6 Warm-Weather Adventures
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Stop shivering long enough to imagine the snow and dreary skies of the Midwest are actually sugary sand against a lapis lazuli blue horizon. Sailing on a cruise line like Royal Caribbean, could make that vision a reality—for anywhere from three days to a week or longer. Cruise ships depart for the Bahamas from Cape Canaveral, Florida, for a memorable sun-kissed adventure (800/ROYALCARIBBEAN or 866/562-7625; royalcaribbean.com).
Conquer Cajun Country
Zydeco music fills the sultry winter nights west of the Mississippi River. The Atchafalaya Basin offers plenty of scenery, entertainment—and alligators. Warm your taste buds at Avery Island with a tour of the Tabasco plant, before meandering through the lush and vibrant 170-acre Jungle Gardens and Bird City. Located on one of five salt dome islands on the Louisiana Gulf Coast, this is the kind of adventure you just can't find back home (800/40GUMBO or 800/404-8626; atchafalaya.org).
Run Like a River
The West is still wild in southwest Texas. Experience just how wild at Big Bend National Park, which got its name from the curve in the Rio Grande that proves everything really is bigger in Texas. Surrounded by more than 1 million acres of public land, you'll have no problem filling your time with hiking, river rafting, horseback riding and backcountry vehicle tours (visitbigbend.com).
There's more to Vegas than slot machines and buffets. Sprawling red mountains greet hikers, rock climbers and cyclists at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation area, just 20 miles west of the Strip. Out at Lake Mead, visitors eschew video poker machines for houseboat rentals and stargazing. And if the quiet is too much, seven different Cirque du Soleil shows are minutes away (877/847-4858; visitlasvegas.com).
Welcome to the Jungle
Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula isn't all about white-sand beaches and seaside resorts. Much of the region is undeveloped, making for a truly authentic adventure. The 81-mile area known as the Riviera Maya boasts jungle, subterranean rivers, the world's second largest off-shore coral reef, Mayan ruins and more. With charming Mexican inns, open-air cafes, endless shoreline and average daily temperature highs in the 80s, you'll feel worlds away from the chills of home (rivieramaya.com).
Arkansas' Ozarks brim with caves, caverns, sinkholes and underground rivers ripe for exploration. Visitors at Blanchard Springs Caverns in Mountain View tunnel through subterranean tubes into areas rarely seen on the Wild Caves Tour. Those who prefer to remain upright wander 200 feet into the earth to view stalactites, stalagmites and flowstones. Awaken your inner spelunker and come on down! The caves even stay warm (50s-60s) in winter (800/264-0316; ozarkgetaways.com).