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Arts & Culture Cities Entertainment Experiential Travel Oddities

10 Foreign Fast Food Chains We Want in the U.S.

How can America, home of the KFC Double Down, Dunkin’ Donuts Glazed Donut Breakfast Sandwich, and Carl’s Jr. Pop-Tart Ice Cream Sandwich, not have these amazing foreign fast-food chains within its borders? Here are 10 delicious and forbidden fast-food chains that we wish would move stateside—ASAP.

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Arts & Culture At Home Food & Drink Staycation

Got Yeast? Then Take a Trip Around the World Through Bread

Based on the pictures of store shelves emptied of yeast and flour, it seems staying home means more people than ever are learning how to bake bread. Why not take that new found skill on a world tour with these recipes?

Bagels

Let’s start our journey in NYC. Every time I visit New York City, bagels are a must (at least once, but usually most mornings). My favorite bagel shop in Manhattan is Bagel & Schmear in Midtown. It’s just a short walk to Madison Square Park, where I like have a bagel picnic and gaze at my favorite building in the city, the Flatiron. Outside of New York, it’s pretty hard, if not impossible, to find a truly great bagel. Fortunately, it’s easy to make great bagels at home. I like this King Arthur Flour recipe. I took a bagel making class at the King Arthur Flour headquarters and learned one key trick: Let your shaped bagels rest in the fridge overnight, on a sheet pan and under plastic wrap. The extra fermentation in the fridge creates an extra-chewy crust and gives the bagels more flavor.

Pão de Queijo

I’ve never been to Brazil, but I sure do love Brazilian cheese bread, Pão de Queijo. This recipe requires no yeast and is gluten-free thanks to a surprising ingredient, tapioca flour, which takes the place of wheat flour. Cheese is the star of the show, however, and the end result is a crispy, gooey cross between a dinner roll and mozzarella stick. These don’t require yeast. The process to make Pão de Queijo is similar to pâte à choux (cream puff dough.) These are best eaten a little warm and in large quantities (you won’t be able to stop yourself!) Check out this YouTube video to better understand the methodology behind this recipe. Since I will always stan for King Arthur Flour, here’s their recipe.

Stollen

Stollen is technically a Christmastime recipe, but, at the moment, time seems more like an abstract idea than a practical matter so go ahead and treat yourself to a virtual trip to Germany through this sweet yeast bread. It’s studded with lots of dried fruit and a tunnel of marzipan. I’m a marzipan freak, and add more marzipan than recipes usually call for; but I hate raisins so I never use them (insert your favorite dried fruit instead). Your kids will love the heavy dusting of powdered sugar that coats this loaf like a blanket of fresh snow. Here’s a tried and true recipe from the folks at Serious Eats.

Focaccia

The moment I saw Samin Nosrat making this focaccia on her drool-inducing Netflix series SALT FAT ACID HEAT, I knew I needed to whip up a batch of this bread from the Ligurian region in Northern Italy. I was right; this is a must-make recipe. This focaccia recipe is pillowy, crispy in the right spots, made with good extra virgin olive oil, and, surprisingly, with a salty brine that balances salt and fat so perfectly. This recipe is easy, but will need a solid 12 to 14 hours of (hands-off) time for the first rise, which is perfect for staying home in quarantine. Pro-tip: This freezes up extremely well. Cut into rectangular portion sizes, stash it in your freezer, and you’ll have an awesome treat available (as long as it lasts, but, I say, keep baking and don’t let your stock run out).

Japanese Milk Bread

Japan was in my (now-canceled) travel plans for 2020, and as such I spent hours and hours watching YouTube videos about where and what to eat on my trip. Through my discovery process, I learned about Hokkaido Milk bread, a super-soft loaf of white bread and often used for making tonkatsu sandos (fried pork cutlet sandwiches). The bread gets its signature soft texture from incorporating a tangzhong into the dough. The flour-and-milk paste creates a supple, tender loaf that’s not at all similar to the old standbys on American grocery store shelves. I was supposed to leave for Japan on June 18; instead, I’ll bake up a loaf of milk bread and attempt my own rendition of a tonkatsu sando and at least I’ll save the 14-hour flight! King Arthur Flour has a wonderful recipe here.

Icelandic Rúgbrauð

Last summer, I spent 10 days road tripping through Iceland in a camper van. I can’t tell you how many times over the past month I’ve dreamt of running away to live out this pandemic in a van beside a waterfall. But that’s a fantasy best kept to my day dreams (Iceland doesn’t want me right now!). However, I am planning on finding time in my busy baking schedule to take on Rúgbrauð which is an Icelandic rye bread that’s traditionally baked in the ground through geothermal energy. Don’t have a lava field warming up your back yard? You can also get the same effect by a long bake in a relatively low oven. This is a great recipe to try if you can’t get your hands on yeast, as it’s a quick bread that uses baking soda as leavening (though you will need to get your hands on some rye flour). During my travels in Iceland, I couldn’t get enough of this dark, slightly sweet bread slathered with good Icelandic butter, so I’ll simply recreate a tiny bit of my fantasy at home and pretend I’m back in time in my cozy van fueling up for my next adventure. The Splendid Table has an authentic recipe here.

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Arts & Culture

Amazon Is Offering Nine Free Kindle Downloads for World Book Day

Amazon is helping us celebrate World Book Day (Thursday, April 23) in quarantine with nine free Kindle downloads. Take a look at the free books you can download … we’re especially excited because many of the downloads are travel related.

Your Perfect Year, Charlotte Lucas

This romantic comedy’s plot involves a lost planner and second chances. It was an instant bestseller when it came out in Germany last year.

The First Mrs. Rothschild, Sara Aharoni

This biographical fiction saga takes place in a German-Jewish ghetto and is about a couple who rise to financial power.

The Price of Paradise, Susana Lopez Rubio

This historical fiction novel is set in 1950s Cuba and revolves around a forbidden love affair.

Along the Tapajos, Fernando Vilela

Follow a pair of siblings as they take on a mission along the Tapajos River in Brazil. This is one of the first children’s books published by the Amazon Crossing Kids program.

Out of the Silence: After the Crash, Eduardo Strauch

You won’t want to put this well-told memoir down; it’s about the story of the 1972 plane crash in the Andes Mountains that was carrying the Uruguayan rugby team, as told by one of the survivors.

Check out the other four free books on Amazon’s World Book Day page. Note that the downloads are only free until the end of the day on Thursday, April 23.

Amazon is also offering two free (normally $9.99 per month) months of Kindle Unlimited, which hosts over a million e-books, magazines, and audiobooks. To use Kindle Unlimited, you don’t need an e-reader, just the Kindle app. To take advantage of the two free months, use this link to sign up before the offer expires at 11:59 p.m. PST on April 30. Note that you’ll need to cancel your free trial before the two months are over if you don’t want to be automatically charged $9.99 starting in the third month.

Interested in learning more about Amazon Prime? Click here to sign up for a free 30-day trial to score the free reads and all the Prime Day deals.

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Arts & Culture At Home Entertainment Travel Technology

Get Two Months of Free Books with Kindle Unlimited

Running out of things to read? Amazon is currently offering a free two-month trial of Kindle Unlimited.

