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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

Winter is the perfect time for a delightful new experience, whether you take advantage of a cold climate or flee to someplace warm. Our 25 choices include snow and ski destinations, sun and sand locales, cultural spots, adventure and outdoors sites, and foodie getaways. We offer options that families can enjoy as well as alternatives that are most appealing to adults.

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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

Taos, New Mexico

The high desert town of Taos is known for its Pueblo, a community of Native Americans, and as a haven for artists; it attracted Georgia O'Keefe, Ansel Adams, and Aldous Huxley, among others. The town's adobe buildings and central plaza speak to its Spanish colonial history. Taos, flanked by the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, has become a top skiing destination. Half of the rugged Taos Ski Valley's slopes are expert-rated, and it has a thrilling 3000-foot drop from the 12,000-foot summit of Kachina Peak. Fuel up in the morning with a plate of huevos rancheros at one of the many excellent Mexican and New Mexican restaurants in the area. Non-skiers can visit Pueblo communities; shop at Taos' many galleries featuring Native American art, crafts, and jewelry; or sip a fine mezcal by the fire at the 19th century Taos Inn.

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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

Boulder, Colorado

Boulder is the Berkeley of the Rockies—much of it New Age and home to former hippies, but also home to a huge University of Colorado campus and outposts of both Google and Amazon. It's frequently named one of the healthiest places in America, thanks to a never-ending menu of organic farm-to-table dining and many parks and outdoor activities, including rock and ice climbing, hiking, fly fishing, and mountain biking. Boulder locals happily schuss and board on the wide-open slopes and terrain parks at Eldora and Loveland. The bigger mountains of Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, and Vail are within 2 hours. Après-skiers can hoist a local pint at one of the town's 19 craft breweries or indulge in a relaxing CBD-oil massage. Entertainment, shopping, and eats can always be found at the city's four-block pedestrian mall, Pearl Street.

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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

Snowshoe, West Virginia

In the east, Snowshoe fits the bill for those who want the feeling of a big mountain resort without having to get on a plane. Snowshoe Mountain Resort, complete with a cobblestoned European-style central village, is set in the stunning Monongahela National Forest. The summit is at only 4848 feet, but the 244 acres of skiable terrain get more snow than surrounding areas because of both the lake effect and nor'easter blasts. The runs include 59 trails and a back-of-the-mountain downhill area with a trail designed by Olympian Jean-Claude Killy. Tubing areas, terrain parks, and cross-country routes round out on-mountain sports offerings. Snowshoe has luxury condos and villas, as well as more economy-oriented lodges. Kids can burn energy off-mountain at the 15,000–square-foot Big Top, an indoor playground with slides, bouncy houses, movies, and a climbing wall.

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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

Innsbruck, Tyrol, Austria

This western Austrian state of Tyrol, bordered by Germany, Lichtenstein, and Italy, offers the quintessential picture postcard view of the Austrian Alps: snow-capped granite peaks, glacier-fed lakes, and lush green valleys populated with cattle, wood-framed farm houses, and lederhosen-clad locals. Innsbruck is the capital of a state that boasts 79 ski resorts, from the glitzy, party-central St. Anton with its 189 miles of trails, to East Tyrol's Grossglockner, offering stupendous views of its namesake 12,460-foot peak and the Italian Alps. Jetsetters hang in Ischgl, with its big-name concerts and raucous nightlife. Tour the Schnapps Route, covering some 41 artisanal distilleries. Tyrol is famed for its Christmas markets, folk traditions, and Swarovski crystal, best explored at Crystal Worlds, a blingy, over-the-top museum.

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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

Sarasota, Florida

The growing Gulf Coast city of 57,000 boasts sunshine, culture, sophisticated dining, and powdery beaches, including the public Lido strands. Downtown is full of high-rise condos, but the city is also known for the Sarasota School of Architecture. Culture vultures can soak up the arts at the Sarasota Opera or Ballet, or The Ringling, a fascinating complex that includes an art museum, a circus museum, and the Gatsbyesque Italianate mansion of the Ringling Bros. circus founder. Kayak through the mangroves off Siesta Key to see manatees, or view them through the glass at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium. Or hit the links at one of 32 golf courses, many public and semi-private.

