|Subject: Re: Where would you go...|
Don't be so quick to drop South America. Lisa was correct in pointing out that it will be winter there when you plan to travel. Of course, as she mentioned any area in close proximity to the equator will be free of winter's chill; Peru, Ecuador, and Brazil falling into that category. Patagonia in both Chile and Argentina would be suitable only for the most extreme winter-loving of travelers. The ski areas of the Andes would be in full operation, too. But the northern portions of both Chile (Antofogasta and the Atacama) and Argentina (Iguazu Falls) would have mild temperatures. Buenos Aires, although likely to have chilly temperatures (historical high average temperature for July is 58ºF while low is 47ºF) finds July as its month of least precipitation.
Argentina would be extremely inexpensive, would be empty of tourists at that time of year, and in addition to the cosmopolitan buzz of Buenos Aires could also offer you the magnificent beauty of the tropics at Iguasu Falls, as well as, the alpine splendor of Bariloche in the Andes. And jet lag is virtually non-existent as there is no dramatic change in time zones from your west coast U.S. location (4-5 hours).
I'm sure whatever you choose you'll have a great trip.
John in San Diego