Kindle Unlimited normally costs $9.99 per month and gives you unlimited access to over a million e-books, magazines, and audiobooks.

You don’t have to have a Kindle to use Kindle Unlimited, as the service works with any device that can download the Kindle app.

All genres are available on Kindle Unlimited, including mysteries, thrillers, nonfiction, and romance. Click here to browse the titles that are free on Kindle Unlimited.

Use this link to sign up for two months of Kindle Unlimited before the offer expires at 11:59 p.m. PST on April 30. Note that you’ll need to cancel your free trial before the two months are over if you don’t want to be automatically charged $9.99 starting in the third month.

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Arts & Culture At Home Entertainment

8 Unexpected Travel Movies You Probably Haven’t Seen Yet

There are the classic travel movies you know about, and then there are the newer and lesser-known travel-centric films that inspire a surprising amount of wanderlust. If you’re stuck at home thinking you’ve seen all the travel movies worth watching and rewatching, think again—here are eight unexpected options, ranging from action-packed blockbusters to indie flicks.

Downhill (2020)

The king and queen of comedy have come together for a vacation movie we can all get behind. Downhill stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Will Ferrell on a fictional family trip to the Alps that goes awry and forces them to ask hard questions about their relationship, family, and overall life together.

Charlie’s Angels (2019)

No one asked for a Charlie’s Angels reboot, but the new female-directed action movie is a surprisingly perfect travel movie for its use of many dazzling city landmarks as famous backdrops to fight and chase scenes. The new round of Angels fight bad guys in Hamburg, Germany; Istanbul, Turkey; and Chamonix, France. Anyone who’s seen Hamburg’s Philharmonic, Istanbul’s bazaars, and Chamonix’s apres ski charm will be floored.

Midsommar (2019)

Who says a horror film can’t be a travel movie? Midsommar made waves in 2019 for its haunting depiction of a fictional Swedish town that celebrates midsummer—a time when parts of the region see 24 hours of sunlight per day—with rituals carried out by a pagan cult. Keep in mind that it’s less sunny Swedish scenery and more gore and terror.

The Farewell (2019)

An independent film that racked up rave reviews and accolades in 2019, The Farewell follows a Chinese-American family overseas to visit their grandmother and stage a fake wedding when she’s (unknowingly) diagnosed with a terminal illness. A charming travel movie based on a surprisingly true story, it illustrates the divide—and some surprising similarities—between China and “the West.”

Little Women (2019)

A reboot that actually lives up to the literary classic, writer/director Greta Gerwig’s 2019 version of Little Women takes viewers back in time to both colonial New England and Paris via filming locations travelers still visit today. Concord, Massachusetts—the area where the movie was filmed—is also home to the historic Louisa May Alcott House, where Alcott wrote and set her novel Little Women. But the movie goes beyond the gorgeous New England scenery to 19th-century Paris.

The Trip to Spain (2017)

In a lesser-known movie version of their TV show The Trip, British comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon set out on a culinary journey to Spain as fictional versions of their still-famous selves. The old friends’ witty banter (and many celebrity impressions) color their visits to iconic Spanish historic sites and many mouth-watering restaurants—follow along with your own tapas and wine at home for optimal viewing. (Bonus: A new movie from the duo called The Trip to Greece is due for release in 2020.)

Crazy Rich Asians (2018)

Perhaps a more-expected movie than the others on this list: If you want to truly unwind with a hilarious and effervescent romantic comedy, there are few as over-the-top as Crazy Rich Asians, the 2018 blockbuster based on the novel trilogy by Kevin Kwan. Explore sparkling Singapore by way of a down-to-earth couple attending their first family wedding together, where old money and a new girlfriend clash in a surprisingly tender love story.

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014)

If you liked Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited as a travel movie, you’ll love the director’s The Grand Budapest Hotel for its similarly whimsical framing of a far-off, complex place. The film follows hotel staff at a 1930s ski resort as they uncover a murder and a mysterious painting, which fill in the rich cultural history of Eastern Europe with plenty of dark humor.

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SmarterTravel’s Shannon McMahon writes about all things travel. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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Arts & Culture At Home

20 Binge-Worthy Shows on Popular Streaming Services

No more excuses for “having nothing to watch”. We’ve rounded up the most binge-worthy shows on popular streaming services to help keep you entertained while stuck at home.

The Best Shows to Binge Watch on Hulu

We love Hulu for its variety of shows, affordable pricing, and integration with cable networks: You can get a streaming bundle package with ESPN, Hulu, and Disney+ for under $15 per month. Right now, Hulu is offering a free 30-day trial.

Here are our picks for the best binge-worthy shows on Hulu:

Little Fires Everywhere

little fires everywhere tv show.

The new series adapted from the best-selling novel (of the same name) features two megastars—Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington— as the main characters. All it takes is one episode to get hooked. New episodes air every Wednesday. Tip: Read the e-book first if you’re really looking to kill some time.

Shrill

shrill tv show.

You’ll quickly fall in love with this comedy starring SNL’s Aidy Bryant. There are two seasons available to binge, totaling 14 episodes.

Family-Friendly Pick: Steven Universe

steven universe tv show.

Kids and parents will love this animated coming-of-age story from Cartoon Network. All four season (126 episodes are available to stream).

Travel Pick: Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations

anthony bourdain no reservations tv show.

No binge-able TV show roundup from a travel website can omit an Anthony Bourdain show. Seasons seven and eight of fan-favorite No Reservations are available on Hulu.

The Best Shows to Binge Watch on Netflix

Netflix’s original content can’t be beat, and the streaming network gets bonus points for its incredible culinary content. Netflix is currently offering a free 30-day trial.

Here are our top binge-worthy shows on Netflix:

Ozark

ozark tv show

Transport yourself to the mysterious and gloomy world that is the Lake of the Ozarks. Netflix just released the third season of this original drama, so you have 30 episodes to binge.

Schitt’s Creek

schitts creek tv show.

If you’re in need of a pick-me-up comedy during this time, Schitt’s Creek is the perfect fit. There are five seasons currently on Netflix, and the sixth is currently airing on Comedy Central and Pop networks.

Family-Friendly Pick: The Big Family Cooking Showdown

big family cooking showdown tv show.

This family-oriented cooking competition comes from the BBC. Binge two seasons of heated fun on Netflix.

Travel Pick: Ugly Delicious

ugly delicious tv show.

Binge this documentary series on Netflix with James Beard Award-winning host, David Chang. Each episode takes you on a culinary journey and explores how a well-known food dish is made around the world. There are two seasons available to binge.

The Best Shows to Binge Watch on Amazon Prime Video

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you have free and immediate access to original Amazon Prime Video content and you can link up other networks, like Showtime, Cinemax, HBO, and more to your account with Amazon Channels. You can also try Prime free for 30 days. 

Here are our favorite binge-able shows on Prime Video right now:

The Widow

the widow tv show.

Fans of Jack Ryan will love this thriller series with the lead character, Georgia, played by Kate Beckinsale. Based in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the show takes you on a series of twists and turns as Georgia searches for her presumed-dead husband.

