The City of Light draws millions of visitors every year with its unforgettable overall environment. River Seine rambles gently through the city, alongside stately museums, aged churches, and blocks of Rococo- and Neoclassic-design architecture. Cascading trees and glowing street lamps further enhance the cobbled walks and graceful bridges in impossibly chic Paris. Containing world-class museums, fashion, cuisine and an atmosphere all its own, Paris is also a city recalled by so many historical authors and artists. Visit the beloved Musée d’Orsay, shop the biggest designers on the Champs Élysées or hit the boutiques in Le Marais, take in the view atop the Eiffel Tower, or even plan a day trip to Versailles Palace. But don’t miss out on the simple pleasure of meandering the marvelous districts, or snacking on street crepes either.
With extraordinary dramatic peaks and pristine lakes, Yellowstone National Park has multicolored pools swirl around hot springs where verdant forests weave past expansive meadows. Additionally, volatile geysers launch streams of steaming water toward the sky. With such unspoiled natural beauty, it’s easy to believe that John Colter (a scout for explorers Lewis and Clark) and his first descriptions of Yellowstone’s geothermal curiosities in 1807. Among its 3,000-plus square miles of mountains, canyons, geysers, and waterfalls, the trails include residents like buffalo, elk, and grizzly bears.
With over 4 million visitors every year, most of them still spend most of their time at Old Faithful. Yellowstone’s 2.2 million acres range from northwest Wyoming into Idaho and Montana. Several days are needed to see even a decent amount of the park, like Yellowstone Lake and Mammoth Hot Springs. The trails are amazing too, like the hot springs of the West Thumb Geyser Basin and the untamed wildlife dotting the Lewis River Channel and Dogshead Loop. With many trails and wildlife-watching opportunities: more than one trip is always possible.
Rome, the city of seven hills, enjoyed a mythic beginning. Romulus and Remus – twin brothers who were nursed by a she-wolf and fathered by a war god – reportedly founded the Eternal City. And although historians are a little skeptical about this epic entry into the world, most travelers are absolutely certain that there is something magical about Rome. Whether it’s the mystery of nearby Vatican City or the ghosts of the Colosseum, an afternoon caffè on Piazza Navona or a piled-high plate of pasta at a trattoria, Roma is sure to enchant.
Italy’s capital city, Rome is also known for a history that dates back to the eras of Octavian, Julius Caesar, and Hadrian, among others. Left behind are structures like the Pantheon, the Roman Forum and dozens of churches, among other historical gems. Art enthusiasts will relish the trove of art housed at the Vatican Museums, and foodies will enjoy the splendid Italian fare, not to mention the gelato. And though its momentous past is the focus for many vacationers, Rome is also a fast-paced, modern and relevant city, with gleaming designer storefronts, sleek hotels, and cutting-edge restaurants.
With miles of shoreline, dozens of resorts, and cuisine to die for – Tahiti has all the makings of a honeymoon destination. Despite its idyllic reputation and accessibility, Tahiti is more of an off-the-beaten-path stop than a romantic getaway. However, that doesn’t mean Tahiti deserves to be ignored. Leafy forests sit beside sandy shores, French crêpes are served alongside Tahitian raw fish. If there ever was a place that embodies the beautiful duality of the French Polynesian archipelago, it’s Tahiti. Here, the quirky, often chaotic atmosphere of the island’s capital, Papeete, rubs elbows with uncorrupted natural beauty. In fact, Tahiti – the largest of French Polynesia’s 118 islands – is often referred to as two separate islands despite them being joined by a tiny land bridge. Tahiti Nui is the larger, northern section where Papeete can be found. Tahiti Iti (the smaller half) is less accessible, although many visitors make the trek here for a taste of seclusion. Just note that spending a week on either part of Tahiti will cost you quite a chunk of change. But travelers agree that the warm waters, the lush jungles, and the luxurious resorts are worth the splurge.
The English writer Samuel Johnson famously said, “You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” More than two centuries have passed since Johnson’s era, but his words still ring true. Life in London is nothing short of invigorating, and travelers find that one visit isn’t enough to experience everything this two-millennia-old city has to offer. Here, the antiquated clasps hands with the contemporary. You’ll find the historic Tower of London and the avant-garde Tate Modern both considered must-sees. Shakespeare’s sonnets are still being uttered by actors who don modern garb. Londoners most certainly still respect the royals, but they also jam to the likes of Arctic Monkeys and Adele. And while they still praise the power of tea, they now make room for some Starbucks here and there and pressed juice too. A current leader in everything from politics and banking to fashion and music, London’s culture compass is always attuned to what’s next.
