3 vacation spots outside the US, passport not required

3 vacation spots outside the US, passport not required
Photo Credit To Steve Simonsen/The New York Times

If don’t have a passport, but you’ve been wanting to take a quick trip out of the United States, you have a few appealing alternatives that give you a different cultural experience without the pricey international flight. And there all nearby.

“Several places within a short trip from the Capital District feel as if you’ve traveled much farther away,” says Kathy Wood, co-owner of Wood Travel in Schenectady, New York. “Leave in the early morning, and you’ll be there by afternoon to enjoy the sights.”

San Juan, Puerto Rico
Why go? Located in the northeastern Caribbean, Puerto Rico is an unincorporated U.S. territory with more than 270 miles of white sand beaches and a tropical climate. The island’s coastal capital, San Juan, offers a mix of scenic beauty, nightlife and the historic appeal of Old San Juan.

Visit El Morro, a fortress built in 1539 that overlooks San Juan Bay, or Castillo San Cristobal, the largest fort ever built by Spain in the New World. About 25 miles away, you can hike and enjoy amazing views and the wildlife in El Yunque National Forest, the only subtropical rain forest in the US National Forest system. Go surfing, paddle boarding, kiteboarding or just relax on one of the popular beaches such as Isla Verde.

Must see: Book a kayak or pontoon boat tour to Mosquito Bay, Vieques, to see the glowing bioluminescent organisms light up the water.

ID required: Driver’s license or other government-issued photo identification. The TSA advises carrying your birth certificate, as well.

U.S. Virgin Islands (St. Croix, St. John, St. Thomas)
Why go? Called “America’s Paradise,” it’s warm year round in the Virgin Islands—the average winter temperature hovers around 77 degrees. Just 1,100 miles from Miami, it’s an easy flight to great shopping, swimming and nature watching. You can even island hop!

On St. Croix, explore an 18th century plantation or tour rum distilleries, part of the island’s colonial history.

St. Thomas offers an active nightlife, fine dining and duty-free shopping, especially for jewelry and gems.

Two-thirds of tiny St. John is a national park, so you can hike through pristine wilderness, past sugar plantation ruins and ancient petroglyph rock carvings.

Must see: Enjoy the powdery white sands and underwater snorkeling trail of Trunk Bay in St. John.

ID required: Driver’s license or other government-issued photo identification. The TSA advises carrying your birth certificate, as well.

Quebec City, Canada
Why go? The city boasts a distinctly European flavor, but it’s less than seven hours north of the Capital District by car.

Walk within the walls of the only remaining fortified city in North America. Stroll Quartier Petit Champlain, a charming waterside boulevard lined with bistros and boutiques. Soak up 300 years of history at the Citadel, the largest British fortress built in North America, and watch the traditional changing of the guard. Splurge and spend the night at the historic Chateau Frontenac—or at least walk through the magnificent lobby.

Must see: Stroll the streets of Old Quebec with its centuries-old architecture, cobblestone ways and quaint cafes, boutiques and art galleries.
ID required: You have a few options when driving across the Canadian border:

  • an enhanced driver’s license (which serves as both proof of citizenship and a photo ID)
  • a passport card (a less expensive alternative to a passport)
  • your birth certificate with a government-issued photo ID

By Arricca SanSone

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