Family-Friendly Pick: Just Add Magic

just add magic tv show.

Mystery follows when three friends discover a magical cookbook. Follow along for the three seasons, currently on Prime Video.

The Best Shows to Binge Watch on Disney+

If you’re a Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, or National Geographic fan, then this is the streaming service for you. With Disney+ you get access to full collections from each brand and franchise for your binging pleasure. Don’t forget, you can save on a bundle package that includes ESPN, Hulu, and Disney+ for under $15 per month.

Here are our favorite TV shows to binge on Disney+:

Travel Pick: Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted

gordan ramsey uncharted tv show.

Explore the world with famed and outspoken chef Gordan Ramsay as he explores destinations like Peru, Alaska, New Zealand, and Hawaii through food in season one.

Travel Pick: Lost Cities with Albert Lin

lost cities with albert lin.

Channel your inner archeologist with this incredible docuseries, streaming on Disney+. Explore ancient ruins and landscapes with 3D-scanning and other hi-tech technologies and transport yourself to another world with a captivating National Geographic host.

The Best Shows to Binge Watch on HBO Now

HBO perhaps created the concept of binging, bringing you classic series like Sex and the City and The Sopranos long before other networks. Check out old favorites and new series with HBO’s streaming service. Thankfully, HBO is streaming hundreds of episodes for free right now.

Our favorite shows to binge watch from HBO:

The Wire

the wire tv show.

For those that didn’t get a chance to watch this fascinating series air the first time around, you can binge all five seasons for free with HBO Now. Set in Baltimore, this crime drama was created by a former police reporter.

Westworld

Currently in its third season, Westworld keeps you wanting more as it transports you to an alternate universe and an amusement park filled with robotic characters where you can live out your wildest dreams without consequence … or so it seems. The show is an adaptation of the 1973 movie, and features a recognizable and award-winning cast.

The Best Shows to Binge Watch on CBS All Access

Watch live TV, stream thousands of network episodes, and gain access to original content with a CBS All Access pass. You can even try it free for 30 days right now.

The Good Fight

the good fight tv show.

This three-season series is the first original scripted show for CBS’s All Access streaming service. The legal drama is spin-off sequel to the hit TV-series, The Good Wife (so binge that first if you haven’t seen it already). Catch up now as season four is set to premiere soon.

Star Trek: Discovery

star trek discovery tv show.

Created specifically for this streaming service, Star Trek: Discovery is the first series in the franchise to air since 2005. Set about a decade before the original series, it’s a fun TV show to binge for both those new to the franchise and die-hard fans. There are currently two seasons available to binge with a third expected this year.

The Best Shows to Binge Watch on Apple TV+

If you’re loyal to your Apple TV, then you most likely have access to a free month of Apple’s streaming service. For non-Apple TV users you can easily access these original shows with the Apple TV app to stream on your devices, and try a free seven-day trial.

Here are binge-able TV shows on Apple TV+:

For All Mankind

for all mankind tv show.

If you’re a fan of history and outer space, then this original TV series is for you. The show takes place as if the great “space race” never ended. Currently, there’s one season available to binge.

Oprah’s Book Club

oprahs book club tv show.

Oprah’s binge-able TV show really will help time fly by. Read the book for each episode and then watch Oprah interview the author and facilitate conversations about each novel.

The Best Episodes to Binge Watch on Masterclass

Ever wanted to take guitar lessons from a rock star, a business course from the CEO of a Fortune 500 company, or a cooking class from a Michelin-star chef? With a Masterclass membership you gain access to hundreds of courses taught by celebrities and professions ranging from Steph Curry to Natalie Portman.

Here are a few standout lessons on Masterclass to binge:

Martin Scorsese Teaches Filmmaking

martin scorcese master class.

Get a personal look at Martin Scorsese’s inner mind with this series of 30 lessons (about 12 minutes each) that range in topics from working with actors to production design. You’ll also get a downloadable workbook after.

Steve Martin Teaches Comedy

steve martin master class.

Learn a new skill, like comedy, with this series of 12 lessons (at 12-minutes each) by Steve Martin. From tips and tricks on how to start your act to writing faux paus, the lessons themselves are pure comedy

How to Stream New Movies

Movie-buffs, we didn’t forget about you. While movie theatres might be closed, you can still watch new releases from the comfort of your couch.

Prime Video is offering members the ability to purchase “Early Access” movies that would normally be showing in theatres, starting at $20.

In addition to offering TV shows to rent or purchase, Fandango Now is releasing “Home Premieres” as well as a selection of movies that are direct from theatres.

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Ashley Rossi is always ready for her next trip. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off the beaten path spots.

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Arts & Culture At Home Cities

32 Vacations You Can Take from Home

Vacations are going virtual … for now. So dust off your empty suitcase, pour a drink of choice, and virtually travel with us to your dream destination.

Asheville, NC 

Asheville North Carolina at Sunset.

An arts and culture haven in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is sharing food, music, and outdoor activities you can experience in your home.

Recipes to make at home include this quick and classic vodka martini from the Martini Workshop Lounge at The Foundry Hotel: A twist on the classic vodka martini, Workshop Lounge’s Martini features floral notes from the aromatic mixture of Hendrick’s Gin. In a shaker, add ice, 3/4 oz. dry vermouth, and 3 oz. Hendrick’s Gin. Mix well, strain, and pour the drink into a martini glass. Garnish with an olive.

Music and outdoor activities include an Asheville playlist on Spotify and Asheville experiences featuring 20+ virtual hikes, virtual tours of the iconic Biltmore Estate, a virtual walking tour of Blue Ridge Parkway, and virtual outdoor yoga classes.   

Australia

Head Down Under without the long flight by immersing yourself in Tourism Australia’s 360-degree aquatic and coastal experiences on YouTube. See the waves roll in along the Great Ocean Road, watch the sun set over Sydney Harbour, discover the rugged scenery along Tasmania’s Three Capes Track, and more.

Charleston, SC 

Imagine yourself in Charleston by checking out live Facebook streams of historic walking tours, led by guides at Bulldog Tours. You can also take a peek into the South Carolina Aquarium via virtual visits, held every weekday at 10:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. ET. (Past sessions are archived at the page linked above.) Carrie Morey, the founder of Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, is offering cooking demos on her Instagram account, and Explore Charleston has put together a “Charleston This Summer” playlist on Spotify.

Charlotte, NC

Check out the tourism board’s complete roundup of virtual activities in the Queen City, here. Highlights include online classes by the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s SPARK! program, virtual concerts with local talent, and online videos and tours at Discovery Place Science.

Chile

Download the free app Chile 360 to discover bucket-list attractions like Easter Island, Torres del Paine, the Atacama Desert, and more. The National Historic Museum of Chile and the Santiago Chile observatory are also offering virtual tours so you can explore the country’s arts, culture, natural landscapes, and skies.

Club Med

The fan-favorite hotel and resort chain has tons of online content with its Club Med at Home program. From yoga routines to hotel virtual tours to quizzes to kid’s activity plans, there’s plenty to do. You can even sign up for a weekly newsletter filled with more ideas and activities.

