Summertime is fast approaching, and that means it’s time to plan a summer escape. Luckily, you don’t have to go far: the Southwest is full of fun, exciting destinations no matter what your vacation style. From the beaches of Southern California to the mountains of Colorado, there’s something for everyone right here in our own backyard.
San Diego: As if San Diego’s 70 miles of coastline and reliably sunny weather weren’t enough, the city is also home to many museums, a world-renowned zoo, theme parks, famous golf courses and a lively theater scene, as well as great food, shopping and nightlife in the historic downtown quarter.
Los Angeles: The question in Los Angeles is never what to do, but where to begin. Your choices include amusement parks, architectural landmarks, art museums and galleries, beaches, parks, hiking and shopping — just to name a few. A region of great diversity, you’ll discover a world of culinary adventures. After the sun goes down, you’ll find there’s an abundance of nightlife options, including live music and comedy provided by performers both legendary and yet-to-be-discovered.
Santa Monica: Drop a line at Santa Monica Pier. Sure you’ll find rides and restaurants, but the pier is a great place for fishing, with bait and tackle available. Experience it and you’ll understand why it continues to be a location favored by still photographers and film crews who use the pier extensively as a backdrop for magazine layouts, movies, television shows, commercials and videos.
San Francisco: San Francisco is considered one of the greatest cities in the world for many things, including five-star dining and a happening theater scene. Beyond the 50-square-mile city in the surrounding Bay Area, there’s much more to explore — including Silicon Valley’s innovations, Marin’s Headlands, the Napa Valley’s vineyards and Berkeley’s free spirit.
San Jose: You don’t really know San Jose until you explore some of its unforgettable attractions; from its earliest adobes to a mysterious mansion, and innovative museums. Nearby small towns make for rewarding day trips from Campbell and Mountain View to Los Gatos and Saratoga. San Jose is a gateway to some of the most amazing sights in California, from wine country to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Spend a day or a week and begin to unlock the area’s secrets.
CALIFORNIA SOURCE: The California Travel & Tourism Commission, www.visitcalifornia.com
Las Vegas: This is a city that needs no introduction. With its top-of-the-line resorts, shopping, dining, exciting entertainment and nightlife, Las Vegas has earned its place as one of the world’s premier tourist destinations. Nevada’s largest city has long outgrown its adult playground moniker, and is no longer just a gambling mecca.
SOURCE: Nevada Commission on Tourism, www.visitlasvegas.com
Salt Lake City: Utah’s capital and gateway to the state’s renowned ski resorts, scenic national parks and recreational areas. Salt Lake is a well-known ski destination, having hosted the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. Skiers continue to flock here to enjoy world-class facilities and the “greatest snow on earth.” The historic Mormon Temple Square is a popular tourist attraction, and the city also offers lively entertainment and nightlife.
SOURCE: Utah Travel Industry Website, www.visitsaltlake.com
Provo: Just an hour south of Salt Lake City on Interstate 15, there is a section of the state called Utah Valley. The area is home to Provo, Utah’s second largest city. To the west of Provo lies Utah Lake, and to the east of the city stands a towering range of mountains called the Wasatch Front.
SOURCE: Utah Travel Industry Website, www.utah.com
Denver: Urban sophistication meets outdoor adventure in the Mile High City. With 300 days of sunshine, a walkable downtown, thriving art and cultural scenes — with the Rockies as a backdrop — Denver offers affordable exploration of the world’s most spectacular playground.
SOURCE: Denver Convention and Visitors Bureau, www.denver.org
Albuquerque: The true Southwest lives in New Mexico. Immerse yourself in rich culture and heritage, rooted in centuries of history. Soak in blue skies and sun that shines 310 days a year — perfect for outdoor activities. Breathe in the high desert air scented with sage and piñon, and you’ll understand why the area is a destination like no other.
SOURCE: Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau, www.itsatrip.org
Leigh Anne Zinsmeister contributed to this report.