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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

Lyon, France

This is the place to dig into a cassoulet or a pumpkin filled and baked with squash, bread, Gruyère, mushrooms, nutmeg, cream, and bacon. Lyon, at the confluence of the Rhone and Saône, is the center of French gastronomy and attracts foodies from around the globe to its 4000 restaurants. Les Halles de Lyon Paul Bocuse, an upscale food hall, features Lyon's finest butchers, charcutiers, fromagers, pastry chefs, and sommeliers. Typical Lyonnaise fare is served at the bouchons: cream- and butter-laden dishes, game, sausages, and, not for the faint of heart, offal. The vineyards of Beaujolais, Bourgogne, and Côte du Rhône are within a stone's throw. Lyon is a great walking town, with its medieval center and stone-buttressed bridges. Or burn off calories at the newly renovated 14th century Grand Hotel Dieu, a former abbey now full of shops, restaurants, public spaces, and a luxury hotel.

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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

Fiji

Way out in the South Pacific sits Fiji, a former British colony comprising a chain of 332 volcanic islands. Most residents live on Viti Levu, where tourists fly in. With its swanky resorts, often featuring thatched over-water bungalows, Fiji is a top honeymoon destination. But bargains can be found. Most visitors come for the underwater sights—more than 1500 species of fish and other sea creatures. Birdwatching, hiking, and diving the reef are the attractions on the garden island of Taveuni. Islanders are known for their love of church and rugby and are welcoming to tourists, who may be invited to partake of kava, a drink that can be sedating or mildly hallucinogenic. Many resorts offer a traditional pit-cooked lovo feast, similar to a luau. For another taste of local bounty, head to the bustling farmers market in Suva, the capital.

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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

Martinique

Looking to sit on a beach while sipping a fruity rum drink and gazing at green peaks and crystalline water? Martinique, about the size of New York City, offers that opportunity and more. The French possession has its own take on Gallic culture, cuisine, and language. Hikers flock to the slopes of Mont Pelée, an active volcano, while water adventures abound: stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, kitesurfing, fishing, and whale and dolphin watching. The southern Saint Anne Peninsula features some of the most idyllic palm-fringed beaches in the Caribbean and is populated with a bevy of resorts. Fewer hotels, and a surf school, are highlights of the unique Caravelle Peninsula, a protected nature preserve. In the bustling capital, Fort-de-France, it's worth visiting the central farmers market and main library, or walking the lush Balata Gardens.

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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

Panama

Panama offers a laid-back vibe, great surfing, rainforests, a volcano, and welcoming locals. Panama is also luring expats seeking a low-budget tropical retirement. Many are settling on the Azuero Peninsula on the Pacific, especially around colonial Pedasi, a 5-hour drive from the capital, Panama City. The city's skyline and dining scene rivals Miami's. The Panama Canal's inner workings can be explored at Miraflores Locks. Eco-tourism is hot in Boquete in the Chiriquí Highlands, where hiking, whitewater rafting, and rock climbing are on offer, and birders can view 500 of Panama's 972 species. Coiba National Park, a 38-island marine reserve on the Pacific with spectacular beaches, snorkeling, and diving, is a must. The best swimming beaches are found on islands like the San Blas chain. Consider staying on nearby Bastimentos Island at La Loma, a working chocolate farm.

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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

Bimini, Bahamas

Only 50 miles off of Miami, the 10 square miles of the Bimini islands get their share of Floridians seeking a different beach for the weekend. It's also becoming a quick getaway to a tropical paradise for East Coasters escaping a snow-bound existence. Close to the Gulf Stream, the islands have always attracted deep-sea fishing enthusiasts looking to land a tuna, marlin, or sailfish; Ernest Hemingway regularly boated over from Key West. Bimini has remained largely unchanged from his day, despite the construction of two large resorts, one with a casino. It's still a great place to loll in an infinity pool or dive or snorkel among one of the many wrecks that dot the crystal-clear waters. And it's still possible to go bone fishing in the morning and grab a Kalik beer and some conch salad for lunch before a well-deserved afternoon siesta.

