May 13, 2023

Summer Vacation Ideas 2023

Summer Vacation Ideas 2023

Summer Vacation Ideas 2023
The school year is winding down, and we’re all getting antsy for summer vacation! The good news is, there’s still plenty of time to plan a sunny getaway. This week, we’re going to talk about some ideas for beating the cro...

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Summer Vacation Ideas 2023


The school year is winding down, and we’re all getting antsy for summer vacation! The good news is, there’s still plenty of time to plan a sunny getaway. This week, we’re going to talk about some ideas for beating the crowds, heat, and expensive airfare so you can focus on relaxing and enjoying that perfect summer vacation. 

Discussion topics include:

  • Road trips
  • Domestic destinations-popular spots, off the beaten path, and beaches (especially alternatives to the mainstream, popular locations)
  • Last minute cruise deals
  • Amusement parks
  • Pick a theme-history, food, bourbon, whatever your interest, and develop a trip to a city or region around it. 
  • Flightless tourism - trains are hot this year!
  • Set-Jetting:Travel inspired by locations on your favorite TV series or movies.
    Adventures by Disney has just announced a set-jetting trip to Colombia inspired by the sights, sounds, and tastes of Encanto: 

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Remember, life is short and the world is wide. So go have an adventure!



[0:00] Music.

[0:24] Purple mountains majesty, we want to see it all and do it all, and we want to help you do the same.
We all have those bucket list trips, once in a lifetime destinations that we'll get to someday.
We're here to help you make your travel dreams a reality, buy the ticket take the trip, where.

[0:40] Music.

[1:07] Welcome back to another meeting of the Gold Key Adventurer Society.
My name is Dan Leonard. Hi, Dan.
And joining me this week in the studio is Heather Strait. Hello.
And Mr. Jeff Williams.
I am here. There's a pregnant pause there. I thought you were going to finish that thought.
I was waiting for it.
That's going to be some really compelling audio for our listeners.
They're going to love it.
Our show, as always, is brought to you by Key to the World Travel. It sure is.
Key to the World Travel is a full service travel agency specializing in theme parks, cruising, destinations around the world.
Head to for more details and no oblige.
No oblige English. Sometimes sometimes my my tongue has a hard time saying obligation for more details and a no obligation quote on the vacation of a lifetime, The school year is winding down and we're all getting antsy for summer vacation Good news is there's still plenty of time to plan that sunny getaway this week We're going to talk about some ideas for beating the crowds heat and, super expensive airfare.

[2:17] Higher all the time Uh, yeah, but that way all you have to do is focus on relaxing and enjoying your perfect summer vacation.
Oh, I figured we can just talk about some of the, the popular trendy things that people are doing this year for summer that aren't.
Let's face it, the headlines for summer travel last year were everywhere was hotter than the surface of the sun and very crowded.

[2:43] Let me tell you what I'm doing next week. What are you doing next week, Jeff?
I'm driving to the beach. Driving to the beach? Good old-fashioned road trip.
I am lucky enough to be within four hours of the Gulf.
Gulf Shores? Of Mexico. So we're going down to the Gulf Shores area to Orange Beach and taking my mom down there. My brother and his wife are joining or they're bringing my mother down there. She's very old. So we're gonna get her down there to the beach and let her see that water and get her feet in the sand. That'll be fun. We're renting a condo and doing that whole bit. We don't get down there all that often, which is weird because we're four or four and a half hours from the beach, but that's always a good option.
The beach condo life, yeah.
Yeah, just going down there for three or four nights. My summer vacation doesn't really fit our no flying theme this week, but it's kind of, it is what a lot of folks are doing this summer.
We're going to Scotland, and Europe is the place to be this summer.
Europe is hot. But if you can't make it to Europe this summer, there's tons of stuff to do here in the good United States.
Yep, that's true. We've talked about before, I'm a huge fan of the road trip too. Jeff, when you road trip, are you a stop for historical markers and hokum type person, or are you, getting to the golf shores as quick as you can.

