Top 5 Places in Mexico to Visit

Mexico has a stellar reputation for their town-like resorts that have everything from A to Z on site. It’s the towns surrounding the resorts.

Mexico has a stellar reputation for their town-like resorts that have everything from A to Z on site. It’s the towns surrounding the resorts that offer us incredible color and the pure culture of Mexico. Mexico is ranked seventh in the world for UNESCO World Heritage Sites, of which there are only 34 in total. So maybe getting off the beaten path isn’t such a bad idea, there is a little something for everyone. If you lean towards the aesthete, oenophile (wine tasting), gourmand, beach bum or history buff, we have a suggested site for each of you, and some of you may enjoy all five. Ready, set, go!

5. Aesthete, Guadalajara
Historic architecture meets the arts and modern design in this colorful city. In the Lafayette district, we suggest staying at either Hotel Demetria or Casa Fayette, because they are both within minutes of galleries, bars, eateries and design shops.
• The Travesi Cuatro, established in 2003, displays a compilation of both Latin American and European works of art. Owners Silvia Ortiz and Ines Lopez-Quesada opened a new location at Casa Franco. It’s in a 1929 building designed by architect, Luis Barragan
• Paramo Galeria exhibits the works of new artists
• Curro y Poncho offers great architecture and diverse art and is home to studios for Gonzalo Lebrija, Joe Davila, and Eduardo Sarabia
• The Instituto Cultural Cabanas displays the work of Eduardo Sarabia and murals by Jose Clemente Orozco
• Ceramica Suro is owned and curated by Jose Nor Suro, and he works to create limited-edition ceramics with artists

4. Oenophile, San Miguel de Allende
Belmond Casa de Sierra Nevada or Rosewood San Miguel de Allende are two excellent hotels to establish a home base for your daily mini trips to restaurants, markets, and charming boutiques.
• The winery tour kicks off at Cuna de Tierra where you’ll ride on a wagon to view the vineyards, followed by a trip to the barrel room to learn how this wine differs from all others worldwide. The Dolores Hidalgo region is home to Mexico’s best Nebbiolo, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.
• Bodega Dos Buhos
• Binicola Toyan
• A horseback ride through 450-year-old chapels, hacienda ruins, villages and awesome views of both the Golden Corridor of San Miguel De Allende and the Guanajuato Sierra

3. Gourmand, Mexico City
Here we go, foodies! This capital city offers everything from taco stands to luxury dining.
• At the Four Seasons Hotel Mexico City, you’ll be steeped in luxury,
• At Condesa DF find contemporary, trendy design
• At Downtown Mexico, treat yourself to a friendly rooftop bar.
• To start eating, head off and call on the street vendors and be sure to try the elotes, corn on the cob, drenched in Mexican crema, spices and cotija cheese.
• Visit the home of Chefs Jorge and Beto and learn some new recipes for tamales and chalupas, but save room for
• Dessert at Temporal. Chef Diego Perez Turner custom makes chocolate and mezcal, the marriage of two Mexican classics

2. Beach Bum, Isla Holbox
Neighbor to Cancun, but a lot tamer, the entire island is only 26 miles long and under two miles wide. Expect to find lots of hammocks and relaxation here and leave the tourists in Cancun.

• If you prefer something a bit rowdier, then Cancun is your answer. Since the roads and sidewalks are made of sand, you can forget about your shoes and enjoy the feel of sand ‘tween your toes.
• The Yum Balam, an ecological reserve is home to flamingos and pelicans and since the waters here are protected, the largest fish in the world, a whale shark might sail by.
• And you can snorkel with all the fish.
• Check into either Las Nubes or Casa Sandra Boutique Hotel for your rest.
• Casa Sandra offers a breakfast of fresh fruit, hibiscus-lemon tea, and banana bread. Grab some ceviche for lunch at Las Panchas and show up at Lobster Pizza for dinner.

1. Historian, Merida
A great place for the history buff, this is a colonial city, on top of the older Mayan city of Tho and the area is filled with rich hacienda owner homes from the past. Both cars and horses will work on these narrow cobblestone streets.
• The Museo Regional Antropologia inside Palacio Canton is the best place to learn all about Merida history and Mayan culture
• Museo de la Cancion Yucateca will be filled with the history of music
• El Gran Museo del Mundo Maya houses relics that date back to Mexico’s beginning
• Palacio de Gobierno displays beautiful murals of the Spanish takeover of the Mayans
• Barrio de Santiago is the location of a 17th-century church, Iglesia de Santiago Apostol
• For a stroll known as the Champs-Elysees of Merida, you can see historical colonial mansions on Paseo de Montejo
• Casa Lecanda is a charming seven-room boutique hotel with gorgeous Spanish tiles and European architecture if you’re looking for a place to stay
• Casa Azul is another option that is nearby Paseo de Montejo

Must-Visit Vineyards in Shenandoah Valley

Everyone knows about California’s wine, but have you heard of Virginia’s?

