. Before, families and friends just wanted to come together and have a reunion. Now, they are vaccinated and looking for a summer beach vacation. Normally Americans don’t come to Turkey for the beach. They usually drive around the country sightseeing. They go to Bodrum for the historical sights, like the Bodrum Castle and Myndos Gate. But now they want beach and water and boating activities. Normally, the people who come to Turkey in summer are Europeans or Russians because they’re close by. Now, Americans who would have gone to the beach in other Mediterranean countries are coming to Turkey instead.

People are also coming for longer periods of time—usually 10 to 14 days. We have much larger bookings, and people are staying longer.

How does the popularity of gulet and yacht charters compare to pre-Covid?

Gulets are more popular than before, and it’s either groups of friends, groups of couples, or multigenerational families who book them. They like the idea of being on an isolated vacation together. And then they spend a couple of days before or after in Bodrum, where we have some of the most luxe hotels in the world.

What’s so special about Bodrum?

It’s the St. Tropez of Turkey. The people who usually go to St. Tropez, Mykonos, Capri, they’re coming here. There’s no mass tourism in Bodrum. And there are no cruise ships coming, so there are no cruise crowds.

If Bodrum is fully booked, how do they make it feel safe?

Everyone has to wear masks anywhere outdoors in Turkey, and social distancing is mandatory. In Istanbul, there are so many people that it can be hard to stay a meter apart. But at the beach, it’s easy. The beaches are allowed only a certain number of sunbeds, and the sunbeds are each one meter away from the next. So if the beach is full, you go to the pool or rent a cabana. And not everybody’s at the beach; they could be at the spa, on a yacht for the day, or in town. Plus, hotels in Bodrum are not big: The Mandarin-Oriental has 133 rooms, the Edition has 108 rooms, the Amanruya has only 36.

What else should travelers know about a beach vacation in Turkey?

People ask me, “Where can I go in Turkey where there’s a beach I can walk for miles?” I explain that in Turkey we don’t have a lot of long, sandy beaches (except in Antalya, but it’s not super-high-end there). We do have two hotels in Bodrum with sandy beaches (they brought in the sand from Egypt because Turkey has pebble beaches). Then people want to know how long the beach is in Bodrum, so I show them a picture so they can see where they’d be walking or how private it might be. They’re not familiar with Turkey at all—they’re used to going to Italy every year—and they’re trying to find a beach spot that’s similar to the one they like in Italy.

One traveler said, “We need to know the best places where we can get fried calamari because we always love that in Italy and we want to be able to get it in Turkey.” Well, of course they can get it in Turkey! Our calamari here is amazing. It’s fresh from the Aegean Sea! But they’re thinking about what they love about their summer vacation and how to get it in Turkey.

What does Istanbul look and feel like now? What has changed?

It’s business as usual, except that everyone is wearing masks. Hotels and sights are open, but there are restaurant restrictions (see below). Historic landmarks limit the number of visitors (it varies by site), but we offer a “fast track” to get our travelers to the front of the line.

At Topkapi Palace, it’s easier to move around, and the indoor restaurant has gotten much better: It used to be big buffets, but it’s now a la carte. They have a beautiful view of the Bosphorus, fewer tables, and the quality of the experience has really gone up.

At Hagia Sophia, the upstairs is closed, but now is a really good time to get in there because it’s not crowded and the renovation hasn’t started. The underground cistern is closed for renovation, but we have some other cisterns we are taking people to.

How about Ephesus? What’s it like with no cruise crowds there?

At Ephesus now, the maximum capacity is 650 people at one time, and generally there haven’t been more than 200. In normal times, there could be 50,000 people there at once! Everybody is just loving the fact that they’re the only ones there.

Can travelers still have special private experiences at historic sites, like you used to arrange for them?

We’re not permitted to open Hagia Sophia after-hours anymore, since it was turned back into a mosque. But we’ve made an agreement with an underground cistern and we are doing after-hour visits there. We can still do dinners and concerts and cocktails inside Ephesus, and we just worked out with the Ephesus museum to bring our guests in first thing in the morning before anybody gets there. We’re also working now with Virgin Mary’s house to try to bring people into the private chapel.

We still arrange special experiences like stopping in a village house in Cappadocia, or a great new cooking class in Istanbul, or day trips to wineries and new museums. Our savvy guides pull off a tremendous number of spontaneous experiences too.

What are the safety protocols for hotels?

They take your temperature upon arrival. If you have a fever, they won’t allow you to enter. The rooms are sanitized, and you must wear a mask in all common areas. When you sit down for dinner, you can take it off, but in all other cases, when you’re walking around in the hotel, you have to wear it.

What are the restaurant restrictions?

Restaurants are currently open from 7am to 7pm for everyone—travelers and citizens. After 7pm, the restaurants are only allowed to do takeout. Hotel restaurants are allowed to have outside guests visit from 7am to 7pm; after 7pm only hotel guests can dine in them. During Ramadan, however—which is from April 13 to May 14—the government has decided that all restaurants will be closed for in-person dining and offer only takeout. For travelers who are touring at that time, we will get lunch boxes from the hotel or takeout from the restaurants and find a nice outdoor spot for lunch.

When the restaurants are open, they are capped at 50% capacity, and there must be 1.5 meters between tables. You have to wear your mask into the restaurant and can take it off only when you sit. All of the waiters wear masks, and some are wearing face shields. The menus are all by QR code. It’s actually quite pleasant, because guests are not packed in.

Is now a good time to visit Turkey?

All the sights are open, the spring weather is beautiful, and after Ramadan ends on May 14 the restaurants will be open again, and it should be possible to eat virtually every meal outdoors. Plus, the U.S. dollar is really strong against the Turkish lira.

Summer will be a good opportunity to experience Turkey without the crowds because the mass-tourism groups with the big buses won’t be here. Pre-Covid it was packed, packed, packed in summertime: It would be an hour and a half to get into a sight if you didn’t have the fast track, and 50,000 people would be at Ephesus from the cruise ships. But now only 650 are allowed in there at once, and other sights are capped too.

During Covid, I’ve had people go to the ancient Roman site of Pergamon, and they are the only people there. You couldn’t get that experience before.

What safety steps are you taking for your travelers and staff?