Czech Republic

From the bustling streets of Prague to kayaking in Cesky Krumlov, there are a variety of virtual experiences available for the Czech Republic’s UNESCO Sights, monuments and museums, as well as its arts and culture, like the Czech Opera. Other ways to virtually experience the Czech Republic are through this curated reading list or take a quiz about which castle in the country you should live in.

Florida

Miami beach tourists couple walking in South Beach, Miami, Florida.

Head to the Sunshine State, virtually that is. Visit Florida has compiled a range of virtual vacations, from aerial views of the beach to underwater videos.

Bring the magic of Orlando to your home with dozens of virtual experiences hosted by the city’s tourism board. Online experiences range from streaming IMAX films, virtual go-karting, and floating down a lazy river.

Naples just launched “Paradise in Place”, which is a collection of resources from area webcams to Facebook Lives of the town’s zoo.

St. Pete is also joining in on the travel-from-home fun by sharing local recipes, live beach webcams, music, and an augmented reality virtual art tour from the Salvador Dali Museum.

You can also check out the Miami region’s live webcams, which include sweeping beach views as well as an underwater coral reef cam and a feed of frolicking meerkats from Zoo Miami. You can add an audio soundtrack with this Spotify playlist from local restaurant Zuma Miami or this playlist from 1 Hotel South Beach.

France

Head to the vineyards in France, climb the Eiffel tower, tour the Louvre, and more from your computer screen with Explore France’s roundup. The tourism board has also curated book and movie lists to keep you further entertained. 

For the true history buffs, you can take an online course through The Great Courses and learn more about the country’s fascinating history and cultural treasures.

Hawaii

Transport yourself to the Hawaiian Islands with online experiences like a virtual field trip of the Battleship Missouri Memorial or learn how to traditional dance with the Polynesian Cultural Center. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the end of WWII and you can find interactive exercises and commemorations online, here.

Jamaica 

While Jamaica can’t bring its sun, sand, and surf to you, it can help you bring the vacation spirit home. Start out by recreating this traditional Blue Mountain Coffee body scrub at home, courtesy of Playa Hotels & Resorts: “Combine 1/2 cup ground coffee, 1/4 cup cold-pressed coconut oil, and one drop of your favorite essential oil. Apply 1/4 cup coffee oil to the entire body, using strong circular motions to assist the stimulation of blood flow. Use drops of the coffee oil under the eyes and place iced cucumbers on the eyes for added benefits. Rinse and enjoy.”

Then head to the kitchen to whip up some jerk pork chops using the Hyatt Ziva Rose Hall’s recipe. Here’s what you’ll need: one ounce pimento seeds (all spice), 1 1/4 ounces Scotch bonnet pepper, 1/2 ounce fresh thyme, nine ounces onion (chopped), three ounces fresh garlic (peeled and chopped), 3 1/2 ounces fresh ginger (peeled and chopped), three ounces scallion (green onion, chopped), a pinch of chopped bay leaf, 1 1/2 ounces brown sugar, a pinch of ground cinnamon, a pinch of ground nutmeg, six ounces soy sauce (low sodium), two ounces olive oil, a pinch of sea salt, a pinch of black peppercorns, and one ounce of white distilled vinegar. Got the goods? Now follow the instructions: “To prepare your Jerk marinade place all the ingredients into a food processor or blender and liquefy. Pour in a jar with a closed lid and keep it refrigerated. This marinade will last you a very long time as long as you keep refrigerated. Bone-in pork chops should be marinated 24 hours in advance with the marinade that you prepared the day before. Using a BBQ smoked grill, grill each chop for approximately eight minutes. Cover grill in between to obtain that awesome island smoke flavor.”

For a more visual taste of Jamaica, you can also check out the live stream at Rick’s Cafe. Things are pretty quiet right now, but you still see the sea sparkle and the breeze ruffle the curtains. 

Japan

Kiyomizu-dera Temple kyoto japan.

While the Olympics might be postponed, you can still explore the host country virtually. From a live feed of the famous Shibuya Crossing to snow monkeys bathing in hot springs, you’ll find a range of experiences online. You can even view the cherry blossoms blooming in locations like Miharu Falls in Fukushima and Hirosaki Park. If you are looking to learn even more, take an online course, like Understanding Japan (the course consists of 24, 30-minute lectures).

Ireland

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=GdYD-dNzjdI&feature=emb_logo

You’ll likely recognize many of Ireland’s landscapes from your favorite movies and TV series like the Star Wars series and Game of Thrones; now the country’s tourism board has curated entertainment experiences featuring Hollywood and the Emerald Isle. 

Watch: 

Lexington, KY 

In need of some adorable animals? Visit Horse Country launched virtual tours of thoroughbred farms, where you can watch foals frolic in fields, celebrate horse birthdays, and more. 

Or pour a glass of Buffalo Trace Distillery bourbon and watch its new virtual distillery tour for an educational happy hour. 

Macao

Virtually experience this exciting destination with a variety of VR experiences on the region’s YouTube channel, like Chinese New Year and even jump off the world’s tallest bungee jump (from your computer, of course).

Malta

This historic European nation has partnered with Google Arts & Culture to bring you Heritage Malta Virtual Tours. Right now you’ll find more than 25 sites including museums, temples, forts, archaeological sites, and three of the country’s UNESCO Heritage sites, including the capital of Valletta. 

New Orleans

Listen and eat like you’re in NOLA, from home. The city’s tourism board has a list of museums and other learning centers that are offering virtual experiences, like the Audubon Nature Insitute and the National WWII Museum. You can also take a virtual cooking class (or order a cookbook), a full list of participating chefs can be found here. Or, listen to a live stream of some jazz (or other local NOLA-based artists and bands).

Nashville, TN

Nashville’s tourism board, Visit Music City, has put together an entire portal of virtual experiences called “Visit Nashville from Home.” From a virtual tour of the Jack Daniel’s distillery to a weekly radio broadcast of The Grand Ole Opry, you can have your Tennessee whiskey and listen to some honky-tonk tunes all from your couch. 

Check out the full list of virtual attractions in Nashville here

New York

Leave it to New York City to put its entire city online. NYC Go has a list of seemingly endless virtual experiences that you can find online. From live streams of performing arts and Broadway shows to genealogy discovery lessons with Ellis Island, you’ll find the complete list of online activities here. You’ll find us virtually exploring the New York Botanical Garden and taking a free ballet class with the New York City Ballet on Instagram.

NYC-boutique hotel brand Arlo Hotels is hosting virtual programming like Monday Movie Nights, Tuesday Tutorials, a Weekend Reads book club, and more on its Instagram Live channel. NYC residents get extra perks with free delivery from Harold’s and different menu combos. 

The rest of the state is also taking part in virtual activities with a virtual experience of Niagara Falls, a baby goat cam from local skincare brand Beekman 1802, online exhibits with the Baseball Hall of Fame, virtual happy hours organized by the state’s brewers association, and more.