Everyone knows about California’s wine, but have you heard of Virginia’s? The Shenandoah Valley is ripe—pun intended—with incredible wine, thanks to hilly fields in the Blue Ridge Mountains ideal for growing a wide variety of grapes.

 

Purple WOLF Vineyard
White Oak Lavender Farm in Harrisonburg is already one of the most picturesque places to visit in the Shenandoah Valley, and now it’s even sweeter: they’ve started growing their own grapes and making lavender-infused wine under the name of Purple WOLF Vineyard (get it?). When the fields are blooming, the smell of lavender instantly puts you at ease. The farm offers craft lessons for all ages throughout the year, a petting zoo the kids will love and daily wine tastings. Be sure to try some of their lavender-infused ice cream, too, and take home some buds to add to your own cooking.

Bluestone Vineyard
Enjoy a glass of Bluestone Vineyard’s award-winning wine during free weekly concerts on Fridays in March, or just visit to roam the beautiful grounds. Earlier this year, the 10-year-old vineyard took home a gold award for its 2014 Blue Ice and a double gold award for its 2016 Vidal Blanc, both from the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition. Bluestone has also started offering “Wine and Watercolor” classes.

The Winery at Kindred Pointe
To get to the Winery at Kindred Pointe, outside Mount Jackson, you have to drive some of the area’s most scenic backroads. The winery opened in 2013 after its owners realized wine might be a better sell than boarding horses, which they’d previously done with their property. Now, they brew cider, too, and offer tastings in the cozy and chic converted barn.

Shenandoah Vineyards
Shenandoah Vineyards, Virginia’s second-oldest, has won awards left and right throughout its history. Its founders have been credited with starting the wine revolution in Virginia, which has added hundreds of wineries and vineyards since Shenandoah opened in the ’70s. The vineyard is nestled in the foothills of Edinburg, and it’s within easy biking distance of Cave Ridge Vineyard, the Winery at Kindred Pointe and Wolf Gap Vineyard and Winery. Check out the Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail for a list of two dozen wineries to choose from on your visit.

Cross Key Vineyards
Do not skip brunch at the CrossKeys Vineyards bistro, in Mt. Crawford, where you’ll find DC-quality dining with a much better view (and much better prices). This winery is one of the more elegant spots you’ll find in the region, and you won’t get sick of the view. You might want to plan to stay for brunch and dinner.

Cave Ridge Vineyards
Cave Ridge Vineyard, outside Mount Jackson, is the kind of place where you arrive and immediately relax. The building housing the tasting room is surrounded by trees and a generous patio is perfect for soaking in the view. Take your time driving the backroads around here, and all the other vineyards in the Valley—VA-42 is a much better ride than the Interstate. More than some others, Cave Ridge feels secluded because it’s pushed right up into the mountains.

Muse Vineyards
Muse Vineyards in Woodstock is one of the state’s youngest wineries. Its tasting room just opened in 2016, though it won the Governor’s Cup in 2015 for its 2009 Clio before it even opened its doors. Right on the banks of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River, on land that’s been farmed longer than the United States has been a country, it couldn’t be in a more idyllic spot.

Ways to Explore Holland by Water

The Netherlands should be underwater, but it’s not. See how the Dutch have tamed the sea for more than a thousand years, and explore North and South Holland

The Netherlands should be underwater, but it’s not. See how the Dutch have tamed the sea for more than a thousand years, and explore North and South Holland and beyond by river, swamp and canal for incredible views and adventures you just can’t reach by car. Here are 10 must-dos in “the land of water.”

 

Sail Through Kinderdijk

I was recently invited by the Netherlands Board of Tourism and Conventions to learn about Holland’s rich maritime culture and history, and no place embodies this more than Kinderdijk.

Tour Fairytale Geithoorn

No, this isn’t a theme park or movie set. People actually live here. Nestled against the Weerribben-Wieden National Park, the idyllic village of Geithoorn sits on peat islands connected by more than 170 small wooden bridges.

Take the Tulip Cruise

If tulips are on your bucket list, hop aboard the MS Magnifique for a “flower-full holiday.”

Kayak Weerribben-Wieden National Park

Nature lovers, especially birders, should make Weerribben-Wieden National Park a top priority.

Shop Amsterdam’s Floating Market

Hop aboard Bloemenmarkt, the world’s only floating flower market, for a unique Dutch souvenir.

Rent a Houseboat

To experience life like a true local, rent an authentic Dutch houseboat along one of Amsterdam’s many canals.