In cars, the guide and driver sit in front of Plexiglas and speak to the travelers in the back seat via a microphone. We’re monitoring all the hotels; they must be certified for safety by the government and can’t open if they’re not inspected and approved to be following all protocols the government has put in place. Pools and spas are open in some hotels; they also have to be certified by the government so they’re not all open.

We have a chart where we keep track of what’s been certified and what hasn’t, and that informs our decisions about where to recommend. We monitor traveler feedback because they are telling us every detail about hotels and restaurants.

We are doing PCR tests on a regular basis for all our private guides, private drivers, and other staff, and the government has set up a system where all certified tourism staff can be vaccinated by the summer.

What about testing and vaccines for your travelers?

You must have a negative PCR test to get on the plane to Turkey, and you have to fill out the health form online. There are no protocols for vaccinated arrivals yet; they have to follow the same rules. Then when travelers are getting ready to go back to the U.S., we can handle getting their PCR test here, either at a private hospital or at the hotel, for between $35 and $50 dollars per person. We usually have the health workers come first thing in the morning before a guest’s tour, and when they come back to the hotel after their tour, the results are on their phone—same day.


We’re Here to Help

Right now is a remarkable opportunity for global travelers who are vaccinated. When your friends say that travel is problematic as a result of the pandemic—rental cars aren’t available, service even at 5-star hotels is shoddy—the problem is they’re not planning their trips right! Travel can be spectacular now if you choose the right destination, know the savviest local fixers, and approach them the optimal way. Check out these recent trip reviews to see the difference that Wendy’s WOW approach to trip planning makes. And if you’re looking for a similarly carefree travel experience, contact us at Ask Wendy.

Ice Cream Treats You’ll Want to Plan Your Next Vacation Around

I like ice cream. Well, any dessert, really. It’s one of the hobbies I have when I travel: sampling desserts and candies as I investigate new places. I tell myself it’s sort of an anthropological study: Differences in flavors and dining habits say a lot about a culture, right? But if I’m honest, the truth is that I just want to eat sweets. And what’s so wrong about that? Travelers don’t necessarily need a big important reason to pick one destination over another. For me, if there’s a particular museum exhibit on view, a random festival going on, a campy literary connection to a place, I can plan a whole trip around that. Cases in point: I chose Bali because of the views and the ubiquitousness of banana-chocolate desserts (they are everywhere!), and a big part of the reason I went back to Singapore, where I used to live, was for a food tour with a friend. Sadly, I have yet to plan a whole trip around an ice cream cone, but that can’t be too far off, especially now that I’ve been looking back at these sweet memories. Here are delicious scoops of inspiration for your next vacation. And if you have any other dessert suggestions for me, please leave them in the comments!

The western city of Oradea, in Romania, is remarkable for its well-preserved collection of Art Nouveau architecture—one of the most impressive in Europe. But when you're finished touring the beautiful buildings, stop for a pick-me-up at Sweet Magnolia on the main pedestrian shopping street. In addition to a rich and buttery salted caramel (one of the best I've ever tasted), they offer some more creative flavors too, like a vegan vanilla infused with charcoal to give it that eyebrow-raising black color.

avocado ice cream cone from Mister in Vancouver

In Vancouver, I had a high-brow/low-brow ice cream day. I started with this is scoop of avocado ice cream from Mister Artisan, where they start with a soft paste and use liquid nitrogen to freeze it right before your eyes, and then serve it in a charcoal waffle cone. Then I moved on to…

This Ocean Delights Taco from On Yogurt, also in Vancouver: a blue waffle cone folded into a taco shape and filled with blue vanilla sea salt ice cream rolls (rolled flat on a frozen tablet as if it was a crepe being fried) and then topped with a mini chocolate cupcake, Froot Loops, a condensed milk drizzle, and a gummy whale.

Ice cream sandwiches are the star at Cream, which first opened in Berkeley, California in 2010 and now has outposts all over California as well as in Florida and Nevada. Choose your favorite cookie, ice cream flavor, and topping to come up with your own dream 'wich—or get even more decadent and opt for a donut, brownie, or waffle as your wrapper.

At Philadelphia's ice-cream institution Franklin Fountain, the staff wear bowties and serve their scoops in Chinese food takeout containers—all of which add to the old-timey atmosphere. And while that makes it fun to grab a sundae here, the real draw is the ice cream itself, which is made "Philadelphia-style," meaning without any eggs and therefore without any need to be cooked—making the texture lighter and creamier than what you might be used to.

I'd never heard of a bread sundae until I went to the Green Tea restaurant in Hangzhou, China and had my entire dessert world blown. This one is called Bread Temptation: a cube of buttery toasted bread filled with smaller cubes of buttery toasted bread and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Those of you who love desserts that combine textures and temperatures are going to swoon over this too.

Tucked into a narrow alley off the main street in Dubrovnik's old town, Dolce Vita, is popular for its crepes filled with ice cream and its iced coffee (which is cooled down with a scoop in the glass), but the shop's main ingredient can definitely stand on its own. My favorite flavor: tart yogurt with berries.

On a recent trip to Italy, my mom and I learned to make gelato, from scratch, at Amandola Gelateria in Foligno—and then chef-owner Ricardo let us try every flavor in the shop. I would fly back to Umbria solely for this gelato; it was that good. And it's easy to understand why: Every day Ricardo handcrafts about two dozen flavors with the freshest ingredients (like the clementines he juices himself), and when each batch reaches the 24-hour mark, it gets replaced. I volunteered to eat all the leftovers, but with more than 30 flavors every day, I need some help. So who's going to Foligno with me?

My new favorite dessert: bingsu, a.k.a. snowflake, a.k.a. shaved frozen milk, a.k.a. Korea's coolest export (even cooler than K-pop). It's lighter than ice cream and less sweet…so you can eat more of it! This particular pile of creamy white fluff was dished at Nunsaram Korean Dessert Cafe in Singapore, then topped with bananas, chocolate sauce, almonds, and chocolate ice cream, but you can get just about anything on it.

Vanilla and salted caramel from Gelados Santini in Lisbon. There will likely be a line out the door; it is worth it. Attilio Santini started this ice cream company back in 1949 and the current venue’s red and white decor still feels delightfully old-fashioned.