“Grand” doesn’t begin to do this canyon justice. Measuring approximately 277 river miles in length, up to 18 miles in width and a mile deep, this massive chasm in northern Arizona is truly a natural wonder. For six million years, the Grand Canyon has expanded with the help of the mighty Colorado River, and for centuries, people from all over the globe have traveled to gaze out over its red and orange grandeur. Managed by the National Park Service and officially designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the Grand Canyon leaves its approximately 6 million visitors per year awestruck. But if you’re seeking a secluded escape to Mother Nature, you should be prepared: The Grand Canyon can be very crowded. The South Rim – home to the Grand Canyon Village and the well-worn Bright Angel Trail – is particularly popular for sightseers and hikers. It is on this side that you’ll find the most amenities. For a break from the crowds, head to the North Rim. This is the place for backwoods camping and hardcore hiking.
Dubai is similar to Las Vegas with a love for the fantastical, with skylines that shine like beacons against barren desert backdrops. People from all over the world flock to these shimmering oases with the same goal: to play hard. But as a vacation spot, Dubai easily beats Vegas with its gorgeous cream-colored Persian Gulf shoreline, international culinary scene, and larger-than-life attractions. The city’s still growing with plans for something bigger and better. It was even estimated that a quarter of the world’s construction cranes could be found here. That could hint at unlimited growth.
Dubai is home to the world’s tallest tower, one of the world’s largest shopping malls, and one of the world’s largest man-made marinas. Traditional wooden boats float past motorboats on Dubai Creek, the natural sands of Jumeirah Beach fringe the carefully sculpted Palm Islands, and the bustling Gold and Spice Souks (marketplaces) thrive amid the larger-than-life Dubai Mall. Despite constantly looking to the future, this city isn’t quick to let go of its past. It’s this dynamic that not only put Dubai on the tourist map but will also keep it there.
New York City
Cool, cosmopolitan, crowded, and constantly evolving, NYC has iconic landmarks and towering skyscrapers, you’ll experience a vibrant culture permeating each of the city’s distinctive neighborhoods and boroughs. Follow trendsetters to the East Village and Brooklyn to check out indie boutiques, iconic bakeries, and trendy coffee shops. Afterward, peruse the racks of the sleek shops lining Fifth Avenue, admire the cutting-edge art collections at the MoMA and the Met, catch a memorable show on Broadway or sit down for a meal at the latest restaurant. The American forefront of food, fashion, and the arts – NYC requires stamina. But don’t let the Big Apple’s frenetic sights and sounds intimidate you from soaking up its grandeur. Constantly growing, wander through the concrete jungle and you’ll discover roaring taxis zipping down bustling blocks, fast-paced pedestrians strolling past on their way to marquee galleries and trendy cocktail bars, as it will never be the same again. Times Square’s neon lights flickering at all hours.
Barcelona contains both the authentically historic and the wildly bizarre. From the scenic trails of the colorful Park Güell to the romantic narrow alleys of Barri Gòtic; from the beachside nightclubs to the city’s dozens of sacred churches and architectural marvels, this city by the sea seems to attract all types: the adventurer, the couple, the partier, the culture lover with an almost overwhelming variety of things to do. You could stay for a few days, but chances are you’ll need a whole week to explore. In Barcelona, even the beach is bustling, but it’s really the cosmopolitan city that gets all the attention. Much of the activity revolves around Las Ramblas, a series of narrow streets and alleys packed with restaurants, nightclubs, and a vibrant pedestrian market. But you should also take a tour of Antoni Gaudí’s masterpieces; Gaudí is responsible for sites like Casa Milà, Casa Batlló, and La Sagrada Familia. You also shouldn’t miss out on the eclectic shopping scene and the region’s exquisite food and wine.
One of California’s most formidable natural landscapes, Yosemite National Park features nearly 1,200 square miles of sheer awe: towering waterfalls, millennia-old Sequoia trees, striking, daunting cliff faces and some of the most unique rock formations in the United States. But despite its enormous size, most of the tourist activity takes place within the 8-square-mile area of Yosemite Valley. Here you’ll find the park’s most famous landmarks – Half Dome and El Capitan – as well as excellent hiking trails through the natural monuments. Even inexperienced hikers can enjoy Yosemite: Guided tours and climbing lessons are available from local adventure outfitters. Just don’t expect to experience it by yourself. Like so many other American tourist destinations, crowds are the biggest obstacles to an enjoyable Yosemite vacation – approximately 4 million people visit each year. But if you go at the right time, Mother Nature’s wonders will reveal themselves to you in a miraculous and serene way.