Take a Canal Tour

It may be touristy, but a canal cruise in Amsterdam is a great way for first-timers to get their bearings.

But Take Another Tour at Night

While a canal cruise by day allows you to pack in all the Amsterdam sights, if you can, make time for a cruise after dark for a completely different perspective.

Go Boating at Biesbosch National Park

Vacation like a local at De Biesbosch National Park. The freshwater delta has a web of tiny rivers and streams to explore via boat or canoe.

Race Around Rotterdam

While the South Holland hub is incredibly walkable, you get the best views from out at sea.

Best Gulf Coast Beaches

Beach lovers and families set up camp with myriad towels, chairs and umbrellas, whiling away hours basking in the sun, quietly reading a novel or splashing in the surf.

The scores of Gulf Coast beaches beckon travelers with promises of emerald waters, brilliant white beaches, picturesque sand dunes with waving sea oats, excellent nature hikes and ample bird-watching. Read on to discover our picks for the best Gulf Coast beaches.

 

Destin
With brilliant blue waves lapping gently upon sands as soft and white as sugar, it makes good sense that the stretch of Florida shore where Destin lies would be coined, “The Emerald Coast.” Truly, this tranquil, charming beach town in Florida’s Panhandle is a gem. Twelve beach access points can be found along Destin’s coastline; while all are truly lovely, the 1 1/2-mile Henderson Beach State Park is a waterfront Eden.

Beach lovers and families set up camp with myriad towels, chairs and umbrellas, whiling away hours basking in the sun, quietly reading a novel or splashing in the surf. When lying by the beach grows tiresome, charter one of Destin’s ubiquitous fishing boats for a day spent trawling the Gulf for a catch.

Fishing has grown so popular in Destin that it now claims to be home to Florida’s largest fishing fleet, and has boldly dubbed itself “The World’s Luckiest Fishing Village.” The area is also a popular golf destination; head to nearby Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort and find 72 holes spread over 3 painstakingly manicured courses.

Galveston Island State Park
he port town of Galveston, located on a barrier island off the Texas coast, has earned its marks as a popular vacation destination, particularly for residents of nearby Houston. Still, the appeal of its swaths of beaches and its downtown historic district lure travelers from across the country to Galveston’s shores. As a whole, Galveston Island feels like a major resort destination; 32 miles of beaches, numerous resorts, restaurants, shops and galleries can be explored, particularly in the quaint Victorian downtown.

For respite from the masses, head to the quiet oasis of Galveston Island State Park’s 2,000 acres, a mostly undeveloped stretch of land and shore. Here, you’ll be able to take dips in the water (be careful, there are no lifeguards in attendance), or enjoy a number of outdoor activities like bird-watching, biking, fishing and picnicking. Camping is one of the park’s most popular activities, and 66 campsites exist in the park, including 36 sites facing the beach.

St. George Island
Tucked into the crook of Florida’s Panhandle, St. George Island tops many locals’ list of Florida’s best beaches. A 22-mile-long barrier island located just off the coast, St. George’s is technically part of the long stretch of beaches known as Gulf Islands National Seashore. The island appears to be a mecca for wildlife. In fact, the island’s far eastern end is home to St. George Island State Park, 9 miles of completely undeveloped coastline, where you’ll likely see scores of birds, like black skimmers, nesting amid the island’s rolling sand dunes.

Come early summer, the beach proves attractive to another visitor: loggerhead sea turtles that come ashore to dig nests and lay eggs. At nightfall, the baby sea turtles can be seen making their way toward the water. A number of trails, boardwalks and viewing platforms wind through the park, and make for excellent, easy hiking and wildlife viewing. St. George’s is also an excellent destination for fishing and many charter companies offer daily trips into the surrounding Gulf waters, rich with flounder, trout and redfish.

Gulf Shores and Orange Beach
Not everyone considers Alabama a likely Gulf Coast beach destination, preferring instead the Florida Panhandle beaches. Oh, but they should reconsider. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, AL, lie in proximity to the splendid shores of Florida’s “Emerald Coast,” and offers beachgoers 32 miles of spectacular, sugar-white beaches, as well as nearby outdoor activities and family attractions. But first, the beaches.

Hit the sands at Gulf State Park, set amid the dunes and wild sea oats. This family-friendly beach features a newly built outdoor pavilion with air-conditioned restrooms, showers, tables and benches for eating, a snackbar and even a fireplace, perfect for warming your toes on chilly afternoons or evenings.

For a bit more action, hit the sands at Gulf Shores Public Beach, a favorite local hangout, where volleyball games and sipping cold beers with pals can occupy your laidback time. For outdoor activities, make a trip to nearby Dauphin Island, where you’ll find the Audubon Bird Sanctuary and fishing pier. Should the kids get restless, head to Adventure Island amusement park or the waterpark at Waterville, USA.

