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destination | weekend breaks Washington DC


n GO FOR: Inspiring education and culture. n WHY: DC has, simply put, the greatest collection of museums in the world. But attempting to trudge through all the Smithsonians in one weekend will have you weeping through overkill, so pick a couple based on the topics you’re most interested in — although the National Air & Space Museum and National Museum of Natural History are justifiably popular with all-comers. While many are free, don’t overlook museums


with an entrance charge. Te Newseum offers a fascinating look at how the media works and the International Spy Museum is a fun insight into Washington’s espionage industry. n WHEN: If the heat isn’t an issue, summer weekends tend to have DC’s best hotel bargains. May is the peak season for school groups. n STAY: Te Willard InterContinental is steeped in history — it’s where Martin Luther King Jr finished his ‘I Have A Dream’ speech. Doubles from $339. washington.intercontinental.com n WHERE NEXT: Te Constitution Center and Independence Hall in Philadelphia check the history boxes, while the Barnes Foundation and Museum of Art feed the creative side. n


Jefferson Memorial, Washington DC. Below: Whale shark, Isla Mujeres


Washington DC has the greatest collection of museums in the world and the National Musuem of History is justifiably popular with all-comers


Isla Mujeres


n GO FOR: A mellower, island-style take on the Mexican resort scene. n WHY: A short ferry ride from the far more intense and party-hard Cancun, Isla Mujeres still has enough of a taste of village life about it. It hasn’t completely succumbed to its mainland neighbor’s Margaritaville and Senor Frog takeover yet. Part of that shows in the somewhat ad-hoc tour


industry. Visitors who want to go snorkeling or see the friendly, neighborhood whale sharks can haggle with boatmen at the wharf to take them out. Wildlife lovers will also enjoy the turtle farm, where turtle eggs are hatched and reared


80 | ASTAnetwork | summer 2014


to give the youngsters a fighting chance when they return to the sea. Meanwhile, the ruins at the Templo de Ixchel


are at Mexico’s most easterly point, and make a good spot for watching the sun rise. You can catch the sun set over the water from Playa Norte, which makes for a fabulously sheltered beach experience the rest of the day. n WHEN: Humidity levels are lowest between December and April, although whale sharks are best seen in August and September. n STAY: Two-bedroom condos at Nautibeach on Playa Norte from $160 a night. nautibeach.com n WHERE NEXT: Te Bay Islands off the coast of Honduras have that balance of lazy Caribbean life, Latin American spirit and a high enough standard of accommodation and activities.


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