School is out and a summer full of possibilities is ahead of you. While most of your friends might be getting jobs as camp counselors, working at the local diner, or doing SAT prep, why not dare to be different and take an adventure to discover a new culture or improve your Spanish. Don’t know where to go or think traveling anywhere of note is too far? Here are some places to check out that are right in America’s backyard.
Can’t decide if you would rather spend a day amongst centuries old Mayan ruins, go adventuring in a giant lake or climb up volcanos? Then why not do all three in Guatemala! With a countryside full of natural wonders and manmade cultures to explore, Guatemala is the perfect place to get a taste of everything that Central America has to offer. Yet even after all this sightseeing, at the end of the day, your best memory might be about that great deal you brokered in the market all because your Spanish impressed the shop keep.
2. Costa Rica
Why not visit a country where you can spend your morning at a beautiful waterfall in the jungle and your afternoon playing soccer with locals on the beach? With a vibrant landscape to challenge you physically, and a hearty group of people to engage in cultural exchanges with, come see firsthand why Ticos are proud of their country and come back home as an honorary member.
If you love Salsa both ways—eating and dancing, then Mexico is the perfect place for you. With a rich fusion between ancient and modern cultures and an even tastier food culture, you will be hard pressed to find another country with as much nourishment for your brain as well as your stomach anywhere in the world. If you’re up for an adventure, ask for some Tacos de Lengua on the street.
4. Dominican Republic
Though it might be known more for its all-inclusive resorts, there is more to the D.R then just frozen drinks with cute little umbrellas attached. Come explore the side of this country that most tourists don’t see by volunteering with local villages and helping out beautiful wildlife that looks even more spectacular up close than what you see on Nat Geo HD back home.
Have the unique chance to both see living history of a gone-by-era and make your own history by being one of the first to visit Cuba since the 1960’s embargo. With the US opening up travel with our island neighbor, be one of the first to take in the sights, sounds, and Cubanos of a nation eager to share their world with a new generation of Americans.
Contributed by Matt Zonis