Biscotti ice cream is a popular flavor in Locarno, Switzerland, but one of the best versions is sold at the unassuming-looking Pizzeria Gelateria Primavera restaurant. No fancy decor, no cutesy colors, no line—but plenty of delicious ice cream. I balanced the rich biscotti with cool chocolate chip and felt that I’d discovered a winning combo. The whipped cream is thick and unsweetened, which was not my thing, but I wished there were more of those crisp rolled cookies.

Singapore's AEIOU cafe came up with a brilliant take on the Indonesian avocado coffee trend: They give you a double shot of espresso and an avocado milkshake, and you get to combine the two at your table, mixing your own perfect proportion. It’s called es alpukat (meaning ice avocado) and it’s the best thing you can do with an avocado since guacamole.

This colorful bowl was created at the Nobu outpost in the One&Only Cape Town. It's mochi ice cream in green tea, mixed fruit, and raspberry flavors, over a bed of ice. Artistic and tasty.

Siem Reap can get insanely hot, so you'll need a regular dose of ice cream to cool you down. Skip the questionable carts lined up on Pub Street and grab a stool at the Gelato Co. instead. The dark chocolate and coffee are especially good. You'll probably have to get a cup; the cones melt too fast.

Ahhh: mango and lychee ice creams from Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, in New York City. The tiny shop features a lot of interesting flavors: durian, taro, black sesame, pandan, and more.

One of NYC's most popular dessert spots, Big Gay Ice Cream started its life as a mobile food truck, but now has three brick-and-mortar shops (plus one in Philly). This makes it a lot easier to get a fix when you're craving giant sundaes in homemade cones. All the offerings here start with soft-serve vanilla, chocolate, or coffee ice cream, and the delicious gimmick is the toppings: unusual combos named after pop-culture icons, like the Bea Arthur Cone and the Rocky Roadhouse Cone.

This may look like an uninteresting dome of white stuff, but looks can be deceiving. Watch the video to see what's inside, and then make a reservation at The Tasting Room in Franschhoek, stat! Reservations fill up months in advance for this whimsical multi-course food experience, one of the coolest things you can do in South Africa.

Bad picture, good dessert: a flight of eight different ice creams and sorbets at Triple Creek Ranch in Montana. The food at this luxury ranch is stellar, so you’re going to have a hard time saving room for dessert, but I have faith in you—you can do it.

This is called a moffle: a waffle with mochi baked into it. With ice cream. And berry topping. And whipped cream. I found it in Hong Kong (no surprise there, HK is even quirkier than Singapore when it comes to dessert and snack foods) last year, and I’ve seen other versions at street food fairs in the States since then. Keep your eyes open—your stomach won’t be disappointed.

Sorry for the blurry shot; I wasn’t seeing straight because of all the flavor packed into that diminutive cup. This is a spicy-sweet masala chai ice cream sundae dreamed up by a young woman named Pooja Bavishi, who handcrafts ice cream inspired by the Indian flavors of her childhood kitchen. In addition to the chai, some of her popular offerings include rose with cinnamon and roasted almonds, Turkish coffee, and ginger root. You can find her cones, sundaes and pints at the popular Brooklyn Flea, and at a few specialty shops around NYC—they are worth seeking out.

I wish I could remember the name of the little ice cream cart that sold me this tasty cone (along with the nice vendor man who taught me to say every flavor in Portuguese). I would fly back to Lisbon and stalk the waterfront just to find it so that I could have another scoop of this creamy banana gelato that tasted just like fresh, ripe fruit—but better.

Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter @wendyperrin, and Instagram @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

The London Eye Ferris Wheel

The August Vacation Value You’ve Been Looking For

Summer has a way of sneaking up on you. Suddenly it’s the end of June.  If you haven’t made your summer vacation plans yet, we can suggest a world-class trip that won’t require traveling too far or spending too much. August is an ideal time of year to visit one of our favorite cities: London.  It’s a short flight (relatively speaking), it’s not too hot or crowded in August, you’ll find reduced prices for airfare and hotels (and many museums are free), and of course there’s so much to see and do, not only in the city itself but in the plethora of historic villages and sights in the countryside that you can make easy day trips to (which we recommend doing either independently by train or with a private driver-guide). London in August is such a smart move that that’s when Wendy took her own family there—and you can read what each of her young sons had to say about it in Do’s and Don’ts For Your Trip To London and How and Where to  Spot Supercars in London (late summer is the optimal time for that).  Here’s more from Jonathan Epstein, Trusted Travel Expert for Britain, as to why London in August makes so much sense:

The Marylebone hotel London bedroom

Business travel to London dries up in August, which means more room and better deals in hotels, like The Marylebone. (Photo: The Marylebone)

Hotels are less expensive.

That’s because business travel to London dries up in August. “Corporate travel is the bedrock of higher rates in major cities,” says Jonathan. “In late summer, these bookings vanish in London.” What does this mean for you?  Deals.  Jonathan negotiates exclusive August offers for his travelers at top four- and five-star hotels.  Depending on the location, he might secure discounts on stays over three or four nights, upgrades, complimentary meals, or free cocktails. Ask him about his connections at prime hotels such as One Aldwych, Rosewood London, the Corinthia, the Marylebone, the Milestone and the Egerton. An apartment rental is another way to maximize value, especially if you’re a family or large group; learn more about that option in our London Vacation Rentals: Insider’s Guide.

The weather is better.

Unlike in many cities in Europe, August temperatures are mild in London.  Highs are between 68 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit—and who doesn’t want weather like that for sightseeing?

Everything is open, but the crowds are much smaller.

“In many cities like Paris and Rome, attractions and restaurants close in August,” Jonathan says, “but in London everything is still open!”  Because August is one of the slowest months of the year in London—with fewer tourists and fewer locals—you’re less likely to have to wait in lines or battle big crowds as you explore.

Buckingham Palace with guards London

Buckingham Palace opens to visitors only a few months each year—during the late summer. Photo: Pawel Libera/London and Partners

Late summer brings special events.

Buckingham Palace is only open to visitors for a short time each year. Guess when? During the late summer. This year, admission includes entry to “Royal Gifts,” an exhibition of official gifts presented to the Queen over the past 65 years.

Old Vic theatre exterior at night London

The Old Vic is one of London’s most famous theaters. Photo: Pawel Libera/London and Partners

It is easier to get great seats to London’s plays and musicals.