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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

Barbados

This small outpost (15 x 20 miles) east of St. Vincent is best known as the land where rum began. After British colonizers established sugar cane crops brought from Africa in the late 17th century, Barbados became central to the rum and sugar trade. Rum is essential to tourism and the economy and is celebrated. Locals and tourists seeking down-home cooking and live music go to the Oistins Fish Fry, where vendors sell fresh-cooked fish, vegetables, and desserts. The west coast (the Platinum Coast) is studded with palm-backed beaches and packed with resorts—some all-inclusive, some adults-only—that feature golf courses, tennis courts, spas, swim-up bars, and English high tea service. Folkestone Marine Park has a small beach, a shipwreck reef, and a close-to-shore snorkeling reef. The more rustic east coast, where the Atlantic crashes in full-on fury, is a surfer's paradise.

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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

Shanghai, China

At the mouth of the Yangtze, Shanghai claims its spot as a global financial and shipping port and one of the world's most populous cities. It's an international hot spot, luring millionaires and billionaires with its fashion week, grand prix race, luxury shopping, and nightlife. One can dine on the finest Shanghai-centric cuisine, such as xiaolongbao (pork dumplings, Shanghai style). Or opt for fine dining with a view atop a 100-story skyscraper. The city is foodie overload. Walk the mile-long Bund, the riverfront promenade that showcases the colonial past and the modernistic present. Take a modern architecture tour in a jeep. Stroll through the 400-year-old Yuyuan botanical garden or plant yourself in the People's Square, now a gathering spot for picnics, tai chi, and ballroom dancers, and the site of the Shanghai Museum.

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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

Cape Town, South Africa

The first European settlement in South Africa, Cape Town was attractive for its temperate climate, fertile soil, and proximity to the Cape of Good Hope. The peninsular city, jutting into the Atlantic, is framed by 3563-foot Table Mountain. The peak is served by cable car and offers stunning panoramic views and hiking. Table Mountain also reportedly was a beacon of hope to Nelson Mandela, imprisoned across the bay at Robben Island. Now, Cape Town is an international destination. On Saturdays, head to Neighbourgoods, a market in the converted Old Biscuit Mill factory. Shopping, restaurants, and bars can be found at the hipster Long Street area, the Victoria and Albert waterfront, and St. George's Mall. The nation's oldest vineyard, the Dutch-founded Groot Constantia, is at the foot of Table Mountain.

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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

Lausanne, Switzerland

Facing the Swiss Alps on the shores of Lake Geneva, Lausanne is so picturesque that Coco Chanel spent her final years there. Even in winter, when daytime temperatures hover in the 40s, walkers, runners, bikers, and rollerbladers work out on the lakeside promenade. Lausanne is home to the International Olympic Committee and the interactive Olympic Museum, and it will host the winter Youth Olympics in January 2020. Take a city tour that includes the medieval Vieille Ville and the Notre Dame Cathedral. Reward yourself with cheese and chocolate, two of the city's greatest pleasures. The art scene is booming. Plateforme 10, a newly opened arts mega-complex by the rail station, joins some 20 museums in town, including the outsider art–focused Collection de l'Art Brut. Cruise down the lake or ride by rail to the gorgeous terraced vineyards of the Lavaux wine region.

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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

Singapore

The Lion City, a city-state at the tip of the Malay peninsula, is the largest port in southeast Asia. A former British outpost, English continues to be the primary language. The city's colonial heritage is easily seen, but the old is giving way to the very modern new. The city's dedication to the arts is evident at the Esplanade, a 60,000–square meter complex that offers dance, theater, concerts, and free shows, along with lessons and kid-specific entertainment. For a quick, cheap bite, hawker centers (food courts) are ubiquitous, with thousands of stalls to choose from. The city's Christmas in the Tropics is an over-the-top entertainment and shopping extravaganza, complete with gaudy lights and ornamented trees. Although it's a partying town, tourists are advised to be aware of Singapore's laws and customs, as some behavior can draw fines.