[4:12] Depends on... no, typically not. When Wyatt was little, we did do that because he had to get out and, you know, to keep from losing his mind in the car.
If it's a shortish thing, like four hours, I want to get down there as quick as possible.
Nobody's allowed to pee. You just go.
But when I had a little one, we would stop at places so I would, you know, figure out what might be an interesting place to stop.
I feel like that's your style, Dan, that you would have every piece of hokum between your home and your destination marked out. Absolutely.
I love me a good mystery spot. I love a good weird rock formation. Yeah.
I wish I was more like that. I feel like I don't have long enough of a trip scheduled or time off work or those kinds of things in my life to do that.
You're a lady of leisure.

[5:06] Just take the time. days, but I'd like to do one time is go somewhere and plot my course along that guy, Fieri's diners, drive-ins and dives route.
Cause I love that show and that kind of food. And I would love someday to do that.
Well, my brother and I recently last year moved my mom from Kansas back to Alabama.
And when we drove back, I thought, Oh, how fun it would be to stop along the way at a couple of those places.
But then after, you know, packing and moving a hoarder for 10 days, all I wanted to do is drive home as quickly as possible.
So we threw that out the window pretty quickly, but I would still love to do that sometime just to an eating trip. Well, yeah.
And that was one of the ideas that I had that we wanted to talk about is.

[5:57] Pick a theme, whether it's you're going to one city to explore something that fits in that theme, or if you plan a road trip and go across the country or something, you know, if there's a certain part of history you're interested in, certain type of food, hit up diners, go to Kentucky and do the bourbon trail.
That's on my list. Yeah, I mean, there's tons of things. When I spent my day in Los Angeles, I was trying to fit too many, like I could have spend a whole day pursuing any of the multiple threads that I was researching in that area.
Yeah, LA is a great example of every kind of interest that you have. Like you could do, I would like to do tiki bars all over the LA and even all the way up into northern California.
There's a ton of tiki history there. That could be a several day adventure in itself.
I mean all around the country. I've seen guys who they spend their whole year. They're just, Driving around going to the tiki bars and everything you bar in every state or at least all the best ones.

[6:58] We have the best tiki bar right here in Grand Rapids. I don't need to drive, We do absolutely do but then that you don't have the history. That's true. It is only four years old But I think some of the old buzz would be really neat right and a lot of them aren't surviving So you better see him quick.
Yeah, they are. They are shutting down. Yeah.

[7:21] Tiki, urban, so many different things. Then like in LA, you could do Tiki for a few days and then you can do, of course, all the Disney history, like Dan got to do a lot of and a lot of music, history, there's, I, mean, there's so many different threads you can do.
Record labels, movie studios, of course, a lot of that stuff.
I've always thought it'd be cool to do historic Route 66 also.
And that's another one that those things are disappearing quicker and quicker.
Would you even want to consider trying to get your kicks while doing that?
I mean, what else does one do on Route 66? I guess that is what you do.
Oh, so there's this trend in travel, and this is one of the hot travel trends of 2023, apparently.
Have you heard of set jetting?
No, I have not. Tell us. All right. Are you dyslexic, or is this a new thing?
I am absolutely not dyslexic. Like this is set jetting, not jet setting.
So what you do is this is, this is travel that's inspired by locations from your favorite TV series.
Oh yeah. It can be movies too, but the set, like TV set. I get it.
I get it. And and.

[8:30] It's a lot of it's kind of inspired, I think, mostly by some of the bigger prestige TV shows.
For a while now, people have been flocking to like Croatia, where a lot of the locations from Game of Thrones can be found.
You know, I've never watched an episode.
Really? Yes, I do know that. I've heard that.
We've heard that one or two times. But one of the shows that really kind of sparked this off, last year was that White Lotus series where there's what, two seasons now and they're working on the third and each time it's kind of been set in a different area, a tropical resort and so people are flocking to the resource that they visit on that show.
Yeah, if you in Hawaii you could do season one White Lotus, you could see the sets for The locations were lost. There's some Jurassic Park in that same region is lost.
Right, exactly. I mean, people are headed, I mean, even like Yellowstone, I know that, headed out to Wyoming, Montana for that big sky country kind of thing.