When tourists numbers go down—as they do in late summer—opportunities to see some of the West End’s famous theater productions open up. (You can see what’s playing at LondonTheatre.co.uk and find last-minute deals at TKTS.co.uk.)

This article has been updated; it was originally published in 2016.

Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

Beautiful Nature Norway natural landscape aerial photography. lovatnet lake.

It’s Not Too Late to Book An Awesome Summer Vacation

Did summer catch you by surprise? In case you have no awesome summer vacation lined up yet, we’ve scoured the globe and found 14 places where it’s not too late to find availability of the best experiences. You can still travel in these locales without any compromises, as long as you reach out to the right destination travel specialist to mastermind the tricky peak-season logistics. Not sure who that is? Click to Ask Wendy.

Los Cabos

poolside view of the ocean at a private villa in Los Cabos Mexico

Villa Stella, Los Cabos. Photo: Cabovillas.com

Did you know that the dry season in Los Cabos lasts longer than in the Mexican Caribbean and on the Pacific? All the way through July. What’s more, villa prices drop at this time of year (as much as 70% lower than peak-season prices), and you’re likely to get clued into smart locations and last-minute discounts if you know the right travel planner. For example, houses in the Palmilla community are a short walk or golf-cart ride from one of the few beaches in the area that’s safe for swimming, and the luxurious Resort at Pedregal has a tranquil atmosphere while sitting just minutes from the heart of Cabo’s marina, downtown, and main beach. As for deals, one of our specialists has a line on a fully staffed ten-bedroom villa with only a three-night minimum, making it a good value for long weekends with the family or milestone birthday or anniversary celebrations.

Learn more in our Insider’s Guide to Cabo Villa Vacations, and use Wendy’s trip request form to plan the best trip possible. You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this.


The Italian Garden at Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire. Park land designed by Capability Brown.

The Italian Garden at Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire. Photo: Visit Britain

Business travelers fill London’s hotels for most of the year—and drive rates up accordingly. But come August, there’s little work being done, so accommodations are easier to come by—and cheaper too; many hotels even offer additional discounts if you stay three or more nights. (Add to that the weaker pound courtesy of Brexit, and prices look even better.) It’s also easier to get theater tickets and reservations at Michelin-starred restaurants—and remember, most museums have free admission. August is also a wonderful time to see the countryside in bloom and meander through scenic villages on a side trip into the Cotswolds, where some hotels still have space and you can visit stately homes such as Blenheim Palace.

Read more in our Insider’s Guides to London, London Vacation Rentals, and the Cotswolds, and use Wendy’s trip request form to plan the best trip possible. You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this.


Cathedral in Seville, Spain

Cathedral in Seville, Spain. Photo courtesy Casa1800.

While Granada and the Alhambra are overflowing with visitors this summer, head west to visit the less-trafficked spots around Seville and Cadiz. Enjoy the top Spanish wine regions of Ribera del Duero and La Rioja before harvest (when they’ll be filled with tourists). And there’s still time to reserve hotels and special guides in Madrid, where an art expert can give you a curator’s experience of the Prado and a flamenco insider will introduce you to the intricacies of this art form.

Read more in our Insider’s Guides to Andalusia and Madrid. Ask Wendy for the right local expert to design your trip and ensure you get VIP treatment.

Northern California

gigantic Redwood trees at Redwood National Park

Looking up at the top of the gigantic Redwood trees at Redwood National Park in Northern California is almost impossible from the ground. Photo: Visit California/Carol Highsmith

The Pacific Coast Highway from San Francisco to Los Angeles may be California’s iconic road trip, but Highway 1 heading north from S.F. is less well known—and therefore less trafficked—and arguably just as gorgeous. Base yourself in the charming town of Mendocino while you explore secluded groves of majestic redwoods and the family-run wineries of the bucolic Anderson Valley.

Contact Wendy for the right local expert to design your trip and ensure you get VIP treatment.


aerial photo of Tobacco Caye with sailboat and blue green ocean

Tobacco Caye. Photo: Absolute Belize

Home to the world’s second-largest coral reef, Belize is a snorkeler’s and diver’s mecca. Explore the tiny nation’s cayes by private, live-aboard catamaran. Swim, snorkel, dive, kayak, fish (the personal chef can prepare your catch for dinner), spot dolphins, or simply relax—each day’s pace is yours to set. You’ll drop anchor at various spots along the archipelago, from villages that abide by the motto of “no shirt, no shoes, no problem” to postcard-perfect desert islands.

Read more in our Insider’s Guide to Belize, and use Wendy’s trip request form to plan the best trip possible. You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this.


Reine, Lofoten, Norway. The village of Reine under a sunny, blue sky, with the typical rorbu houses. View from the top

The village of Reine in Lofoten, Norway. Photo: Shutterstock

If sea kayaking around dramatic fjords, hiking to cascading waterfalls, and strolling through fishing villages sounds like your kind of summer vacation, there’s still time to make all of it happen in Norway—where it never gets dark in June and July. The right Norway travel specialists know which under-the-radar boutique lodges still have availability—and can even work their magic to get you into the supposedly sold-out properties. Read more in our Insider’s Guide to Norway.

Ask Wendy for the right local expert to design your trip and ensure you get VIP treatment.

Romania’s Danube Delta

Pelicans in Romania's Danube Delta

Pelicans in Romania’s Danube Delta. Photo: Beyond Dracula

While much of Europe will be chock-a-block with tourists this summer, Romania remains relatively undiscovered and blissfully empty. Even many Romanians haven’t been to the Danube Delta, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the best-preserved natural areas on the continent, rich in bird and marine life. It’s not too late to book a trip that combines a stay at a local guesthouse in the Delta with time in Bucharest, Transylvania (where brown bears still roam wild), and the country’s best wine region.

Read more in our Insider’s Guide to Romania, and use Wendy’s trip request form to plan the best trip possible. You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this.