West Ship Island
Back in the days before multiple hurricanes had battered the Gulf Coast, there was but one Ship Island. Then in 1969, rising water and erosion from Hurricane Camille split the barrier island into East and West Ship Islands, though local officials have presented plans for reconnecting the two in the coming years.

Today, visitors can take the Ship Island Excursions ferry from Gulfport, MS, on a 12-mile journey to West Ship Island, where they’ll spend the day lounging on the shores, or exploring Fort Massachusetts, built in the mid-19th century to protect the coast from attacks by foreign navies. Besides swimming in the calm waters or lounging on the beach, the island is an ideal destination for quieter beach pursuits, such as shelling, birding, fishing and nature photography.

West Ship Island is part of Gulf Shores National Seashore, and remains open to visitors from sunrise to sunset; no camping or overnight stays are allowed, and visitors must traverse the island by foot.

Top 10 European Locations on a Budget

Moving around: Rail Europe offers several passes, and if you want to run faster, try a no-frill airline. If you want to drive, consider Auto Europe or lease a little Renault.

Want to hit up some European sites, but worry about the Euros you might spend? Here are some budget-friendly tips along with the top ten cities to see on your trip.

Moving around: Rail Europe offers several passes, and if you want to run faster, try a no-frill airline. If you want to drive, consider Auto Europe or lease a little Renault.

Sleeping and eating: Farms, private rooms, convents, castles and villa rentals offer more cost-effective lodging options. When you get hungry look to the street vendors, trattorias or bars, which will have great food less costly than a restaurant. Consider a big lunch and just snack for dinner.

Sightseeing and shopping: beautiful churches with frescoes, architecture and stained glass compliments of Matisse and Michelangelo are free! Museums are another good suggestion.

Europe on a budget is going to enhance your ability to immerse yourself in the local cultures as well as the local people.

10. Bavaria

Grab a room at the local 14th-century castle, Burg Colmberg, which lies above a small village. It will show you an eclectic collection of rooms tucked throughout jagged hallways, hidden staircases, and cozy sitting nooks. Be sure to visit the postcard-perfect ghostly Mad King Ludwig, II castle of Neuschwanstein, which sits on a mountain top.

9. Apulia

The architecture of Apulia in the heel of the iconic Italian boot, is the prehistoric Trullo, a round whitewashed house with a cone-shaped roof of stacked gray stones. The town of Alberobello has whole neighborhoods made of the quaint homes, and a bright, local entrepreneur has fixed up dozens of the abandoned ones to rent them to visitors. A cooler option during toasty summers and an attractive option, complete with cozy fireplaces for winter, a rental lets you live like a local for less than the cost of a tourist-class hotel in town. Apulia’s forested Gargano Peninsula is great if you love the sunshine and it’s off the tourist map grid.

8. Andalusia

Get away from the heat on the crowded beaches of Costa del Sol and take a driving tour along the Route of the Pueblos Blancos. It’s a chain of cliff-top, whitewashed villages stretching from Arcos de la Frontera through the Sierra de Grazalema to Ronda, a puzzle of medieval streets sitting above a 500-foot gorge. Skip the hefty dinner bill and join the locals in a tapeo, a pub crawl of tapas bars and taste a bunch of bite-size snacks at each location.

7. Berlin

Complete with Cold War mystery, modern architecture, and growing gallery and restaurant locations, Berlin is where east-meets-west and the city has become the cultural capital of central Europe. A draw to creative types and “in-the-know” travelers. Berlin is convenient to major sites including the Reichstag and Potsdamer Platz.

6. London

Many of London’s greatest museums including the British Museum, Victoria & Albert, the National Gallery, the Tate Modern, don’t charge admission. And there are free lunch concerts at St-Martin-in-the-Fields church and art plus ancient sculpture in the Victorian private house-museum of Sir John Soane. The Oyster Card, a public transportation debit card is recommended because it reduces the London bus rides in half.

5. Cotswolds

The villages and rolling farmland hills of the Cotswolds are just two hours from central London by car or train from Paddington Station. The area boasts of designer boutiques, quaint cottages, and exceptional restaurants, which attract lovers of easy-to-reach rural countrysides.

4. Istanbul

The big state-run museums may charge admissions, but the Great Palace Mosaic Museum, just behind the Blue Mosque adjacent to the Arasta Bazaar, is very inexpensive and most charming. View the individual puzzled pictures of hunts, myths, animal battles, and everyday life in the old world. The pictures once populated the floor of the courtyard of the Palatium Magnum, which was constructed between the time of Constantine the Great and Justinian I.

