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Catapulted to fame for its part in the 1988 Winter Olympics, this former coal-mining town in the Canadian Rockies is a perfect base for visiting some of the country’s most impressive national parks. First stop for most visitors is the ski trails in Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park. Contemplate natural wonders at the Museum and Geoscience Centre, and mush through the snow on a sled-dog tour.
Soaring mountains, jewel-coloured lakes and pristine wilderness await you in Canada’s first National Park. The irresistible beauty of the landscape invites travellers to immerse themselves in the outdoors all year round — whether hiking through untouched forests and paddling the turquoise lakes in summertime, or skiing the slopes and soaking in the steamy hot springs during the winter. Travellers also enjoy the warm hospitality of Banff or Lake Louise, the region’s charming mountain townships.
The town of Lake Louise is nestled in the Canadian Rockies, just 45 minutes east of Banff. Breathtaking mountain scenery and fluffy snow lure skiers and snowboarders to the slopes of the world-class Lake Louise Ski Resort every winter, while in summer this picturesque hamlet overflows with nature lovers are eager to explore unforgettable hiking trails and rock climbing faces. A short drive from downtown is Lake Louise itself, which thrills visitors every summer with its vibrant turquoise waters.
Stretching from the fishing village of Puerto Morelos to the biosphere reserve of Sian Ka'an, the Mayan Riviera offers an unforgettable Caribbean coastline experience. Divers and snorkelers will be dazzled by the wrecks of Xcaret and the Puerto Morelos reef. Use a zip line to descend into the sacred subterranean caverns of LabnaHa Eco Park, where you can snorkel an underground river under a canopy of stalactites. The nearby Tulum Monkey Sanctuary will put you in a playful mood.
Cuba's top beach destination sits on a 13-mile-long peninsula with powder soft sands lapped by waters of the Kawama Channel. Resort hotels teem along the shore that U.S. celebrities and gangsters, including Capone, discovered in the 1920s. Clubs and bars provide mojitos and merriment, after long days baking on the beach, golfing, diving or deep sea fishing. Rent a scooter or hop aboard an open-air tourist train or bus to see more of this stunning spot. Caves, keys and virgin forest add to the area's allure.
There are no two identical Bahamas holidays. With options as diverse as its 700 islands, the Bahamas may seem schizophrenic: is it a family destination, a place for lovers to sneak away, a gambling mecca, a cruise-afficianado’s chief port of call or a shopper’s world market? The answer is, yes. It’s that, too.
U.S. citizens still need to jump through a few hoops to visit Cuba, but as visitors from around the world know, this island offers some amazing opportunities for cultural exchange. Havana is a mix of old-world architecture and of-the-moment culture. Head out of the capital city to the small town of Trinidad to see more Spanish colonial architecture. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a fantastic home base for a visit to the Valley of the Sugar Mills, a pocket of land that formerly served as the centre of Cuba’s sugar industry.
The Dominican Republic lies in the same waters as Cuba and Puerto Rico, taking up the eastern two-thirds of the island it shares with Haiti. Offering a lush interior with a mix of caves, Victorian gingerbread houses and the lore of pirates, plus 900 miles of coastline along its brim, island highlights include riding a cable car up Mount Isabel de Torres and basking on stunning Saona Island. Oh, and did we mention the D.R. is family-friendly, has just about perfect weather and is affordable?