Glacier, not Yellowstone
It's not that Yellowstone National Park isn't great; it is. But about 400 miles to the northwest, Glacier National Park in Montana promises equally breathtaking views, the chance to see the same species of charismatic megafauna and the highest concentration of glaciers in the Lower 48. To be clear, Glacier is not undiscovered. But by virtue of its remote location, it has about 1.1 million fewer annual visitors than Yellowstone. And if you bring your passport, you can cross the border to Canada's adjacent Waterton National Park — combined, they create the world's first International Peace Park — for an even more remote experience. In addition to being a stunning, expansive refuge defined by bold landscapes and wild inhabitants, Glacier is also a crucible of Western history: It was home to American Indian tribes, fur traders, miners and settlers. Summer visitors can still take Amtrak's Empire Builder line from St. Paul to the park (nps.gov/glac; amtrak.com).
Vacation mind-set at home
A family vacation doesn't have to include fancy flights to far-off places or ritzy resorts to reap meaningful rewards. So clear the calendar and commit to a weekend "away." Part of the holiday mind-set includes saying no to checking work e-mail, sending text messages or posting on Instagram. If not for a week, agree to make family the focus for one whole weekend. Visit a new restaurant, go to a ballgame, take a long bike ride, float the river in an inner tube or play board games at home. Check out the local farmers markets for fresh food or trek to the newest ice cream shop for a special sweet treat. If duty calls, let folks know your family is on vacation.
Abu Dhabi stopover
Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, has extended its stopover deal that includes two free hotel nights in Abu Dhabi. Book a flight to any destination served by the airline and receive accommodations at nearly 25 participating hotels, including the five-star Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, Radisson Blu Yas Island and the Ritz Carlton Grand Canal. For the deal, book your multicity flight, including the stop in Abu Dhabi, then book the hotel. You will need your booking reference number to receive the hotel voucher. Savings vary. For example, in July, Le Meridien Abu Dhabi is valued at $134, and Traders Hotel Qaryat Al Beri Abu Dhabi by Shangri-La is worth $137. Book by Dec. 1 for travel through Dec. 31 at flights. etihad.com/en/freestopover.
Disney goes Marvel
Walt Disney Co. is just now opening its $1 billion Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge project (story, G5). But it's already looking ahead to future attractions, including doing more with its blockbuster Marvel superheroes. Disney plans to create lands based on the characters at its California Adventure Park and the Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris. It's also expanding Marvel's presence at Hong Kong Disneyland, building on an Iron Man experience that opened two years ago. "We love Marvel," said Bob Chapek, who oversees the company's parks. "Around the world, we're doing more and more with Marvel." There are complications, however. Universal Studios controls the theme-park rights to many of the Marvel characters east of the Mississippi and operates a Marvel area at its Islands of Adventure park in Orlando.