3. Ljubljana

Tour the modern architecture of prodigy, Jože PleCnik, who took the Secessionists Art Nouveau style, learned in Vienna back home through Prague to remake his native city his own creation. Like Gaudí in Barcelona, PleCnik designed his buildings down to the smallest details including Pegasus door handles included on the entryway to the National and University Library. You will also be able to view the magnificent staircase inside. Evidence of PleCnik touches are all over the city, in his central market, the two flanking spans of Ljubljana’s Triple Bridge, and the café-lined embankments of the Ljubljanica River. The prodigy planted alternating rounded willows and pointed poplars to mimic the domes and spires of Prague.

2. The Dalmatian Coast

Pass, on the ever-popular island of Hvar and find the walled medieval village on the Adriatic island of Korcula, believed home of Marco Polo. Korcula is a day-trip destination, and by sundown the tourists have faded, leaving those who remain to relax in the cafés and sachet along the narrow alleys. History filled, Split has the only downtown carved from the remains of an ancient Roman palace. When Emperor Diocletian divided the Roman Empire in 305 A.D., he constructed a luxurious palace on the Croatian coast to live his final days as head of the empire’s eastern half. In the near 2,000 years since then, the ruins of his last resting place have been inhabited by the locals, who have turned the buildings into “medieval type” townhouses, and the emperor’s tomb has been transformed into a beautiful cathedral.

1. Côte d’Azur

The French Riviera is a famous posh resort. It offers clear water and stretches of white sandy beaches, rocky cliffs, and hidden coves. Start in the busy city of Nice, gateway to the Riviera, and drive to Cannes, on the waterfront and the once-sleepy village of St. Tropez. On your trip, don’t forget to make a pit stop for socca or chickpea pancakes, very popular in the area.

Top 6 Underground Destinations in the United States, Mexico, and Australia

This is such a cool list of incredible, mysterious sights to see in the United States that are all underground, a top secret, government hideaway in West Virginia that was intended for use during the Cold War but was never needed all the way to an underground home in California.

This is such a cool list of incredible, mysterious sights to see in the United States that are all underground — a top secret, government hideaway in West Virginia that was intended for use during the Cold War but was never needed all the way to an underground home in California. This is going to be fun!

6. Cave of the Crystals, Mexico
Intersecting columns of gypsum in this location recently discovered in 2000 very near Chihuahua, when water was removed from an underground chamber is named for the world’s biggest natural crystals, La Cueva de los Cristales. Unfortunately, there is chatter around refilling this with water because of its temperature conditions. Near 100 percent humidity and 136-degree temperature as a result of a pool of magma (molten rock) under the cave.

5. Greenbrier Bunker, White Sulphur Springs, WV
If you live or travel in the Greenbrier resort area of West Virginia, you must stop and see the secret, hiding there since 1956. It has now been declassified, but in its day, it could have housed over 1,000 people behind its 25-ton blast doors. It was never used, but it was equipped with decontamination chambers, meeting rooms, power plant, and communications equipment. There is even a great hall for joint sessions plus meeting rooms. How big is it? Put two football fields together.

4. Forestiere Underground Gardens, Fresno, CA
You will be amazed at this location built by Baldassare Forestiere, a Sicilian immigrant. Attempting to re-create the catacombs from his home. He spent 40 years with a builder and gardener who dug out 10,000 square feet of space for a chapel, rooms and a freaking fishing pond! And, all they used to dig were farming implements. It’s a cool pitstop from the heat of the sun, and you can see the blooming fruit trees as they climb to the skylights for life.

3. Coober Pedy, Australia
An underground hotel, restaurants, and art galleries wait for about 4,000 Aussies in the event of an Apocalypse. Originally a World War I mine cave for opals and used by weary soldiers looking for a safe place to rest. You can stay in a hotel, enjoy art galleries, go to church, and dine all underground. You can play grassless golf too and view the same desert landscapes seen in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.

2. Nevada National Security Site, Las Vegas
Just a short trip from Vegas, find ghost towns, and nuclear bomb tests leftovers. But if you’re wondering why this is on our list, under the ground, you’ll see craters that have been sealed via the atomic testing hellfire’s left from the hundreds of tests performed during the Cold War. These tests turned sand and rock to liquid, and they now appear like bubbles made from glass. These phenomena are not visible until there is a cave-in. The National Atomic Testing Museum is the meeting spot to kick off public tours, which only happen once each month.

1.   The Cavern Suite, Grand Canyon Caverns, Arizona
If you’re looking for peace, quiet, and dark as night, you will be the only life in this creepy cave. So, bring up to five of your friends to rest up 220 feet below ground with zero humidity. Don’t worry, fresh air comes in via the Grand Canyon, over 60 limestone filled miles away, it is the deepest motel room in the US.