[9:43] Is a destination. Disney, Adventures by Disney, just put out a new itinerary that kind of plays into this set-jetting thing. It's one of the brand new itineraries that they announced for this year, and it's going to Colombia next year in 2024 to see all— I always wanted to go there.
Probably for different reasons, because this trip is to highlight the regions of the country that inspired Encanto.
Oh. And so it's going to be an eight-day, seven-night trip with guided tours in Bogota, visit to a coffee farm, you can learn to make arepas just like Mama Madrigal.
If I was going to consider Columbia, I would go with Disney, definitely.
I would feel safe going with Disney.
But I do have to admit that Columbia has never been on my bucket list for a variety of reasons.
Yeah, it kind of gets a bad rap.
I want to go there and get one of their famous neckties. It looks gorgeous.
And so it gives you an opportunity, they're really highlighting the storytelling and the, music of the country.

[11:04] In this itinerary. So they also announced a couple of other new ones while we're talking about it as well. They're doing an Atlantic coast of Canada and the Maritime Provinces.
It's going to be a new trip so you can go to Nova Scotia, that side of the country, visit a maple farm, learn about the indigenous culture there. And then also they've got a.

[11:31] New Zealand itinerary.
I would love to see New Zealand. I really would love to see New Zealand.
You'll see all of New Zealand because this is a 12-day trip.
I wonder if this is better than Zeeland because it kind of sucked.
Let me tell you, Zeeland.
We have a Zeeland. At least a Zeeland I'm familiar with. You're in the West Michigan area.
We do have a Zeeland, yes.
It's a three-intersection town and you've seen it all, so yeah.
Where all of Dan's children were born.
Yes. Oh, have a nice hospital outside of that. Yeah. Not a lot going for it.
They build furniture there.
But yeah, so, so set jetting. I love when I come across the location or whatever, somewhere.
A lot of times in New York, you'll come across, Hey, that's where the Ghostbusters fire station I've seen and a bunch of things like that.
Yeah. Yeah, Heather mentioned the friends diner. I just saw that in November.
Oh yeah. And I saw a coffee shop.
I saw on the map where I was looking at the map for New York city.
Cause I'll be there in a couple of months.
I saw where the apartment building it's see the friend's apartment. You want to, yeah.
With the coffee shop right below. Okay.

[12:50] Yeah. So that's on the map. It's probably not going to happen in my itinerary, but if you want to Set shedding, that's a lot of fun.
You know, we talk a lot about theme parks, but...

[13:01] We're also fans of just kind of good old-fashioned amusement parks.
Yeah, we've got a great one not far from us here in Michigan.
On the Michigan Adventure? No, actually I was thinking of Cedar Point, but Michigan's Adventure is not a bad day trip.
That's there's a few fun things there.
I've got Alabama Splash Adventure right here by me. That sounds messy.
Yeah, I was thinking more of Cedar Point down in Pandusky, Ohio.
They have a huge thrilling roller coasters at Cedar Point.
Yeah, they're the roller coaster capital of the world. I hear that's what I've heard.
Yeah, that's definitely a great location. It's all those as they were president.
Roller coaster works. Yeah.
Of course, in the I have no funds for you. Knott's Berry Farm is the location that I eventually have to visit.

[13:58] I was there when I was a tiny lad near Disneyland. I would like to visit that one too.
It looks, they've got cool stuff.
So but so yeah, amusement park who doesn't love berries. Six Flags Magic Mountain is not far from Disneyland as well, right?
They have some crazy big thrill rides out there. Before it was acquired by Six Flags, it was just called Magic Mountain.
Right, yeah, and that's one of the less objectionable Six Flags, I think.
Six Flags tends to be a little on the hit-or-miss. So yeah, we love a good amusement park vacation.
About themed trips, road trips.

[14:41] I'm not a fan of driving, just like that whole hit the open road thing. I just don't love it.
I like getting there, and I will drive, but I just don't like actually being in the car.
Right. I understand it. It's such a quintessentially American thing, though, right?
It always sounds glamorous, and like, I'm gonna get out here and put my tunes on, and as soon as I do, everyone in the car starts talking, and like, ugh.
That's the problem. Everybody else in the car, right? Yeah. So you need to pick your car mates more selectively or ditch them and go hang out with Guy Fieri on your own.
That's right. In his Camaro. And then after you're in, talking like that all the time.
You apply for the position as assistant mayor of Flavortown.
Deputy mayor. Deputy mayor. Yeah. Changing my profile with that.
I'm the comptroller of Flavortown. Oh, that's fantastic.
A really hot vacation for the summer that we've been noticing is cruising is back, baby.
That's right. Cruises are the way to go, especially, you know, a cruise vacation is really an all-inclusive.