Get out in nature virtually with live streams from the Finger Lakes region of central New York. Pretend that you’re at Bristol Harbour watching the sunset over Canandaigua Lake, or virtually hit the slopes via 24/7 live streams from Bristol Mountain and Greek Peak ski resorts.

Philadelphia, PA

For those who want to experience the City of Brotherly Love, check out the tourism board’s roundup of activities to experience Philadelphia from Home. Virtual activities include the Philadelphia Zoo, dozens of museums, and curated playlists on Spotify featuring local and legendary artists.

Portugal 

Visit Portugal has a variety of ways that you can explore Portugal from home, including reading lists and dozens of videos on its YouTube channel as a part of its #CantSkipHope campaign. Pour yourself some port wine and enjoy the views.

Puerto Rico

Escape to the Caribbean with Puerto Rico’s virtual weekend getaway. Each weekend the tourism board is lining up virtual activities like salsa dancing, cocktail making, and cooking classes. Stay up to date on what’s planned by following @discoverpuertorico on social media.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

puerto vallarta beach at sunset.

Velas Resorts is virtually offering classes and workshops for the next 40 days to help share Mexico’s culture and experiences with you at home. Join here and on social media for activities like a Mexican toy workshop, resort-chef led cooking classes, hotel-style bed making, yoga for kids, massage lessons by the resort’s massage therapists, and more. Follow hashtag #BetterTogether on Velas Resorts’ social media channels for more info. 

Qatar

Transport yourself to this culturally important country in the Middle East and view the Museum of Islamic Art, National Museum of Qatar, and the Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art through Google Arts & Culture.

San Antonio, TX

A handful of the city’s museums and animal attractions have made their entertainment accessible online. Families and kids will particularly find many of the streams exciting, like access to The DoSeum, San Antonio’s children’s museum, as well as the city’s zoo. Additionally, the San Antonio Museum of Art has put its entire collection online, free of charge. The museum is also offering virtual storytime and lesson plans that are free for educators. 

Sonoma, CA 

Sonoma County has been creative in the ways it’s bringing wine-country living into homes around the world. Inman Wines is hosting Meet the Maker happy hours, Belden Barns is launching a virtual tasting series on Sundays, and Kendall-Jackson is hosting virtual wine tastings via Instagram (or watch anytime on its IGTV channel), and has a playlist inspired by harvest time. 

Get your yoga on, Sonoma-style, with online classes from Three Dog Yoga or Yoga on Center, or take an IGTV class with local practitioner Nina Jarnum. If you’re missing nature while you’re cooped up, check out nature-focused meditations from hiking-tour leader Margaret Lindgren. 

Sonoma is a family-friendly place, and that’s on full display in the way that kids can visit virtually right now. Safari West is posting videos to its Facebook page, Charlie’s Acres is running virtual animal visits on its social channels, and the Children’s Museum of Sonoma County is offering toddler activities on its Instagram page. The Museum of Sonoma County even has a virtual Escape Room experience. 

St. Lucia

If St. Lucia has been on your bucket list, as it is on ours, head there virtually with the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority’s “7 Minutes in Saint Lucia.” You’ll find experiences like yoga at the Pitons, tropical cocktail making, hiking the Tet Paul Nature Trail, and Caribbean cooking classes on Instagram @TravelSaintLucia, twice per week.

Tuscany, Italy

The Monteverdi Tuscany is introducing a new streaming music program to benefit the many musicians the hotel has worked with over the years through its cultural programming. Enjoy its efforts to help locals while you’re stuck at home.

The virtual performances have already debuted on the Monteverdi Tuscany Instagram account @Monteverdi_Tuscany featuring a tenor and a violinist of the Metropolitan Opera. Both artists are sharing their memories of performing at the property and performances recorded separately in their homes.

Vancouver, Canada

#VirtuallyVancouver (hosted by the tourism board) rounds up a variety of armchair activities to explore the Pacific Northwest city. Take a virtual tour of the cherry blossoms with a series of Tree Walks, view the live cam at the Vancouver Aquarium, view an entrant film for VIFF (Vancouver International Film Festival), and plenty more.

Viator

Our sister site is hosting hundreds of virtual tours, both free and paid, for you to explore from your couch for the ultimate armchair travel. From 360 videos to virtual cooking classes to guided museum tours, the tour-booking site has everything you could possibly dream of virtually doing, all in one place.

Viking.TV

Experience a Viking cruise from your television with Viking’s launch of Viking.TV. In addition to housing onboard content, the cruise line is hosting live content with experts and cultural partners each week. Tune in for Museum Mondays, Resident Historian Tuesdays, Wednesdays with Music, Guest Speaker Thursdays, Fridays at Home at Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey fans take note!), and Wellness Weekends, as well as daily conversations with the executive vice president, Karine Hagen. You’ll also find suggested reading lists, music playlists, and film recommendations for popular itineraries, so you can start daydreaming about your next cruise vacation.

Virtual Disney World 

Experience the thrill of dozens of Disney World rides on YouTube. From classics like Splash and Space Mountain to even Monorail rides, it’s the perfect way to recreate your postponed Disney vacation. The Virtual Disney World YouTube channel (not affiliated, sponsored, or endorsed by the Walt Disney Company) notes that the 360-degree videos are best experienced with a VR headset or a smartphone with a virtual headset, such as Google Cardboard or Samsung VR, and recommends using the YouTube app for the full 360-degree experience.

Share Your Virtual Vacation or Travel Inspiration With Us:

Are you itching to travel? So are we … that’s why we started the #GoLater campaign on social media. We want to see which destinations YOU are dreaming of. Head over to our Instagram channel (@smartertravel) to learn more. 

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14 Amazing Travel Memoirs to Read When You're Stuck at Home

At times when you can’t travel, the best travel memoirs can transport you to far-away places, helping to feed your wanderlust even if you’re currently confined to your couch. The travel memoirs below capture destinations as far-flung as India, Australia, and Antarctica, and are all worth adding to your to-read list.

Travels with Charley in Search of America, John Steinbeck

Travels with Charley in Search of America, John Steinbeck.

This classic travel memoir follows John Steinbeck and his French poodle Charley across the U.S. from New York to Maine to California and back again. Travels with Charley offers a striking portrait of early 1960s America, from dramatic natural landscapes and simmering racial tensions to quirky characters he meets along the way.

The Singular Pilgrim: Travels on Sacred Ground, Rosemary Mahoney

The Singular Pilgrim: Travels on Sacred Ground, Rosemary Mahoney.

From Spain’s 500-mile Camino de Santiago to the Ganges River in Varanasi, India, Rosemary Mahoney follows in the footsteps of religious believers on some of the world’s holiest journeys. The Singular Pilgrim blends humor, curiosity, and keen insight as Mahoney confronts her own Irish Catholic heritage and finds grace in unexpected places.

From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home, Tembi Locke

From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home, Tembi Locke.

“In Sicily, every story begins with a marriage or a death. In my case, it’s both,” writes Tembi Locke on the first page of this moving memoir. Locke, an African-American actress, falls in love with a Sicilian chef whose family disapproves of their union. But after her husband’s untimely death, Locke brings their daughter to Sicily and slowly forges a relationship with his family that helps them all heal.