Top Trips for Solo Travelers

When it comes to travel, few experiences offer the inspiration for self-growth and discovery as does the act of hitting the road solo.

When it comes to travel, few experiences offer the inspiration for self-growth and discovery as does the act of hitting the road solo.
To be sure, the prospect of arriving in a foreign country all by one’s lonesome is intimidating. But traveling on your own automatically opens you up to new people, places and experiences in a way that is not possible when you’re buffered by the safety net of a travel companion. Any experienced solo traveler will likely tell you the same thing — you may start your trip on your own, but you’ll rarely feel lonely along the way.
In countries in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, local women are quick to approach single female travelers with offers of hospitality (a home-cooked meal or an invitation into the home, perhaps), which simply wouldn’t be the case if you were traveling with others. The result of such experiences is a far richer travel experience, with the added bonus of boosting your self-confidence and pushing personal boundaries along the way.
In general, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Canada are very popular destinations for women traveling solo. In cities such as Amsterdam and Dublin, you won’t have to deal with the language barrier while making your way around (Dutch people speak English like it’s their first language). And Australia and New Zealand are countries that are made for backpacking and solo travels, with affordable bus and train coverage, extensive hostel networks and outgoing populations of travel-minded people.
Just because different cultural norms and expectations for female behavior apply in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, don’t rule out a solo trip to a country that may be considered more of a man’s domain.
Follow Travel Channel’s lead to a few unexpected destinations for women looking to head out in the world on their own.

India
One of the most colorful and calamitous countries on the planet, India is not for the fainthearted. And it’s a common mantra along the backpacker circuit that once you’ve traveled on the subcontinent, you can make your way with ease anywhere else in the world. In fact, India, with its cultural riches and deeply spiritual framework, is one of the most rewarding destinations for solo travelers. There’s even a growing trend of Indian women traveling alone in their own country, thanks to increasing economic independence. And if you hunger for companionship with like-minded Western women, consider settling in for a while at retreats in spiritual centers such as Dharamsala and Rishikesh.

Morocco

In many parts of Marrakech, the vibe is almost European, and fellow travelers abound. The Moroccan king’s progressive crackdown on hassling in the markets here and in cities such as Fes, Tangier and Casablanca also means you’ll encounter far fewer safety concerns than would have been the case just a few years ago. The seaside city of Essaouira, a three-hour bus ride from Marrakech, is one of Morocco’s most laid-back and beautiful destinations.

If you’re still hesitant, consider pairing solo travels with a few days as part of a group tour with other intrepid women. Walking-tour outfit Country Walkers offers a women’s adventure tour that takes in Kasbahs, Saharan sand dunes, the High Atlas mountains and indigenous Berber villages. Plan your activities for daylight hours, as most Moroccan women retreat to their homes in the evening, with Western-style nightlife and promenading really only playing out in cities like Marrakech and Casablanca. Remember to respect local culture by keeping your arms and legs covered with pants, long skirts and long sleeves as most Moroccan women do (a head scarf, however, is not necessary anywhere in the country).

Iceland
For most women thinking about traveling solo in Europe, the plans usually involve a Eurail pass and a packed itinerary that keeps them moving from well-touristed countries such as Spain and Portugal to France and Italy. For something unusual, set your sights on one of Europe’s lesser-visited locales and slow down your itinerary to dig deep into Iceland’s allure. Make no mistake — you’re going to spend some serious kronas here, as Iceland is one of Europe’s most expensive countries. But when it comes to natural attractions, such as magical glacier-wrought scenery and healing hot pools, balanced with cool urban fabulousness in cosmopolitan Reykjavik, Iceland’s diversity is a Euro chart topper. For serious pampering, book into the Blue Lagoon, where healing waters pool in lava rocks in surreal Icelandic surrounds.

Vietnam

After touristy Thailand, Vietnam gets kudos as the most female-friendly travel destination in Southeast Asia. So friendly and curious are the Vietnamese people, it’s even relatively common to see single Western female mothers traveling alone with young children. The language barrier is rarely a problem in big cities and larger towns. With more and more Vietnamese learning English from a young age, you’re likely to elicit countless invitations for a drink so that an eager student can practice English with you. The biggest challenge traveling alone in Vietnam is reconciling the abject poverty in some of the most beautiful mountain villages, such as Sa Pa, home to indigenous hill tribes. If you’re inspired to lend a helping hand during your vacation, consider signing up for volunteer work at an orphanage with the Global Volunteer Network.

New Seven Wonders of the World

In 2007, more than 100 million people voted to declare the New Seven Wonders of the World.