[15:54] And that's kind of a theme I'm noticing for this summer is people want people love a vacation and where they've paid for everything, and then all they have to worry about on vacation is just relaxing and having fun.
And- Like how Disney used to be. Used to be. With the dining place. Yeah. Right.
And has gotten away from that, but apart from actual all-inclusives in Mexico, and Jamaica, and some places around the Caribbean, the cruise is kind of the same deal.
All your food is included, and you've paid for it, and you can drive to a lot of the cruise ports in the US.
There's a ton of them in Florida, but if you do want to, you're not afraid of the airfare this summer, flying to a cruise destination is a great idea.
There's a lot of great cruise deals that are still out there right now, particularly on Royal Caribbean and Virgin.
Yeah, Virgin's still paying airfare, not paying airfare, but reimbursing basically airfare, right?
Yeah, there's, they, if you want to- For their European sailings.
For their European sailings on the Resilient Lady, which is launching next week.
They'll give you up to 1,200 bucks towards airfare on any of their, I guess they're doing Med?
A lot of the Greek Isles and Mediterranean ports this summer.

[17:16] Yep, also, is that the Adriatic? Yes, and that is a beautiful destination for a summer vacation.
I would love to do that. I had pretty much never heard of Dubrovnik, But after I was looking at pictures, that looks amazing. Beautiful.
Yeah, go look up the article, the episode of somebody feed Phil where he visits, your attic. It's all those spots that'll make you more enthusiastic about that location.
Yeah, there's still last-minute cruise deals to be had. Like we said, Virgin is always putting them out. Cruise ports, a lot of people forget about in the U.S. Galveston, New Orleans. There's Great. I see always even with Disney Cruise Line, I see great deals out of Galveston.
I'd love to visit New Orleans and you can. I watched the other one and it's not as much Jacksonville or wherever that is.

[18:11] And those give you an opportunity to to tack on a day or two before or after, do some exploring around the cities. I'm a huge advocate of is kind of taking a look at these destinations, domestic spots that you can go to that, you know, they're not, maybe not necessarily be the big beach destination, but you can find amazing things to do.
Tom P. Speaking of this, New Orleans is a great city to wander around. It's beautiful.
I've always wanted to visit. That's on my list of places to visit someday.
Tom P. It's a great family destination. My brother-in-law just took his whole family and kids there, and they got the World War II Museum, and world-class aquarium, tons of stuff there for families, and those above-ground cemeteries are just gorgeous. A lot of ghost tours. Yeah, it's not just—you think of it as just gross debauchery for Mardi Gras, and there's that too, but it's a great family destination as well. It doesn't have to be all of it, is what you're saying. Yeah. If you're looking for it, you'll find it. Yeah, you'll find it.
You'll find, but I mean that's most of these, most of these destinations, that's what you're going to, you're going to find what you're looking for.

[19:22] So that's, unless you're you too. Yeah, but I mean, eventually one day.
And beaches, if you are a beach person, the United States has a lot of really beautiful beaches, and some of the beaches maybe you wouldn't consider.
That's right. Right here in West Michigan. The vast inland sea.
Yes, Lake Michigan is a beautiful beach and it's salt-free, no sharks.

[19:52] Some of the top-rated beaches in America are along Lake Michigan near Saugatuck.
We have the beautiful white sand without the salt water.
That's right, and sharks. You can visit the vacation town featured in American Pie when you head to Grand Haven, Michigan.
I love Grand Haven. So there's another set jetting, see? We're working on synergy here. Yes.
We have the biggest sand dune in America, Sleeping Bear Dunes, it's a popular spot.
Have you ever climbed up Sleeping Bear Dune?
I've got a confession to make. I've never been to Sleeping Bear Dunes.
I don't recommend it. It's on my list to go to eventually. It's very steep.
A lot of sand probably too. I'd like to go there with a dirt bike or an ATV.
I don't think you can do that on that dune. They don't let you get out on dunes.
There's dunes near there.
Near there, yes, but they don't want you to erode the biggest dune in North America with your dirt bike.
I mean, they've got plenty of it to spare. It's like beaches, they don't let you get on any dunes with that crap and around gulf and stuff here in Michigan, they're protected. There are places here in Michigan.
Is it silver Lake? Cause they're not real silver Lake. There's a lot of dune buggying and such that happens there.