In a Sunburned Country, Bill Bryson

In a Sunburned Country, Bill Bryson.

There’s a reason Bill Bryson is one of the most popular travel writers in the English language, and his signature wit and insight are on full display throughout In a Sunburned Country. As Bryson travels across Australia, he peppers fun facts with wry observations and conversations with cheery locals, bringing the country to life in his own inimitable style.

All the Way to the Tigers, Mary Morris

All the Way to the Tigers, Mary Morris.

The newest travel memoir in this list, All the Way to the Tigers is well worth a preorder. It covers two journeys in one: Morris’ recovery from a devastating injury and her subsequent trip to India in search of tigers. Morris offers both inspiration and insight in this beautifully written book.

Comfort Me with Apples: A Journey Through Life, Love and Truffles, Ruth Reichl

Comfort Me with Apples: A Journey Through Life, Love and Truffles, Ruth Reichl.

In Comfort Me with Apples, readers can eat their way around the world with food writer Ruth Reichl, sampling dry-fried shrimp in China and truffles in France. Reichl’s conversational writing style makes it feel like she’s talking to a friend—and her food descriptions will leave you hungry.

Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail, Cheryl Strayed

You might not expect a story of a woman hiking alone to be a page turner, but this international bestseller proves that wrong. Strayed writes about a period of crisis in her 20s, following the death of her mother and the dissolution of her marriage, when she made the brash decision to hike more than 1,000 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from California to Washington. Her journey was as much emotional as physical, and Strayed writes about it in raw, visceral prose.

Ice Diaries, Jean McNeil

Ice Diaries, Jean McNeil.

In Ice Diaries, Jean McNeil combines personal stories from her childhood in the Canadian Maritimes with vivid descriptions of her four months in Antarctica, as well as journeys to other icy destinations such as Svalbard and Greenland. Whether you’ve traveled to Antarctica or it’s still on your bucket list, McNeil’s book offers fascinating insight into the continent’s history and landscape.

Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria, Noo Saro-Wiwa

Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria, Noo Saro-Wiwa.

Though she grew up mostly in London, Noo Saro-Wiwa made frequent visits to Nigeria to visit her father, an activist who was later executed by the government. As an adult, she returns to the country for a deeper exploration of its corruption, culture, and unexpected charms. Looking for Transwonderland uses insight and humor to paint a multifaceted portrait of Nigeria.

The Lady and the Monk: Four Seasons in Kyoto, Pico Iyer

The Lady and the Monk: Four Seasons in Kyoto, Pico Iyer.

Pico Iyer intended to spend his year in Kyoto studying Zen Buddhism at a monastery and learning about Japan’s traditional culture—but his plans are upended when he meets a woman named Sachiko. The Lady and the Monk details their relationship, marked by cross-cultural misunderstandings and Iyer’s deepening appreciation for Japan in all its complexity.

All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft, Geraldine DeRuiter

All Over the Place: Adventures in Travel, True Love, and Petty Theft, Geraldine DeRuiter.

Geraldine DeRuiter leads off the aptly titled All Over the Place with a wry disclaimer, noting that her book is not particularly informative and confessing, “If you follow my lead, you will get hopelessly, miserably lost.” But that only makes this book even more fun to read, as DeRuiter and her husband careen around the world, getting sick, getting lost, and falling even more deeply in love.

Wild Coast: Travels on South America’s Untamed Edge, John Gimlette

If you’re drawn to the unfamiliar, Wild Coast is well worth a read. Gimlette takes readers to three rarely visited countries in South America—Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana—to reveal their colorful history, rare wildlife, and remote jungles.

The Snow Leopard, Peter Matthiessen

The Snow Leopard, Peter Matthiessen.

A masterwork of nature writing, The Snow Leopard details the author’s trek into the Himalayas in search of one of the Earth’s rarest and most elusive creatures. Matthiessen was a Zen Buddhist, and his memoir also includes his own internal journey toward a deeper understanding of the world around him.

Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle, Dervla Murphy

Full Tilt: Ireland to India with a Bicycle, Dervla Murphy.

The ultimate adventure story, Full Tilt follows an Irish woman in the early 1960s on a solo bicycle expedition across Europe and through Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India, accompanied only by her .25 revolver. Murphy encounters snow, sunstroke, stomach trouble, and other discomforts, but her struggles are offset by the fascinating people she meets and the magnificent landscapes through which she rides.

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12 Popular Podcasts to Discover Right Now

Podcasts are perfect entertainment. Pop in your earbuds and you can keep up with the latest headlines, learn something new, or have a laugh. Here are 12 of the best podcasts to binge on next time you find yourself with some down time.

Armchair Expert

Armchair Expert

Join celebrity actor/comedian Dax Shepard as he interviews famous actors, actresses, comedians, and more public figures from, you guessed it, his armchair. Armchair Expert is nearing its 200th episode (at the time of writing) and has featured guests from Ashton Kutcher to Monica Lewinsky.

The Daily

The Daily

The New York Timesmost popular podcast makes it easy to stay up to date on U.S. politics on the fly. Journalist Michael Barbaro interviews a different Times reporter every podcast to talk about the latest news in 20 minutes or less. From updates on the White House to environmental disasters, The Daily provides expert news analysis and tells you everything you need to know. 

The World Wanderers

The World Wanderers

This travel podcast features two young adventurers who share their advice for making the most of a trip. If you’re looking for more destinations to add to your bucket list, this is the perfect podcast for you. Each episode highlights a new location (think Iceland and Guadalajara) or discusses how travel can lead to a happier life. 

Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness

Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness

Queer Eye fans, take heart. Jonathan Van Ness brings his curiosity and delightful sense of humor to this informative podcast. Van Ness explores a new topic in each episode, from female entrepreneurship with Reese Witherspoon to what white people need to know about racism with Andrew Ti. Listen carefully and you’ll also hear Van Ness’ hilarious attempts to speak in British and Australian accents.

Science Vs

Science Vs

Are vitamins effective? Is veganism good for the environment? Science experts answer all these questions and more with witty commentary and interesting stories. This podcast makes science easy and fun to learn on the road. You might even find that the conversations about vaccines and the Zika virus are helpful during your travels.

Skimm’d from the Couch

Skimm’d from the Couch

The two co-founders of theSkimm, a popular daily newsletter for young people, discuss female leadership and entrepreneurship. From interviewing Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, to Arianna Huffington and the Today Show’s Savannah Guthrie, theSkimm’s founders will make you want to start a business as soon as you get home from your trip.

Death, Sex & Money

Death, Sex & Money

There are some conversations that are rarely discussed in public, and those are the focus of the podcast Death, Sex & Money. Host Anna Sale talks to journalists, a Supreme Court justice, and actors about tough topics like fertility and heroin addiction. This award-winning podcast will make you think deeply during and after your travels.

Invisibilia

Invisibilia

Invisibilia will leave you contemplating the meaning of life, relationships, and more. This NPR podcast explores the unseen forces that control human behavior. From how we create emotions to the societal expectation to pursue money and happiness, this podcast will change how you see the world.