In 2007, more than 100 million people voted to declare the New Seven Wonders of the World. The following list of seven winners is presented without ranking, and aims to represent global heritage.

 

 

 
Great Wall of China (China)

Built between the 5th century B.C. and the 16th century, the Great Wall of China is a stone-and-earth fortification created to protect the borders of the Chinese Empire from invading Mongols.

The Redeemer Statue (Rio de Janeiro)

The Art Deco-style Christ the Redeemer statue has been looming over the Brazilians from upon Corcovado mountain in an awe-inspiring state of eternal blessing since 1931.

Machu Picchu (Peru)
 
Machu Picchu, an Incan city of sparkling granite precariously perched between 2 towering Andean peaks, is thought by scholars to have been a sacred archaeological center for the nearby Incan capital of Cusco.

Chichen Itza (Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico)

The genius and adaptability of Mayan culture can be seen in the splendid ruins of Chichen Itza.

The Roman Colosseum (Rome) 

Rome’s, if not Italy’s, most enduring icon is undoubtedly its Colosseum. Built between A.D. 70 and 80 A.D., it was in use for some 500 years.

Taj Mahal (Agra, India)

A mausoleum commissioned for the wife of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the Taj Mahalwas built between 1632 and 1648.

Petra (Jordan)

Declared a World Heritage Site in 1985, Petra was the capital of the Nabataean empire of King Aretas IV, and likely existed in its prime from 9 B.C. to A.D. 40.

10 of the World’s Most Stunning National Parks

Some of the world’s most beautiful places are in national parks you’ve probably never heard of. Here are 10 of the most stunning from around the globe.

Some of the world’s most beautiful places are in national parks you’ve probably never heard of. Here are 10 of the most stunning from around the globe.

Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, Iceland
Hornstrandir Nature Reserve is one of Iceland’s best-kept secrets. Ring Road travelers typically don’t venture up to the country’s Westfjords, so you’ll find far more solitude here than you would at any of the more-frequented Golden Circle spots. Keep an eye out for arctic foxes, which dart along the trail in front of you, and bring a rain jacket, as there’s a reason it’s so green here.

Patagonia National Park, Chile
Parque Nacional Patagonia in Chile is one of the world’s newest national parks. Previously, it was private land held by Tompkins Conservation, an organization started by the late Doug Tompkins, founder of The North Face, and his wife, Kristine McDivitt Tompkins, former CEO of the apparel company Patagonia. In late January, the organization signed a declaration with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to sign over 1 million acres of private land and 9 million acres of public land to create five new national parks and expand three others.

Triglav National Park, Slovenia
Triglav National Park, in Slovenia’s Julian Alps, was designated in 1924 and is one of Europe’s oldest and largest national parks. It’s also Slovenia’s only one. It’s named for Mt. Triglav, which at 9,300 feet tall is the highest mountain in Slovenia. Be sure to visit the nearby Lake Bled, too, iconic for the Gothic church that covers the lake’s small island.

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada
You’ve no doubt heard of Banff, perhaps Canada’s most famous national park. Waterton Lakes National Park, to the south, was established just a few years later, in 1895, making it one of the world’s oldest. It’s next-door neighbors with Glacier National Park in Montana, and together, the two parks formed Waterton Glacier International Peace Park in 1932, the first such park in the world. The park suffered damage from a wildfire in late 2017 but is now starting to reopen to the public. Keep an eye out for wildlife; you might spot black bears, bison, bighorn sheep, elk and deer here.

Goreme National Park and Rock Sites of Cappadocia, Turkey
Incredible rock formations dot the Goreme National Park and Rock Sites of Cappadocia in Turkey, a UNESCO World Heritage site for its cave dwellings, underground cities, and more than 200 stone churches. Here, you’ll find evidence of inhabitants dating back to at least the fourth century. Take it in from the sky by hopping in a colorful hot air balloon at sunrise.

Chubu Sangaku National Park, Japan
At Chubu Sangaku National Park, in central Japan, you’ll find vivid autumn colors and hot springs in the shadow of the Northern Japan Alps, the country’s tallest mountain range. You can’t drive into the park on your own, but you can take public transportation right to Kamikochi, the park’s hiking resort, and ogle the mountains the whole way. Even better, you can gawk at the scenery from the hot springs at Okuhida.

Snowdonia National Park, Wales
The jagged cliffs of Snowdonia are exceptionally green and so are the forests, with enchanting tree canopies and moss-covered rocks that give you the feeling you might see Robin Hood pop around the corner at any minute. For epic views of the surrounding mountains, hike Cwm Idwal. For a real challenge, hike among the clouds by climbing Snowdon, the tallest mountain in Wales and England at nearly 12,000 feet.