[21:10] Yeah. No, it's like fun. That's because your crap inland seas aren't real.
Stop it. Lake Michigan is beautiful.
Lake Michigan beaches are gorgeous.
I saw you rolling your eyes when we brought it up. I mean, there's even like, you know, you think of a beach vacation, most people think of heading somewhere like the Gulf Shores or the Outer Banks or Florida.
There's plenty of beaches in New England. Some of them might be rocky and uninviting to the people who want to lay out in the sun, but you know, still, there's still some beautiful locations out there.
A big great seafood and all that stuff. It's a different kind of experience. Beautiful views.
One of the best days, I like wearing a parka when I'm at the beach.
One of the best days we spent a few years ago.
That's true, it's been chilly.
So, but yeah, I mean, there's beaches everywhere in America.
You don't have to just go to- I recently have visited several times the, down along the A1A in the Fort Lauderdale area.
You can sing Ice Ice Baby while you're cruising along. There's a lot, it's really pretty down there.
And I, there's lots of great beachfront restaurants where you can have delicious seafood.
A lot of butt cheeks. That's true, yeah.
It does happen.
When did that become? But I like that for Fort Lauderdale, you know, Miami is a bit more expensive.

[22:40] You can find some really great places to stay along those beaches if you venture a little bit further afield of Miami and go with Fort Lauderdale or Hollywood. There's some really great places to stay that are a little less expensive but still beautiful beaches. Yeah, they might not be trendy but like what do you really need when you're going on a beach vacation? That's true. You need True.
Some clean sand and some water and the sun, right?
So, restaurants. I require nice restaurants and bars as well.
I can't sit on the beach all day.
That's true. Or even very long of the day. Yeah. Enough of the day to get you between lunch and second lunch.
Yes. High tea. That's right. Then from high tea until the cocktail hour.
Yep. Go back out on the deck. And also a great thing for summer vacation in the US is renting an RV out west.
There's a ton of stuff to see out there and if you're the type who likes to camp but doesn't really want to be like tent camping, which is not my thing, you can rent a very nice RV for a reasonable amount of money and go see Yellowstone and all that stuff out there.
Mobile glamping. The Grand Canyon. Yeah, I mean, that's one thing that we are, yeah, we are really lucky to have, I mean.

[23:56] National park system that we have just has some of the most amazing places that you can see and they're just out there to visit and you don't have to you know you're not going to be hiking miles and miles to go see this wonderful view driving through the park and getting out of the parking lot and walk maybe 50 yards to see the most breathtaking thing you've ever seen. You're, I'm gonna be stopped in the road because there's an entire herd of bison running in front of you.

[24:27] And those are a great option to spend some time in the summer. You're going to, see amazing things. We should really thank President Woody Harrelson for starting.
Sure. That's exactly the one. I think your fact might be a little bit off, but...
Close enough. Close enough. I'll fix it in post. I won't fix it in post. I won't do that.
I'm pretty sure that's right. Yeah. Sounds good to me.
We've got anything else on our list? Any other cool things to do this summer that might be a little...
Let me just get out there and go somewhere. Yeah. We can help you do any of it.
Yeah. All of those things. That's right.
Yeah, anywhere you want to go. I think the one thing that is on my bucket list that's become very trendy recently is luxury train travel. wherever that is.
Closer to home, there's a lot of great routes in Canada.
Alaska, Alaska Rail has some really cool stuff. Really, really beautiful train travel you can do there in the summer.

[25:31] My bucket list definitely includes the Orient Express and some of those really fancy routes in Europe, but we have a lot here in the U.S. too.
More North America.
Our Amtrak travel here in the U.S. is not exactly what I would call glamorous.
I want to take a train through Indiana.
But up in the Canadian Rockies and in Canada and British Columbia, they have some great That what's that one line called the Rocky Mountain? Is it the Rocky Mountaineer that it yes No, and that one starts. I think set the one that starts in Vancouver and then comes down through the Pacific Northwest Yeah, that looks sick. Yeah, and they just like you, Sit on a train and eat amazing food and look out the window at amazing sights the entire time, When I was eight years old, we were moving back from we'd lived overseas and we're moving back to Alabama and we flew into, Seattle and then took the train all the way across the country zigzagging up and down and really down because we went all over the place, then wound up.

