The winter doldrums are in full swing. Even though it’s early February, it’s not too early to start thinking about your summer vacation plans. I recently spoke with Jeff Meehan, owner of PCR Travel in Center Township, about his top five travel destinations for 2017, three of which are in the Caribbean and two in the United States. Where are you headed this year?

Aruba

Located in the Southern Caribbean about 60 miles from the tip of Venezuela, Aruba is known as the ‘friendly island.’ Blessed with a consistent annual temperature of 85 degrees, the desert isle has an appealing, constant breeze, and activities and interests for all ages. All-inclusive and European Plan (meals not included) hotels, both on-beach and off-beach, are numerous, and budgeted for all pocket books. Aruba is one of the few Caribbean islands with gambling casinos in many hotels. Palm Beach and Eagle Beach are two of the most popular areas on the island, and the Pittsburgh International Airport has great scheduled air flights to Aruba. Adventure, beautiful beaches, great weather, warm water and some of the friendliest people in the Caribbean awaits any traveler that chooses family friendly Aruba as a vacation destination.

Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula

Cancun and Riviera Maya, both serviced by the Cancun International Airport, offer some of the best beaches and sightseeing in all of the Caribbean. Both destinations are annual favorites for many American and foreign travelers. Though different in some ways, both do share the quality of top notch vacation spots at a great price. Cancun, more adjacent to the airport, is a virtual Las Vegas strip of 5 and 6 star beach hotels, most of which are all-inclusive. Known for being ‘very American’ in feel, Cancun offers turquoise waters, white sand beaches, large mall and small shop shopping, and Mexican and Mayan historical attractions for the entire family. Yet, Cancun is also one of the best ‘adults only’ destinations in the Caribbean, with dance until dawn nightclubs dotted up and down the strip. Riviera Maya extends for two hours south of the airport and offers grand, village-style beach resorts for adult and family travelers. Some of these resorts comprise hundreds of acres extending back from the beach. Most are all-inclusive and offer a retreat-like vacation, with enough activities and venues to allow guests to never leave the resort property.

Jamaica

The second largest island in the Caribbean, Jamaica has a northern shoreline on the western Caribbean that represents the image of what everyone thinks an island getaway should be like. Although there are three international airports on Jamaica, Montego Bay is the gateway that is most widely used by travelers. The resort areas of Montego Bay, Ocho Rios and Negril are on the northern end of the island. They are the most popular centers of tourism.  Jamaica is populated with the largest selection of 5 star all-inclusive resort hotels and properties in the entire Caribbean. Jamaica has a welcoming and warm feeling all its own. The flavor of the island is unique among all of the Caribbean destinations. Mountainous yet quite tropical, Jamaica is rich in history and has always been a favorite destination for travelers from all over the world. Dunn’s River Falls is a favorite attraction on the island, where travelers are guided to actually climb from the base to the summit of the falls. Local art and crafts are sought after by all travelers to Jamaica, and the island is a favored port of call for cruise ships. The world famous jerk-style preparation of meats has a popular appeal on Jamaica and actually originated on the island. Adults and families alike find Jamaica to be a favorite destination year after year.

Las Vegas

The name of the city alone seems to say it all. The sound of it has conjured visual images of unequaled excitement to travelers for over 75 years, and the pace of its appeal seems to pick up speed every year. It has been the stomping ground of celebrities from Frank Sinatra to Lady Gaga, and is the consummate gaming capital on the planet. Yet, don’t think that this designation has ever stopped the constant evolution of this destination.  From its famed strip that is the home of the most glamorous collection of resort hotels in the world, to its fabled, and now electronic light-covered downtown Fremont Street experience, there is no other place in the world that shakes, rattles and rolls quite like Las Vegas. Because of its proximity to the Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon, and with a history that is fascinating (and a future that seems to be boundless), everyone in the family can find something in or around Las Vegas. If you haven’t been there, you need to go. And if you have been there, you want to go back soon. Either way, get Las Vegas at the top of your must-see travel destinations.

Walt Disney World

At the other end of the brazen excitement of Las Vegas, is the pure magic and utter fantasy of Walt Disney World in Orlando. No two worlds could be farther apart, but yet equally INFAMOUS. Simply put, WDW is the destination epicenter for family travel. With little need to describe its popularity, WDW is a fantasy treasure chest for visitors of all ages. Children dream about it. On-site and off-site hotel properties number in the thousands. From the Magic Kingdom, to the Animal Kingdom, and everything else in between, WDW seems to be a planet in its own unparalleled orbit. A week’s stay in WDW is an experience that parents and children alike will savor for a lifetime. Some families go once, and others go often…but all families need to get there. By the way, honeymooners love WDW, too.

Are you looking to book a vacation this year? Contact the experts at PCR Travel who will handle all of your needs! They are located at 3433 Brodhead Road in Center Township, near the intersection of Brodhead and Center Grange Roads. They can be reached at 724-775-9560.

Marc is a lifelong resident of Beaver County. A 2001 graduate of Center High School and 2005 graduate of Point Park University, Marc is employed by the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School and officiates high school and college football. Follow Marc on Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram @marcgrando