Taroko National Park, Taiwan
Taroko National Park is named for the 12-mile Taroko Gorge, which is 1,000 feet tall and barely 30 to 40 feet wide at some of its narrowest sections. If heights thrill you, hike the Zhuilu Old Trail, which winds around a cliff hundreds of feet above the valley floor, with no guardrail. Plan ahead, as you need a permit to tackle this trail. Throughout the park, keep your eyes peeled for Formosan Macaques, small monkeys native to Taiwan.

National Park of American Samoa, American Samoa
Yes, this island paradise is part of our own National Park Service. And you can have it nearly to yourself: Only about 5,000 people visit each year. If you go, consider planning a homestay through the Park Service, which connects visitors with Samoan families who will welcome you into their homes and teach you about their history and culture.

Top 10 Most Colorful Cities in the World

Some of them have become bright thanks to Hollywood movies, others have experienced the efforts of city-wide artists and a few just share a cultural love of color.

You don’t have to pack a box of Crayola’s; these fabulous cities are already colorful, you just need to come and visit each one and admire the Crayola hues already covering the streets. Some of them have become bright thanks to Hollywood movies, others have experienced the efforts of city-wide artists and a few just share a cultural love of color.

10. Burano, Italy
You can spot this pretty city on the Venetian Island from the sea. Brushed with jewel tones, homes are thought to have been painted by local fisherman so they could see them through the fog. Today, the practice has become law, and you must seek government permission to paint your home. They will assign you a color. In any case, you can’t help but be happy when you walk the streets here.

9. Bo-Kaap, Cape Town, South Africa
In this traditionally Muslim quarter, the buildings are blue, yellow, fuchsia, and green. It’s also one of the oldest hoods in the city, which was once known as the Malay Quarter. That name came from the slaves who were taken from the Malaysian Archipelago. Although the area dates to the 16th century, they have only recently begun to transform their home colors as an expression of freedom and in celebration of Eid and Ramadan.

8. Willemstad, Curaçao
According to the locals, in the 1800s then governor of the Dutch colony determined that too much white was the cause of his migraines. As a result, he issued the decree that buildings could no longer be white. Today’s dazzling colors make a fabulous backdrop for your vacation pictures, and it has a UNESCO World Heritage designation.

7. Jodhpur, India
In this Blue City, upper-class residents began painting their homes blue as a signal that they were different from the lower class, a not too subtle reminder of the caste system. Today, the color is popular not only because of tradition, but also, royal blue helps to cool homes from the fiery sun and frankly, the color is fabulous. And last, but not least, the chemical structure of the blue paint is a defense against termites.

6. La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina
While this area is full of color, there is a logical reason. The homes were crafted from scraps of wood from the local shipyard and painted with any leftover paint that could be found. It’s a typical working-class neighborhood and has become a draw for worldwide travelers.

5. Jaipur, India
Jaipur is one of the several color-coded cities, but this rose-colored beauty is painted in pink and has been since the 19th century when the area was under British leadership. Pink is the hue Brits associate with hospitality and the residents painted pink in the preparation of the visit of Edward, the then Prince of Wales. Today, pink is law.

4. Trinidad, Cuba
The best description of this location is that the building colors mirror the environment with sugarcane green, sunshine yellow, and ocean blue. It’s another UNESCO World Heritage site, and you can also expect to see all those lovely colors on the same building. The area was built by funds received from the slave trade, and the resulting Afro-Cuban culture is represented in the colorful streets. Be sure to visit the Palacio Cantero, the San Francisco Convent, and the Palacio Brunet.

3. Balat, Istanbul, Turkey
Balat has been a Jewish quarter since the Byzantine era and is filled with red, blue and green buildings. Many tourists visit the area during the Istanbul Design Biennial, and other tourists are mostly design savvy guests who want to see the beauty. The streets are in the shape of a puzzle, and you can find galleries, cafes, and boutiques as you wander through town.

2. Pelourinho, Salvador, Brazil
The Portuguese word for pillory, Pelourinho was home to the first slave market on the continent. Although slavery was outlawed in 1835, it wasn’t until 1985 that UNESCO World Heritage claimed it as one of their sites. Since that time, Pelourinho’s culture is as vibrant as its buildings, and tourists from all over the world visit for dance, food, history and the Museu Afro-Brasileiro.

1. Rainbow Row, Charleston, South Carolina
It looks like Easter year-round when you view these row houses near Charleston’s waterfront. The homes are part of the historic area and have survived the Civil War and reconstruction. It’s said that the color existed to help drunken sailors recognize home and others say, it’s a marketing scheme for local shops. Located on East Bay Street, these are must see Georgian houses that date back to the 1700s.