[26:41] Alabama and just spent two weeks riding the train all up and down. We'd stop at certain cities for a couple of days and then just did train all the way across and had everything from normal seats to some of those little cars like Harry Potter's little car. I love that. Everything in between. It was great and, but we were in the dining car and the observation car with the glass thing and the diner cars, and it was really a very memorable trip for me and my brothers, and I would love to do that again someday.
That's some of what I'm really looking forward to in Scotland this summer is we're taking the train from Edinburgh to Inverness and then Inverness to Glasgow.
I'm excited about that part. They're not super long.
I think each leg is only about four hours, but looking at the scenery that you see on on those trips is just, it's, I'm really excited about that.

[27:40] Tick tocks where it's train trips in, I guess it's the Alps.
Oh yeah. It's just like these amazing train vistas through the Alps.
Oh my God. That sounds cool.
Just like rounds the corners, like the most beautiful green mountain views you've ever seen through these little, this little farms and stuff. Like I want to go on whatever train that is.
It's not an insignificant amount of money to get to Europe right now from here.
Airfare is high this summer.
Gotta be at least 40 bucks a person. But once you're there, there's so much you can do with train travel.
So many places you can pick a central spot to start and then they have just, they know how to handle trains.
So many high-speed trains.
From Paris you can get to England.

[28:34] Down to Italy. It probably occurs to them to maintain the empire down there. Yes, that's also true.
We have some struggles with that. It's definitely a great way to get around the continent. For sure.
As many places as you can fit into whatever sector you have.
Someday I'd love to do that there is a London to Edinburgh on the Royal Scotsman. That looks.

[28:58] Very cool and kind of posh. Do you like posh things Heather? I do.
I want to travel from between London and Edinburgh the way the Queen did on her own personal train.
One of the things I'm going to do in Edinburgh this summer is go see the Royal Yacht that's, parked and is now a museum.
The Britannia. This is Britannia. Yes.
I like stuff like that. You need to see. Wow. Aren't you fancy? I'm an Anglophile.
Must be nice to be a billionaire. It would be nice.
Then I'd be going to space this summer. If I was a billionaire. Yes, that's true.
If only we could all be Bond villains. Yes, that's my goal for my life.
I want to end up Bond villain rich like Elon.
Yeah, but not an asshole. Yeah, yeah. I want to be fun loving like Richard Branson.
Yeah, I just want to be friends with Richard. Yes, that's fair.
Close enough friends that he'll invite me to do cool. Yeah, you'll do all the stuff.
I don't have to be responsible for running a multi-billion dollar business empire. That's a good point.
Yeah, that sounds good. Let's do that. Let's do that.
Right now, I'm going to say thanks for hanging out with us again.
If you're excited to plan the summer vacation of your dreams, or explore anywhere else around the world any other time of year, Key to the Road Travel has the Grand Canyon.

[30:25] The Grand Canyon full of expert travel planners, and they're ready to make your vacation dreams a reality.
Head to to get started with a no-obligation quote.
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Can't wait to hang out with you again, and we'll see you real soon. Hi, guys.
Y'all come back now, you hear?
To ask a question or share your travel story, you can reach us by smoke signal, carrier pigeon, or send an email to goldkeyadventures at
And make sure you follow the Gold Key Adventure Society on Facebook and Instagram.
A huge thanks to our sponsor, Key to the World Travel, For all your travel planning needs, visit for a free quote, and help planning the trip of a lifetime.
Tell them the gold Key Adventurers sent you.
That's Key to the World Travel, your key to a magical vacation.

[31:40] Music.

[31:46] Thanks to Outer Vibe for the use of their song Hoka Hey for the intro and outro of our Find them on Facebook at The Outer Vibe or check out for tour dates, music, merch, and more.

[31:59] Music.

[32:08] We'll see you next week for another meeting of the Gold Key Adventurer's Society.
And until then, remember, life is short and the world is wide, so go have an adventure.