Australia’s Great Barrier Reef

aerial view of the Great Barrier Reef from an airplane

The Great Barrier Reef, seen from above. Photo: Tourism Whitsundays

June, July, and August are three of the best months to visit the reef, thanks to lower humidity and rainfall, as well as excellent visibility for snorkeling and diving. It’s also a great time for wildlife encounters: You can swim with minke whales near the reef’s northern reaches, glimpse migrating humpbacks, and dive with manta rays. There are plenty of romantic adults-only resorts, as well as many kid-friendly resorts for families. This July also sees the reopening of the InterContinental Hayman Island Resort, a family favorite that suffered major damage during Cyclone Debbie two years ago.

Read more in our Insider’s Guide to the Great Barrier Reef. Ask Wendy for the right local expert to design your trip and ensure you get VIP treatment.

New Mexico

Apache Mountain Spirit Dancer statue in front of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe New Mexico

The Apache Mountain Spirit Dancer statue in front of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Photo: Tourism Santa Fe

If you think the Southwest is too hot to visit in summertime, think again. Where the elevation increases north of Albuquerque, you’ll find pleasantly warm days and crisp nights, with the occasional cooling afternoon rain shower. Santa Fe comes to life in summer with the opera season, the International Folk Art Market, and the Indian Market all in full swing. Near Taos, the southern tip of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains are a summertime playground with plenty of great options for hiking, fishing, and biking.

Contact Wendy to find the right local expert to design your trip and ensure you get VIP treatment.

Brazil and the Amazon

sunset over the trees in the brazilian rainforest of Amazonas

Sunset over the Brazilian Amazon. Photo: Shutterstock

August is the start of the best season to visit the Amazon—when it stops raining and the white-sand beaches begin to emerge from the river—and there’s still time to charter a yacht to explore the region that month. You won’t have trouble finding luxury hotel digs in Rio either, thanks to the numerous properties that opened in anticipation of the 2016 Olympics. That glut of rooms also means that rates are lower than they have been in years past.

Read more in our Insider’s Guides to Five-Star Brazil and the Brazilian Amazon, and use Wendy’s trip request form to plan the best trip possible. You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this.

Tibet and Ladakh

Ruins at Leh Palace, Ladakh, India

Ruins at Leh Palace, Ladakh, India, in the Himalayas. Photo: Sanjay Saxena

A last-minute trip to Tibet? Can’t be done, you say, given the hoops one must jump through for the necessary permits. Not always: Much of the Tibetan Plateau falls outside the Tibetan Autonomous Region, meaning you can visit permit-free. Summer is the perfect time, too: You’ll find clear blue skies across the plateau and warm days for hiking through the region’s mystical scenery. Whether you travel by foot or on horseback, you’ll overnight in boutique hotels or luxury tents outfitted with yak-wool blankets. Parts of the plateau have been heavily influenced by China, but Kham and Amdo retain the traditional Tibetan way of life—as does Ladakh, today a region of India but once a major Tibetan stronghold. Ladakh is particularly well suited for families, as there’s hiking, river-rafting, and camel trekking to keep the kids entertained.

Contact Wendy to find the right local expert to design your trip and ensure you get VIP treatment.

Nepal’s Upper Mustang Region

Monks in the medieval Kingdom of Mustang, Nepal

Monks in the medieval Kingdom of Mustang, Nepal. Photo: Myths & Mountains

Imagine hiking a rock-lined trail across the Himalayas onto the Tibetan Plateau and up to the medieval Kingdom of Mustang, just south of the Tibetan border. Mustang, where locals live as they have for centuries, is shielded by snow-capped mountains and escapes Nepal’s summer monsoon rains. Here you’ll find isolated, picture-perfect villages surrounded by fruit trees and barley fields, arid hills bathed in pastel hues, ancient caves with Buddhist paintings, and medieval forts and palaces. For most, the destination is the magical walled town of Lo Manthang, host to a rip-roaring horse festival in late July/early August. Those who prefer not to walk can take a helicopter up to Lo Manthang or drive the dusty road that crosses from Tibet down into Nepal.

Read more in our Insider’s Guide to Nepal, and use Wendy’s trip request form to plan the best trip possible. You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this.


Journeys Within Tour Company

Plain of Jars, Laos. Photo: Journeys Within

Though less well-known than neighboring Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, Laos packs a similar combination of rich culture, long history, and a delicious culinary legacy. Plus, Laos is incredibly beautiful during the summer green season: The countryside is lush and vibrant, there are fewer travelers, and many of the top hotels offer discounts of 20% to 40% off peak-season rates.

Read more in our Insider’s Guide to Laos, and use Wendy’s trip request form to plan the best trip possible. You’ll be marked as a VIP and get a trip like this.


Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter @wendyperrin, and Instagram @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

Wendy Perrin and young girl from Chiawa School in Zambia

This Is One Way My Family Gets to Know Locals When We Travel

For me an African safari isn’t just about game viewing. It’s about meeting new people from a totally different culture. And on any trip abroad with my kids, I want them to meet local children.

So half way through our safari in Zambia, we spent a couple of days in a village in Chiawa district, visiting the school and getting to know the community. At the suggestion of Cherri Briggs, an Africa travel specialist on The WOW List who has spearheaded a number of conservation and community projects in Africa and has turned life around for many people in Chiawa, we brought with us from the U.S. a big bag full of supplies for the school and the teachers, and we gave the students a slide show about our life in the U.S. (our house, our school, our neighborhood) and the children we have met in our travels around the world.

The people of Chiawa could not have been lovelier or more welcoming. My sons Charlie, 15, and Doug, 13, had fun playing volleyball with the kids, pumping water, eating Zambian home cooking with their hands, even going to church. In the videos below, you can watch a group of young girls welcome us with lively dancing, and you can enjoy the glorious songs we heard during the church service. We made a lot of friends—some of whom I’ve already heard from on WhatsApp—and hopefully some of the kids and teachers in Chiawa will visit us in the U.S. someday.

Here are the videos:

First, a 30-second panoramic tour of the village. Charlie and Doug helped out at the water pump. “Water is life” is an expression we heard a lot in Zambia.


The Power Kittens is a girls’ club that is one of the empowerment efforts founded by Cherri Briggs. It’s a club for 20 upstanding girls in Chiawa (approx. 9 to 13 years old) who do good for the community. Watch how they introduce themselves. They sing, “We are Chiawa Kittens….Yes Yes Yes! You need to work hard. Yes, that is our motto. Kitten never fails in life….Our motto is to work hard in life!”