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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

Rajasthan, India

The "land of kings" in northwestern India is known for its craftsmanship and spectacular palaces, remnants of the two dozen royal principalities that existed prior to independence. A huge swath is covered by the Thar Desert, where nomads and tourists roam on camelback. Thousands converge each winter in Pushkar for the Camel Fair, where gaily festooned camels are bought and sold. The Elephant Festival occurs in Jaipur in March, when non-native pachyderms are richly appointed in embroidered rugs and jewelry and painted with Indian motifs. Jaipur is renowned for wood-block printing, carpets, metalwork, and jewelry-making. The City Palace; Amber Fort; Water Palace; and the pink, five-story Palace of the Winds are all must-sees. Udaipur is more westernized, attracting backpackers and wealthier tourists. In the middle of a town lake, created in the 14th century, is the Jagmandir Island Palace, now luxury lodging.

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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

Cambodia

This nation's turbulent modern history may be uppermost in tourists' minds, but Cambodia's ancient history is the main draw. Millions visit the Angkor Wat temple complex each year. Cambodian Khmer empires ruled most of southeast Asia from the first through the 15th century, creating a rich architectural, archaeological, religious (Buddhist), and artistic heritage. French colonial buildings remain in Battambang, and several temples nearby beckon as well, including Wat Banan, a prototype for Angkor Wat. Archaeologists recently found another huge medieval city complex buried in the jungle, called Mahendraparvata. It's 30 miles from Angkor Wat and a few hundred years older. After the history lessons, head for Cambodia's beaches. Koh Rong Island is a favorite of backpackers and the party crowd, but Long Beach is unspoiled and quiet.

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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

Torres del Paine and Southern Chile

At the far southern tip of Chile lies the 700–square mile Torres del Paine National Park, known for the three 9000-foot craggy granite spears that give the park its name, as well as for glaciers, raging waterfalls, and cerulean lakes. The ride up is punctuated by cowboys herding cattle and grazing guanacos (a relative of the camel). The guanaco abundance has sustained a growing puma population. Andean condors soar above the peaks, while Chilean flamingos prance across the lakes, and Darwin's rheas peck their way through scrublands. Tour operators offer all-inclusive trekking, glacier-spotting, and boating trips. But less scripted hiking is possible, including hut-to-hut routes. The 50-mile-long W trail is a popular route, passing through three valleys and allowing access to the namesake peaks and the 8-mile-long Grey Glacier. Reservations are a must for campsites and huts.

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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

Palau, Micronesia

This tiny republic in the South Pacific is considered one of the world's finest diving spots. English is an official language and the US dollar is accepted. Experienced divers hook into dead coral at Blue Corner off Ngemelis Island, where the reef drops into an abyss. The strong current attracts schools of fish, hawksbill turtles, eels, barracuda, white-tip sharks, and Napoleon wrasse. Snorkelers can check out 100-year-old giant clams on Ngemelis, or explore sunken Japanese and American aircraft. Hike through the jungle to cascading falls or former Japanese bunkers. Palau has gone to great pains to conserve its resources; it created a National Marine Sanctuary that protects 80% of its waters, established the world's first shark sanctuary, and jails poachers. Upon landing, visitors sign a pledge to protect the environment.

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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

La Paz, Baja, Mexico

Want to snorkel with sea lions and swim with whale sharks? La Paz, right on the Sea of Cortez, is guaranteed to satisfy your dreams. Ditch the thousands of tourists in Cabo San Lucas and drive 100 miles north to the less developed La Paz where, in the winter, huge gray and humpback whales can be seen breaching just offshore. Much of the underwater action can be experienced at the government-protected Isla Espíritu Santo, a 23,000-acre island reachable by boat from La Paz. Many tour operators supplement the underwater and beachside fun with chef-cooked picnics; some have glamping areas for overnight visits. Island visitors can snorkel, kayak, hike, and birdwatch. Back in La Paz, drive out on the peninsula to the east and rest your bones on Playa Tecolote, an uncrowded sandy expanse where cars park on the beach and bathers walk into the shallow turquoise waters.

