Each year, Priceline, the popular vacation-booking website, compiles a list of the 10 hottest international vacation spots for U.S. travelers in the upcoming months based on early hotel reservations. This year, Latin America has proven to be a sought-after spot, with the country of Costa Rica earning the fifth ranking. (Last year, Costa Rica did not make the list at all, which may have been due to inflation in the country increasing travel expenses. Inflation in Costa Rica hit a record high in 2014 but has since improved.)
Getting Out of the Cold
There was a theme in 2015 top-travel spots for American travelers both inside and outside the U.S.: warmth. The top locations for travelers inside the U.S were Fort Lauderdale, Miami, New Orleans and Las Vegas, while international destinations were largely in warmer Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, Cozumel, Los Cabos and Cancun.
Affordable Destinations Rule
For cost-conscious travelers, Priceline also has a list of the most affordable vacation U.S. spots for the upcoming year. For 2015, Dallas, Texas, took the top spot, with average room rates coming in at $86.31. Other low-priced spots included Salt Lake City, Utah; Orlando, Florida; Charlotte, North Carolina and Phoenix, Arizona. According to Priceline, Dallas has many tourist attractions, such as lakeside Botanical Gardens and indoor ice rinks. Salt Lake City’s claim to fame is being the “Genealogy Capital of the World,” with a large Family History Library for those interested in ancestral research.
New List Entries
Many destinations on Priceline’s Top 2015 vacation places list were not on the 2014 entry. Latin America in particular saw an uptick in the international destinations list, with Costa Rica and Los Cabos and Cancun in Mexico all appearing after being left out the year prior. Other international destinations on this year’s list that did not make last year’s include Paris, France; Barcelona, Spain; and Puerto Rico.
Why Costa Rica?
Located in Central America and bordered by Nicaragua, Panama, the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean Sea and Ecuador, Costa Rica is a known vacation hotspot, with tourism playing a large role in the local economy. Free of an army since 1949, the country is peaceful and lively despite its relatively small size. Over 25 percent of Costa Rica is protected natural territory, giving visitors wonderful landscape views and a chance to see immense biodiversity in wildlife.
Naturally, there are many beaches in Costa Rica with lush surrounding forests. Outdoor enthusiasts can participate in the many activities available, which include fishing, mangrove hiking and even horseback riding. For those who love the water, Costa Rican beaches boast surfing, coral reefs, diving and leisure swimming.
For families on vacation, the Costa Rican capital of San Jose is a wonderful place to find things to do with the entire family. San Jose is home to museums, guided tours, recreation centers, movie theaters and theatrical venues. The surrounding landscapes offer plenty of opportunities for those looking for a little adventure, as travelers can take tours of protected land areas and explore the country’s tropical forests.
Water enthusiasts, whether with family or traveling solo, will find a wide variety of things to do in Costa Rica. The most popular water areas are the Corobici, Pacuare, Reventazon and Sarapiqui Rivers. Visitors can participate in diving, jet skiing, snorkeling, rafting and even banana boat tours.
Tourists interested in culture will find themselves overwhelmed by the options in Costa Rica. Popular museums include the Chortega Ceramics Museum in San Vicente, Nicoya, the Abangares Mines Museum and the Indigenous Boruca Museum. These institutions house many works of art, from religious pieces to modern displays, and remnants of the country’s rich history, such as stone, jade and gold pieces, and ceramics that even predate Columbus.
Finally, for those looking for exciting and raucous nightlife, Costa Rica does not disappoint. Home to hot clubs such as Cuartel de la Boca del Monte in San Jose and the Backyard Bar in Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica offers plenty of social opportunities and dining options for spirited travelers. Some of the more upscale clubs do have dress codes, so visitors should check out the location’s rules before heading out at night.