To help break the ice, I tried joining in this dance. I wiggled as fast as I could, eliciting a lot of laughs from the audience. Charlie shot video of it, but I’m not about to share it here!


Once the Power Kittens reach high school, they become Power Cats. Here they are, in their signature blue shirts, beating Charlie and Doug at volleyball.


Listen to the beautiful voices we heard in Chiawa’s Catholic church. The priest, Father Paul Sakala, is a lot of fun—and an avid world traveler who speaks Italian and English as well as three Zambian languages.


In case you can’t get enough of those harmonious voices, here’s one more song for you.

Be a smarter traveler: Read real travelers’s reviews of Wendy’s WOW List and use it to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter @wendyperrin, and Instagram @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

The Mount is edith wharton's home in lenox massachusetss

Quick and Easy Weekend Getaways for the Summer

How is it that summer sneaks up on us every year? It was just winter, and then all of a sudden the warm weather is upon us and we’re scrambling to plan some quick-and-easy summer getaways. The good news is it’s never too late. Here are eight ideas for short, fun road trips and big-city escapes that work just as well for families as for solo travelers.

Find Your Inner Writer

You’ll have plenty of time this summer to spend reading on the beach (we hope!) but for now, get your book fix by road tripping through our nation’s literary past in New England. Wendy, who majored in History and Literature at Harvard, has designed this two-day itinerary, starting and ending in Boston, that takes you through Louisa May Alcott, Emily Dickinson, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Herman Melville, Henry David Thoreau, and Edith Wharton country.

Find Your Inner Food Critic

Put your GPS and your stomach to good use on a road trip focused on your favorite regional foods. For a Southern barbecue and soul food feast, for example, you could start with hickory-smoked ribs in Blue Ridge, Georgia, and continue sampling the country’s best barbecue on this itinerary through Nashville all the way to Kansas City. Or rate lobster rolls along the Northeastern coast, from Captain Scott’s Lobster Dock in New London, Connecticut, to Red’s Eats in Wiscasset, Maine. Find a few lauded spots with the TripAdvisor or LocalEats apps and you’re good to go. Of course, you could also just eat your way through the nearest State Fair.

See Spectacular Coastline

BlackSandBeach Lost Coast California

Drive Route 1 to Black Sands Beach on the Lost Coast in Humboldt, CA. Photo: Visit California

“One of my all-time favorite adventures along the northern California coast is to drive the one-lane, unpaved road off Route 1, just west of Leggett, to Sinkyone Wilderness State Park,” says Sheri Doyle, an expert planner of California road trips. “It’s a white-knuckle trip that will have you praying you won’t meet anyone coming the other way, and you’ll need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to do it, but the reward at the end—a black-sand beach out in the middle of nowhere—is fantastic. If that’s too daunting, the drive to the ‘Lost Coast’—the stretch of coastline from Ferndale to the Avenue of the Giants, just south of Eureka—is paved and not quite as difficult, but also leads to fantastic beach views that you’ll share with more cows than people.”

Discover Geological Wonders

Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Utah

Utah’s Highway 12, which runs alongside the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, is a spectacular drive, but few take the time to do it.

Make one of Utah’s gorgeous national parks your goal for the weekend, and turn the drive into part of the experience by driving Highway 12, which runs between the Utah towns of Tropic and Torrey alongside the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.  It’s one of the world’s most spectacular drives, yet few people know about it. Learn more about Highway 12 in The American West You Don’t Know About, But Should and bookmark our calendar guide to the best national parks for every month of the year.

Delve Into the Heartland

Mississippi River runs through Minneapolis Minnesota

Mississippi River runs through Minneapolis. Photo: Billie Cohen

America’s Great River Road runs along the Mississippi, all the way from Canada to the Gulf Coast, passing through country dotted with historic villages, wineries, wildlife, and sweeping vistas. Wendy recommends this two- to three-day itinerary that takes you along the Minnesota/Wisconsin border, starting in Minneapolis and ending in Madison, Wisconsin.

Pursue Your Passion

world's largest pumpkin roadside attraction

Pumpkins, petrified trees, yo-yos, balls of twine—the world’s largest anything is worth a stop, just for the sheer goofiness of it. Photo: Flickr/Loozrboy

Remember that you don’t need a bucket-list destination to make a road trip memorable. Just think of something you love and string together a few spots related to it. Are your kids die-hard baseball fans? Plan a route that connects minor-league stadiums. Do you swoon over lighthouses? Maine and North Carolina are just two states for you. If botanical gardens are more your thing, set your course for the Southwest and the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum. Or go all-out quirky and seek out three of the world’s largest anything—apps such as Roadside America and Along the Way will help you track them down.

See How It’s Made

Jelly Belly factory samples

The Jelly Belly factory has a free sampling station where you can try three choices of jellybeans. Photo: Tim Baker

Many candy, ice cream, and food companies offer kid-friendly tours of their facilities—but you definitely don’t need to be a kid to enjoy them. In most cases you’ll get to see some behind-the-scenes manufacturing, learn about the company and the product, and (best part) get to taste the final product. Hershey’s Chocolate World in Pennsylvania and Ben & Jerry’s in Vermont are pretty well-known, but you can find more unusual ones like Tabasco Pepper Sauce in Louisiana and the Celestial Seasonings Tea factory in Colorado. Wendy’s husband, Tim, took the boys to the Jelly Belly jellybeans factory in California one year.

Find Peace in a Big City

little red lighthouse in fort washington park new york city

Try something different in New York City: a picnic near the city’s only remaining light house, known as the Little Red Lighthouse, at the foot of the George Washington Bridge. Photo: Malcolm Pinckney, NYC Parks

You won’t be the only person thinking about hitting a big city on a summer weekend, but that doesn’t mean you can’t avoid the crowds. Washington, D.C. is beautiful in the spring, before the summer heat and humidity roll in. While everyone else is piling into the various Smithsonian museums, head away from the Mall to Dumbarton Oaks, an eclectic museum with gardens tucked away in a residential neighborhood, a mile and a half from the closest Metro stop. Owned by Harvard, the former mansion features world-class pre-Columbian and Byzantine art and artifacts, impressive architecture designed by Philip Johnson, and a beautiful 27-acre garden and park. It’s rarely crowded, and as a bonus, it’s a short stroll away from an outstanding small museum, Tudor Place, as well as the Georgetown commercial district. In New York, leave the sunbathing hordes of Central Park behind and instead spend the weekend exploring the city’s other parks. Plan a picnic in Fort Washington Park, near the city’s only remaining beacon Jeffrey’s Hook Light House (also known as the Little Red Lighthouse) at the foot of the George Washington Bridge. Or head to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, to climb Lookout Hill, the highest point in Brooklyn with views of the second park designed by Olmsted & Vaux (famous for creating Manhattan’s Central Park; legend has it they said Prospect was the design they liked better).

Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter @wendyperrin, and Instagram @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

people canoeing in British Columbia Canada

Summer Vacation Idea: British Columbia for Every Type of Traveler

The skiing in British Columbia may be world-class, but if that’s all you know of the westernmost Canadian province, you’re missing out on one of the smartest summer vacation ideas for U.S. travelers right now. As Wendy discovered when she took her family there last summer, British Columbia has it all: Spectacular unspoiled scenery, first-rate farm-to-table food, one-of-a-kind activities, high culture, pristine wilderness, hip city neighborhoods, indigenous cultural communities, colorful festivals, charming inns, characterful lodges….Plus it’s nearby, it’s Zika-free, and the exchange rate is a relief. Whatever type of traveler you are, there’s more for you in B.C. than you realize. So we asked Marc Telio, who lives in Vancouver and is Wendy’s Trusted Travel Expert for Western Canada, to detail some of the lesser-known opportunities for five different types of traveler. Here’s what he recommends.

horseback riding in british columbia at clayoquot wilderness resort

British Columbia’s wilderness lodges put you right in the middle of the great outdoors. Photo: Clayoquot Resort

Outdoor Adventurers:

British Columbia is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Just pick your adrenaline-boosting preference: sea kayaking, fishing, horseback riding, glacier hiking, helicopter hiking, river rafting, jet boating, rock climbing, kayaking on lakes, rivers or oceans—the possibilities are vast, like the wilderness here. And you can set your vacation right in the middle of it all at any number of wilderness lodges, inns, and resorts where Marc negotiates special benefits for his travelers. When you need a minute to rest from all the excitement, just enjoy a relaxing picnic—on a glacier, a clifftop, or an uninhabited island,

Cultural Explorers:

British Columbia is about the indigenous culture and people too. First Nations communities in B.C. have started to step up their tourism game, and an insider like Marc can arrange for visitors to experience these indigenous people’s culture and traditions in the most authentic way. For example, he can arrange for you to tour the islands and villages of the Haida Gwaii archipelago with a Haida guide, and for you to stay overnight at a locally owned and operated lodge. Or stay at the Spirit Bear Lodge in B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest, where the lodge gives you access to a local aboriginal village and authentic culture, and you enjoy bear-viewing while learning about local conservation efforts.

grizzly bears in river in atlin british columbia

Summer is a great time for bear viewing in British Columbia: grizzlies, black bears, and more. Photo: Phil Timpany

Wildlife Junkies:

 Marc shares a secret: “My favorite part of B.C. is the northern coast because that’s where you’ll find grizzlies, black bears, spirit bears, and all of the species of whales, seals, and sea otters.” You can cruise the region’s waterways looking for humpbacks in the water and grizzlies along the shores, or head into the Great Bear Rainforest to spot spirit bears—rare black bears with white fur—plus eagles, and more. August, September, and October are the best months for all of the above.

Family Trippers:

Want to sneak a few life lessons into a family vacation? Take your kids out of their comfort zone. That could mean zip-lining through the forest canopy, canoeing down a river, or hiking across a glacier. You could spend a few days enjoying Vancouver’s cultural attractions, then immerse your children in wilderness at a remote lodge. Getting them ten feet from a breaching killer whale or a wrestling match between black bears just might make you the coolest parents around. Continue to engage the kids over dinner: Marc can arrange for your family to pull up crab traps with local fishermen and then help a chef prepare the haul for lunch, or to go behind-the-scenes at the Vancouver Aquarium with one of the beluga whale trainers.

canoeing at whistler british columbia

Whistler may be British Columbia’s most famous ski resort, but it’s also an ideal destination for summer activities too.

Multigenerational groups:

B.C’s ski resorts transform into ideal summer destinations for family members of all ages. As Wendy discovered when she took her family to Whistler last summer, the sheer variety of activities means there’s something for everyone. Grandparents can stroll around at their leisure, take vehicles to go bear-watching, or ride a gondola to the top of the mountain, while more active family members can try kayaking, canoeing, hiking, or mountain climbing. For family groups wanting more privacy, Marc has chartered a flotilla of seaplanes to the coast and taken over wilderness lodges. Talk to Marc to plan a trip that is guaranteed to make everyone in your wide-ranging group happy.

If you’re looking for a British Columbia specialist to design a custom-tailored once-in-a-lifetime adventure for you, read Marc’s Insider’s Guide to British Columbia, and reach out to him via this trip request form so you’re marked as a WendyPerrin.com VIP traveler.

Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

how to plan a road trip

The Keys to Planning the Perfect Road Trip

Road trips are the great American summer vacation: wind in your hair, rocking tunes on the radio, kids/friends smiling in the back seat. But the magic doesn’t happen, well, magically. All road trips roll a lot smoother if they’re planned well: No one wants to be driving endlessly at 3 a.m. still looking for somewhere to eat or sleep. And no one wants to be bored in the back seat.

With some easy pre-trip thinking, you can ensure that everyone in your car stays happy and even has a meaningful, memorable trip. This summer Wendy’s sharing her hard-earned road-trip wisdom, culled from countless drives across America, in a series of articles on TripAdvisor. First up: How to plan the ultimate itinerary. I’ve summarized a few of the tips, but click here to read the full article on TripAdvisor, and we’ll see you on the road!

Get everyone on the same page before you ever step foot in the car.

What are your fellow road-trippers expecting from this vacation? Ask everyone to share their trip goals—and likes and dislikes—early in the planning stages. If one person is expecting mountains and outdoor activities but another was planning on stuffing their pie hole with a different pie in every state, you could end up with some road-trip rage. If you can all agree on a few things ahead of time, you’re going to be a lot happier when you’re on Hour 15 of Day 6.