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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

White Mountains, New Hampshire

You can get your heart pumping in the White Mountains. With 60-100 inches of snowfall, snowshoers are almost guaranteed to have well-dusted trails. Lincoln, Franconia, and Conway all are good launch pads for exploring the White Mountain National Forest and its myriad trails. For a serious workout, try the Lonesome Lake Trail, which connects to the summit of Cannon Mountain, a 4000-plus-foot peak where Bode Miller learned to ski. The Appalachian Mountain Club maintains a "hut" at the summit where hikers can have a hot meal—taking the edge off of the unheated bunkrooms. On off days, head up Mt. Washington on a snow coach tour, or zip line, dog sled, or snowmobile in the winter wonderland. And when your muscles are screaming, you'll have your choice of deep tissue massages and relaxing therapeutic soaks at one of the many spas in the region.

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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver is a melting pot, making it a foodie's paradise. The culinary epicenter is the Public Market on Granville Island, an artistic haven that buzzes with creativity. You'll find local bounty—elk, salmon, juniper berries, spot prawns, oysters, truffles, and wines—along with purveyors from around the globe. Name a country and it's represented in the city's food halls, restaurants, and along the 3-mile Commercial Drive. Being in such close proximity to the Pacific makes for great sushi and seafood meals, and ramen and dim sum are unparalleled. A local favorite is the food truck Japadog, serving Japanese-influenced hot dogs topped with fried onions, teriyaki sauce, Japanese mayo, and seaweed. Book a foodie tour to get in on all the action. Then walk it all off in one of the city's 200-plus parks, including the 1000-acre Stanley Park.

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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

Santa Barbara, California

While wining and dining around this coastal city, known as the American Riviera, you might run into some celebrity residents. They, like tourists, are drawn to Santa Barbara for its quintessential California vibe—palm trees, tropical blooms, Mission-style buildings with red-tiled roofs, and sweeping ocean vistas. The foodie scene is booming. Chefs from Melbourne, Manhattan, and Chicago have recently set up shop. Treat yourself to a scoop at McConnell's, in business since 1949. Quick and tasty noshes are on offer at the small Santa Barbara Public Market. Test your mettle on the Urban Wine Trail, which features 31 wineries. Many are in downtown's Funk Zone, an urban playground of cafés, galleries, shops, and restaurants. Burn off calories astride a pony on the beach or take a guided kayaking trip through the marine sanctuary at the Channel Islands.

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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

Bruges, Belgium

The port city of Bruges is a Flemish Venice, with colorful medieval homes perched on scenic canals. You'll find a plethora of art, including the Groeningemuseum, which features the 15th century work of Flemish Primitives up through post-war modern art. Chocolate has been elevated to a fine art in Bruges; there's an artisanal maker on practically every corner. Six of Bruges' restaurants have achieved Michelin-star status, and two cooking schools crank out chefs who fuel a competitive cooking scene. Outdoor street markets offer a cornucopia of produce, fish, cheese, bread, and, on the weekends, antiques and locally made products, including the renowned Belgian lace. It's easy to pick up a tasty nosh on the street. In early February, Belgian beer lovers descend for the Beer Festival. Visit one of the celebrated beer cellars, where brews made by monks are served in underground vaulted, centuries-old cave-like bars. Tour the De Halve Maan brewery, in operation since 1856, or the Bruges Beer Experience, an interactive museum.

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25 Exciting Winter Vacations for Doctors

Alicia Ault | October 25, 2019 | Contributor Information

Budapest, Hungary

With fast Internet and a cheaper cost of living, Budapest has attracted legions of expats and digital nomads. That's given a modern glow to the old Communist stronghold. Fabulous food and wine have followed. Hipsters flock to the Seventh District (the Jewish Quarter), a hotbed of experimentation—and partying—where "ruin" bars were born and chefs serve up fusion foods in graffiti-tagged buildings. The ruin bars, dives inside of dilapidated pre-war structures, are top attractions. Budapest ("The Pearl of the Danube") still retains some of its glorious past. The beating foodie heart is at the Great Market Hall, an 1897 covered structure with hundreds of stalls offering tempting produce and treats. Downtown's fine-dining scene offers newer takes on traditional food. It's also traditional to soak at the massive Beaux Art Széchenyi Baths, with 15 indoor and three outdoor pools.

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25 Terrific Vacations for Doctors

Exotic, relaxing, or adventuresome vacations can give you a fresh perspective on life, restore your spirit, and help you reconnect with family and friends. Check out these suggestions.Slideshows, June 2019
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