Just four months ago, Edmonton ended 167 days of winter – with temperatures at or below zero – so don’t take any chances as the days get shorter and summer winds down. Start planning a vacation to these sunny destinations that have direct flights from YEG – some are even close enough for weekend getaways.
Time: 7 hours, 35 minutes
Frequency: Tuesdays and Sundays starting December 9
One of Hawaii’s most serene islands is perfect for an escape from real-world duties. Island Time really is a thing, so forget schedules and reservations and embrace the relaxing pace between eating and drinking on a patio and reading on a beach. If you want to fuel your adventurous side, opportunities for hiking, zipline and watersports, including surfing and snorkelling, abound for pros and beginners alike – just rent some gear and take lessons from a local instructor. The island is small enough that you can drive between destinations for day trips, but diverse enough that each community and attraction offers a distinct look and feel. And Maui’s relaxed vibe makes it as perfect for a family getaway as it is a romantic destination (really).
2. Los Cabos
Time: 4 hours, 40 minutes
Frequency: Mondays starting October 29
The city of Cabo San Lucas is home to six Blue Flag beaches, an international recognition of environmentally sustainable beaches, with white sand and clear water for you to swim and snorkel in. If you crave sunny days but go stir crazy easily, take the short under-one-hour road trip to the East Cape, or go for a road trip through Baja California Sur for surfing, fishing and camping and tacos galore. For a unique view ofEl Arco (and a nice glass of mezcal), head to The Rooftop at the Cape, a large bar with plants and water features that make it as stunning as the landscape it overlooks. It’s pleasantly warm and not overwhelmingly hot October through June, making fall the perfect time for a getaway.
3. San Francisco
Time: 3 hours
Thanks to daily, direct year-round flights to SFO that launched in May, Golden Gate City is easier to visit than ever. If you’ve never been, the classic sites – Fisherman’s Wharf, Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz – are great starting points. For nightlife, there’s a host of eclectic tiki bars (you have to go to Smuggler’s Cove and Tonga Room), rooftop bars and tons of innovative dining options. For those into food tourism, check out Tartine Bakery for world-renowned sourdough and Wrecking Ball Coffee Roasters to see the origin of third wave coffee. Continue your food tour at Zuni Caf, In Situ, Atelier Crenn and B. Patisserie; all were awarded prestigious James Beard Awards in May.
Time: 5 hours, 52 minutes
Frequency: Thursdays starting November 1
Mexico is having quite the moment; it experienced record tourist numbers in 2017 (39.3 million visitors, up 12 per cent from 2016) and Pinterest predicted it would be a top travel destination in 2018 based on a significant increase in the number of Mexico-related pins – saves for “Mexico City” increased by 96 per cent. To check out what all the excitement is about, but eschew the crowds, hit up Huatulco. It’s not a splashy resort area the way Puerto Vallarta or Cancn are, and instead blends luxury accommodations with undeveloped jungles and charming small towns. For a low-key vacation, browse the many markets for fresh produce, eat fresh guacamole and sip on mezcal, bike along the shoreline, take a cruise from one of the nine bays or take a guided tour of the 2,500-year-old ruins at Bocana del Rio Copalita. For something more fast-paced, go on a hike to a waterfall through the jungle, snorkel in one of those bays to view sea creatures and stunning coral gardens, go whitewater rafting through the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains or, if you’re experienced, surf the “Mexican Pipeline.” And, yes, if you just want to lounge on a beach, there are 36 for you to relax on.
5. Las Vegas
Time: 3 hours
Temperatures linger in the mid to high 20s in Las Vegas from October onward, whereas in Edmonton they’re, well, you know. After last season’s run, the hottest ticket in town is a Vegas Golden Knights game, but, if hockey isn’t your thing, there’s a show for just about every interest. Dozens of new celebrity chef-driven restaurants have opened this year and more still are rolling out throughout the fall. If you need a quick getaway with never-ending entertainment options and aren’t looking for much by way of rest, Vegas looks pretty good.
6. Los Angeles
Time: 3 hours
Frequency: Daily through October 28; 6 times weekly starting October 29
There’s a reason 48 million visitors travelled here last year. If you make the popular one-hour trek from downtown L.A. (depending on traffic) to the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, make sure to spend some time exploring the rest of the city to take in its growing food and drink scene. Craft beer drinkers will want to visit Anaheim Brewery, Noble Ale Works, Bottle Logic Brewing and Unsung Brewing Co., while foodies will find dozens of vendors making delicious eats just begging to be Instagrammed at the Anaheim Packing District.
7. Palm Springs
Time: 3 hours, 26 minutes
Frequency:Daily starting October 28
We don’t need to tell Edmontonians to go to Palm Springs – there’s a reason there are daily flights year-round – and take in all the art and desert surroundings like Joshua Tree National Park. And while Palm Springs isn’t a typical culinary hotspot, if you’re a foodie there are some new places you might want to check out. The rooftop pool and bar at the new Kimpton Rowan Hotel is a perfect place to relax in the sun, and even if you’re not a guest you can sip and swim (for a small fee) here after 4 p.m. Or go for a drink at Holiday House, the newly opened, refurbished version of the hotel formerly known as The Chase Hotel. Make a reservation at The Pantry on a Friday night for a not-so-secret fried chicken meal with all the fixings. In October, you’ll be able to eat at California’s famed Wexler’s Deli with its house-smoked meats and an exclusive-to-Palm Springs burger.
Time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
If you want to keep things a bit closer to home – no need to check if your passport has expired, or to worry about the currency exchange rate – take the short flight to sunny Kelowna. Thanks to a new daily route just added in July, Wine Country just got a whole lot easier to visit. It’s a foodie’s paradise with vineyards and orchards fuelling wineries, breweries, cideries and artisanal shops and restaurants. Sure the weather cools off in the fall and winter, but you won’t see snow or below-zero chills. Get some friends together for an easy, relaxing weekend. For help deciding where to eat and drink, pick up a copy of Jennifer Cockrall-King’s Food Artisans of the Okanagan (and when you return home, check out the Alberta version that was just released).
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This article appears in the August 2018 issue of Avenue Edmonton.