The Habitat

The Habitat

Imagine giving up everything you own for one year to live in a tent on a remote Hawaiian mountain. That’s what six strangers did when they pretended to live on Mars for a NASA experiment. Discover the difficulties, triumphs, and evolving and devolving relationships of these strangers isolated on a fake planet. After you finish the episodes, check out the other addictive podcasts from Gimlet, the company behind this series.

[st_related]The Best Audiobooks for Road Trips or Plane Travel[/st_related]

Serial

Serial

With three seasons available to binge, this riveting series is the podcast that started it all. As one of the first podcasts of the modern podcast era to earn critical success, Serial talks you through unsolved murders, the story of Bowe Bergdahl, and more. Host Sarah Koenig engagingly narrates tales of deception and desertion. Give it a listen and see why millions of fans tune into this hit podcast.

Wild Ideas Worth Living

Wild Ideas Worth Living

The podcast brought to you from outdoor retailer REI Co-op takes a deep and thoughtful look at what it means to be outdoors and travel. Most episodes are interviews that tell a unique story about the outdoors, whether it be singer Mike Posner’s trek to walk across the U.S. or a man who trains a donkey to be his running partner.

Women Who Travel

Women Who Travel

What started as a Facebook group for female travelers to connect and share stories has become Conde Nast Traveler’s wildly popular podcast. Women Who Travel tells the stories of female entrepreneurs, travelers, and pioneers in the industry. Episodes are released weekly by staff editors.

How to Listen

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Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2018 and has been updated with the latest information. Ashley Rossi contributed to this story.

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21 Sites Offering Virtual Tours and Live Streams for Travelers Stuck at Home

As the world grinds to a halt in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, many would-be travelers find themselves stuck at home, dreaming of their next trip. Fortunately, the internet is here to help. You can take a virtual tour of the world’s great art museums, watch live streams of adorable animals in aquariums and zoos, and even catch a Broadway show, all from the comfort of your couch.

Sistine Chapel, Vatican City

Though Italy remains in lockdown, the Vatican Museums have put a virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel on their website so you can explore its magnificent artwork without the crowds.

Google Arts & Culture

Use the Street View section of Google Arts & Culture for a peek inside dozens of museums and landmarks, including the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, the Museo Frida Kahlo in Mexico City, the Musee d’Orsay in Paris, the Australian National Surfing Museum in Torquay, and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

Broadway HD

Broadway may be dark right now, but you can stream shows like Kinky Boots, Miss Saigon, and Macbeth through subscription service Broadway HD. You can start with a seven-day free trial, then pay a monthly or yearly fee.

Zoos Victoria, Australia

Two zoos in Victoria, Australia, are bringing some of their most popular critters visible through live cams. Tune in for a glimpse at penguins, baby snow leopards, giraffes, and lions.

The British Museum, London

Take a virtual tour through time and space as you explore the British Museum’s wide-ranging collections, from Japanese porcelain to ancient Egyptian artifacts.

The Metropolitan Opera, New York

Need a culture fix? The Met is streaming archived opera performances each night through March 29 while the opera house is closed, including works from Wagner, Tchaikovsky, and more.

Monterey Bay Aquarium, California

Be mesmerized by tropical fish, sharks, jellyfish, penguins, and birds on the live cams of the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California.

The Frick Collection, New York

Survey the works of Old Masters like Rembrandt and Vermeer in a Gilded Age mansion with a virtual visit to the Frick Collection.

Skyline Webcams

What’s happening at the Roman Colosseum or at the Zocalo in Mexico City? Spoiler alert: Right now, not much. But there’s something soothing about being able to look out over famous landmarks and beautiful beaches, even if they’re eerily deserted at the moment. Check out the full lineup of destinations at Skyline Webcams.

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, Madrid

Madrid’s Thyssen Bornemisza Museum, currently closed, is offering a virtual tour of its Rembrandt and Amsterdam Portraiture exhibition, scheduled to run through May 24.

National Museum of Natural History, Washington, D.C.

Get your fill of dinosaur fossils, minerals, Egyptian artifacts, and more with a virtual tour of this Smithsonian institution, including past and current exhibits.

Berlin Philharmonic, Berlin

The Berlin Philharmonic is making the performances in its Digital Concert Hall free for everyone who signs up by March 31.

San Diego Zoo, California

Let cute furry animals ease your cabin fever by tuning into the live cams from the San Diego Zoo, featuring koalas, pandas, polar bears, elephants, and more.

360Cities

Providing 360-degree views of cities and natural areas across the globe, 360Cities offers a fun way to virtually visit rainforests, monasteries, and geysers. Check out the site’s curated collections or search on a world map.

Volunteer Park Conservatory, Seattle

Need a moment of Zen? This conservatory is posting daily live streams of plants and flowers on its Instagram account.

Yosemite National Park, California

Explore Yosemite’s waterfalls, lakes, and rugged rocks through the imagery at Virtual Yosemite.

The Anne Frank House, Amsterdam

Peek around the Secret Annex where Anne Frank and her family hid during World War II.

Google Earth

Take in 360-degree views of the Matterhorn, the Hoover Dam, the Florence Duomo, and more on Google Earth.

Florida Beaches

Give yourself a virtual vacation with rolling waves and sunshine from live cams across the Fort Myers and Sanibel areas of Florida.

Tenerife, Spain

See spectacular aerial views of beaches, mountains, parks, and rocky coast in Spain’s Canary Islands chain.

National Palace Museum, Taiwan

Navigate your way through the serene gardens and priceless exhibits of Taiwan’s National Palace Museum via this virtual tour.

Working From Home? Make it Comfy

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Planning a Trip to the Grand Canyon

No matter how many photos you’ve seen of the Grand Canyon, standing at the rim’s edge for the first time will take your breath away—especially if you’re there at sunset, as the fading light paints shades of rose, violet, and gold onto the ancient rocks. But planning a trip to the Grand Canyon requires more than just booking a hotel and packing your camera.

Planning a Trip to the Grand Canyon

When should you travel to avoid the heaviest crowds and the most intense heat? Should you visit the North Rim or the South Rim? Where’s the best place to stay? For answers to these questions and more, read the following tips for planning a trip to the Grand Canyon.

Editor’s note: Many Grand Canyon facilities and tour operators have temporarily closed or made other modifications due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Check each provider’s website for full details before making plans.

South Rim vs. North Rim vs. Grand Canyon West

Grand Canyon National Park is split into two sections: the South Rim and the North Rim, located more than four hours apart by car. Then there’s Grand Canyon West, located on the Hualapai Native American Reservation, four hours from the South Rim and nearly seven hours from the North Rim. If you’re planning a trip to the Grand Canyon and your time is limited, where should you go?

The South Rim is the most visited part of the Grand Canyon for a reason. It has more viewpoints than the North Rim, with more expansive views of the canyon’s depth, as well as a wider range of lodging options and other visitor services. It also has plenty of hiking trails and activities like river rafting and mule rides. If you’re looking for classic Grand Canyon views, this is the place to go.