Throw a map-planning party.

Grab an old-school map and plot out where you want to go and how you want to get there. Be sure to think about how far you really want to drive each day, and how long you want to stay in various stops. College towns can be fun and affordable overnight stops, with plenty going on whether you arrive early or late.

Give everyone a day to own.

If every person in the car gets to choose one part of the trip to be in charge of, then everyone’s wish list is more likely to get met. You can set this up so that each road tripper picks something to do, see, or eat each day—or you can give over a whole day to each passenger.

Consider whether you want to go back the same way you came.

A round-trip route could be boring at the end: The home stretch could feel like your vacation has already ended. Or it could give you the opportunity to see things you couldn’t fit in on the first leg. If you’re flying to a destination and renting a car, you might want to opt for a loop route so that you can save money by flying into and out of the same airport..

If your route is one-way, decide which direction is best.

At first glance, driving from here to there might seem the same as driving from there to here—but direction can affect a lot on a road trip. One way might mean amazing sunsets every night, or better weather, or views that don’t require you gazing across a lane of oncoming traffic in order to see the ocean. Bonus tip from science: Studies show that it’s the end of the trip that leaves the most lasting impression, so pick a route that ends with a memorable grand finale.

Seek out the small stuff—and leave time for kismet.

Small towns are packed with fun events during the summer: state fairs are full of quirky competitions and food on sticks; parades and festivals pop up all season; and off-the-beaten-path spots sometimes have surprising or quirky attractions. When you do stop, be sure to ask the locals for recommendations—they may help you discover a gem that’s not on your map.

See Wendy’s Guide to Planning the Ultimate Road Trip on TripAdvisor, where she’s TripAdvisor’s Travel Advocate, and follow her on Instagram for postcards from the California road trip she’s on right now.


Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

Boating on the lake at the Kempinski Hotel High Tatras, Slovakia. Photo credit: Kempinski Hotel High Tatras.

Summer Vacation at a Ski Resort? Yes, and Here’s Why

Ski resorts such as Vail and Park City might be best known for their winter attractions—namely, skiing down powdery slopes. But these and many other ski areas are just as much fun to visit in the summer, when warm-weather activities abound. In many cases, hotel rates and airfares are lower too. Here are a few of our favorite ski areas that make for fun, and family-friendly, summer vacations:

Vail Valley, Colorado

The Area: With nearly 200 runs on Vail Mountain itself and numerous ski areas nearby, the Vail Valley is a Rocky Mountain paradise sitting two hours west of Denver.

Summer Fun: There is a huge array of outdoor activities here during the summer—hiking and biking, plus stand-up paddleboarding at Piney River Ranch, zip-lining, an adventure ropes course, and much more. But you should also take advantage of the cultural offerings, such as free Tuesday-night concerts, the Bravo! Vail Music Festival, and the Farmers’ Market & Art Festival on Sundays. In Beaver Creek, the Vilar Performing Arts Center has a fabulous summer lineup and an intimate setting. If you arrive early enough, you can even ski Arapahoe Basin.

Four Seasons Vail hotel

At the Four Seasons, rates are 40 percent off from mid-April through mid-December. And the view! Courtesy: Four Seasons Vail

Where to Stay: The Manor Vail Lodge is an easy walk from Vail Village. The majority of their accommodations have kitchens and fireplaces (which do come in handy on chilly summer evenings), but since each unit is different, it’s key to book through someone who can explain the pros and cons of each. At the Four Seasons, rates are 40 percent off from mid-April through mid-December; opt for the mountain-view rooms. The hotel’s Remedy Bar is a local hotspot for post-adrenaline cocktails. The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch is nestled in an ideal spot, seemingly remote but a short shuttle ride from Beaver Creek, with great hiking right out the front door.

Insider Intel: The Epic Pass offers unlimited skiing at a number of resorts in Colorado, California, Utah, Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Australia—plus a warm-weather bonus. If you plan to ski at any of these locations even once next winter, buy a pass and use it for unlimited free rides up the gondola during the summer as well. You can also save a few bucks by perusing the Vail Daily for two-for-one dinner coupons, which are common in summertime.

Contact Wendy to find the right Colorado ski specialist to plan your best possible trip to Vail. Expect a trip of this caliber


Park City, Utah

The Area: Thirty miles from Salt Lake City, Park City is home to the Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort, as well as the Sundance Film Festival.

Summer Fun: The biking here is very family-friendly: There are flat, paved paths for babies in trailers and toddlers on balance bikes, and a variety of mountain-biking trails accessible from the ski lifts. There’s also the Alpine Slide, the bobsled track, whitewater rafting, and hiking—not to mention great dining and shopping.

Where to Stay: In Deer Valley, the Montage and the St. Regis have rooms in summertime for a fraction of what you’d pay in winter. The Montage is ideal for families (there’s even a bowling alley in the kids’ club), while the St. Regis has a more adult feel.

Insider Intel: Even in summer, you should make restaurant reservations before you arrive; tables fill up quickly in Park City.

Contact Wendy to find the right Utah ski specialist to plan your best possible trip to Park City. Expect a trip of this caliber


Doug tries his balance on a teeter-totter in Whistler’s bike-skills park. Photo: Tim Baker.

Wendy’s son Doug tries his balance on a teeter-totter in Whistler’s bike-skills park. Photo: Tim Baker.

Whistler, Canada

The Area: Whistler Resort, which is 75 miles north of Vancouver on a scenic highway, joined the world stage when it hosted the Winter Olympics in 2010—but there’s actually more to do here during the summer than the winter.

Summer Fun: Whistler has endless options for the adventurer: among them are zip-lining, kayaking, canoeing (on both lakes and rivers), tubing, whitewater rafting, fishing, ATV tours, hiking, bear viewing, mountain biking, and golfing.

Where to Stay: With an indoor/outdoor pool and lots of dining options, the Fairmont Chateau Whistler is great for families. Rates are always lower during the summer, and the weaker Canadian dollar often means an even better value for American visitors.

Insider Intel: If your budget allows, charter a helicopter or small seaplane to access high alpine lakes, glaciers, and hiking trails that you’d never get to on foot.

Contact Wendy to find the right Canada specialist to plan your best possible trip to Whistler. Expect a trip of this caliber

Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.