Is it really July already? Don't worry, there's still time to plan an action-packed summer vacation that doesn't put a major dent in your wallet. The experts at ShermansTravel.com searched high (Alaska) and low (Australia) to bring you five deals tied with five exceptional outdoor adventures.
1. Bike Around Portland, Oregon
With 318 miles of bikeways, Portland is one of only three cities nationwide to be designated at the platinum level for bike-friendly communities by the League of American Bicyclists. Plans are moving forward for a bike-share program to launch in early 2013. Stay at the DoubleTree (see above deal), which offers bike rentals and maps of accessible bike routes throughout Portland.
2. Explore the Land of The Hobbit in New Zealand
With filming on Peter Jackson's The Hobbit wrapping up in July (the film hits theaters this holiday season), now is the perfect time to explore the jaw-dropping setting for Middle Earth. If you have Bilbo Baggins fans in your midst, take a three-hour back-roads drive to Matamata, where movie set tours are offered throughout the year.
3. Cruise the Panama Canal
Take your pick from any number of outdoor activities (mountain biking in one of the country's 15 national parks, hiking in the rainforest, and kayaking in the azure waters of the Caribbean) all within easy access of the country's lively capital, Panama City. If there's any energy left during downtime, check out the new Frank Gehry-designed Biodiversity Museum: Panama Bridge of Life, or the expansion of the Panama Canal, which is scheduled to triple its capacity by 2014, when it marks its 100th anniversary.
4. Go on Safari in Alaska
Referred to as "The Great Land," Alaska is home to soaring snowcapped mountains, sprawling tundra, and a remote Arctic north, all of which shelter a wide range of wildlife that is otherwise threatened or endangered in the continental United States. Humpback whales, brown bears, lynx, sea otters, sea lions, bald eagles, and blue whales are just some of the vulnerable species protected here.
5. Kick Back on Sydney's Hottest Beach
Just 7 miles north of Sydney Harbour, a scenic half-hour ferry ride connects Sydney's Circular Quay with Manly's main oceanfront, where rolling surf meets glorious golden-sand beaches and a verdant trim of pine trees. The lively cafe- and shop-lined strip of the Corso links the harbor side of Manly to its fabulous beach, where surfing competitions, beach volleyball, festivals, and much more unfold every summer.
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