Popular with hikers and photographers, the North Rim is the South Rim’s quieter, more heavily forested cousin. While the views may be less spectacular, many travelers prefer the North Rim for its undisturbed wildlife and pristine trails.

The key draw at Grand Canyon West is the Skywalk, a glass bridge that extends 70 feet over the canyon for dizzying views on all sides—including right under your feet. (Important note: The Skywalk does not permit cameras or phones. Professional photos are available for sale.) This isn’t the best bet for avid hikers, as there are only two (relatively easy) trails here, but other activities include zip-lining, pontoon boat rides, and touring a Native American village. Grand Canyon West is the closest part of the canyon to Las Vegas, making it a convenient, though long, day trip.

Note that because Grand Canyon West is located on Native American land, it requires a separate entry fee than the North and South Rims, which are administered by the National Park Service.

When to Visit the Grand Canyon

planning a trip to the grand canyon

When planning a trip to the Grand Canyon, consider visiting the South Rim any time other than summer—especially if you’re hoping to hike all the way down to the bottom of the canyon, where temperatures can soar above 100 degrees Fahrenheit in July and August. Summer is also the busiest time of year; lodging in the park is expensive and sells out quickly, and viewpoints along the rim can be jammed with crowds.

The South Rim is open all year round, and you’ll find pleasant temperatures and smaller crowds in the shoulder seasons (spring and fall). Even a winter visit can be rewarding; bundle up and enjoy the sight of the canyon dusted with snow.

Thanks to its higher altitude, the North Rim has a cooler climate and is closed between mid-October and mid-May. Fortunately, this part of the park sees fewer visitors and isn’t usually crowded even during the summer high season. Consider visiting in the fall, when the Kaibab National Forest erupts in vibrant colors.

Grand Canyon West, open year-round, is less crowded outside the summer months.

Getting to the Grand Canyon

Most visitors to the Grand Canyon fly into Las Vegas or Phoenix. There’s also a small airport in Flagstaff, just an hour from the South Rim, and some North Rim travelers fly into Salt Lake City. No matter where you land you’ll need to rent a car, as public transit is extremely limited in this part of the U.S.

Once you arrive at the Grand Canyon, you might need to park your car and take a shuttle bus to get around. Grand Canyon West is closed to private vehicles and operates a hop-on, hop-off shuttle around the park, while certain parts of the South Rim are only accessible by bus. A shuttle service makes the 4.5-hour trip between the North and South Rims; it’s particularly handy for rim-to-rim hikers. The North Rim is fully open to private vehicles.

One fun alternative way to arrive at the South Rim is via the Grand Canyon Railway, which runs from the town of Williams, Arizona, into the heart of the park, allowing for a half-day of exploring before returning in the afternoon.

Grand Canyon Lodging

The most convenient Grand Canyon lodging options are within the national park or Grand Canyon West rather than in nearby towns, but these options tend to book up quickly—sometimes months in advance. When planning a trip to the Canyon, reserve your accommodations first.

The South Rim section of Grand Canyon National Park is home to half a dozen lodges, including the venerable El Tovar, which dates back to 1905 and has hosted former presidents Theodore Roosevelt and Bill Clinton. Another option is the Bright Angel Lodge, situated at the top of the park’s most popular trail. There’s also an RV park near the main visitor center, as well as two campgrounds.

If you can’t find lodging within the South Rim section of the park, there’s a handful of options in nearby Tusayan, as well as dozens of hotels (mostly chain motels) in Williams and Flagstaff, each a little more than an hour from the park entrance gates.

The North Rim has just two places to stay inside the park: the Grand Canyon Lodge, which offers motel rooms and cabins, and the North Rim Campground. If these are booked, consider the Jacob Lake Inn, 45 miles away, or head farther afield to Kanab, Utah, or Page, Arizona.

The most unique place to stay at Grand Canyon National Park is Phantom Ranch, located on the canyon floor. The only ways to get there are to hike or ride a mule down.

If you want to stay overnight within Grand Canyon West, you can book a cabin at Hualapai Ranch; each one features a front porch where you can relax and enjoy the desert views.

Grand Canyon Hikes

When planning a trip to the Grand Canyon, leave time for a hike or two.

The simplest walk at Grand Canyon National Park is the Rim Trail, which stretches for 13—mostly flat—miles along the top of the South Rim. Much of it is paved and wheelchair-accessible, and you can enter and leave the path at any viewpoint.

If your fitness allows, try to hike at least part of the way into the Grand Canyon; you’ll get a completely different perspective than you do from the top.

The most popular South Rim trail into the canyon is the Bright Angel Trail, which is well maintained and offers some shade along the way. Another good option is the South Kaibab Trail—it is a little steeper and has less shade, but boasts slightly more dramatic views if you’re only doing part of the trail. While both of these trails go all the way to the bottom, you can easily transform each of them into a day hike by turning around at one of the mile markers and going back the way you came.

The North Rim offers a variety of day hikes ranging from less than a mile to about 10 miles round-trip. It’s possible to hike into the canyon from the North Rim on the North Kaibab Trail and back out of the canyon via one of the trails on the South Rim (or vice versa); this is recommended only for fit, experienced hikers.

For information on all the trails listed above, see the day hiking information page on NPS.gov.

The National Park Service strongly recommends against hiking down to the river and back in a single day, even if you’re a veteran hiker. Instead, plan to overnight at Phantom Ranch or one of several backcountry campgrounds within the canyon.

Keep in mind that it usually takes twice as long to come back up the trail as it does to go down, and that temperatures at the bottom of the canyon can be up to 20 degrees higher than those at the top. Hundreds of hikers are rescued each year from the canyon due to dehydration, heat exhaustion, or injury.

Grand Canyon West offers just two hiking trails, one easy and one moderate, and neither one goes into the canyon.

One intriguing Grand Canyon hike to consider is the 10-mile (each way) track to Havasu Falls, the famous turquoise cascade you’ve probably seen on your Instagram feed. It’s located on Native American land between the South Rim and Grand Canyon West. Reservations are required (and limited). To learn more, see the NPS website.

Mule Rides, Rafting Trips, and Helicopter Tours

When planning a trip to the Grand Canyon, don’t forget about other activities besides hiking, like riding a mule into the canyon. (Why a mule? They’re more sure-footed than horses.)

From the South Rim you can ride a mule to the Colorado River and spend a night or two at Phantom Ranch, or take a shorter two-hour ride along the rim. (See GrandCanyonLodges.com.) From the North Rim you can take one- or three-hour rides along the rim or part of the way into the canyon. (See CanyonRides.com.) Book as far in advance as possible to guarantee yourself a spot.

Dreaming of rafting the Colorado River? You can take a guided trip in the national park with options from a half-day to more than two weeks, or plan your own trip with a permit from the National Park Service. To plan a one- or two-day rafting trip at Grand Canyon West, visit GrandCanyonWest.com.

Finally, one of the most incredible ways to view the Grand Canyon is from the air. Numerous companies operate helicopter tours over the canyon, including Grand Canyon Helicopters and Papillon.

General Grand Canyon Travel Tips

As soon as you arrive, stop by the visitor center—especially if you have limited time. Park rangers can help design an itinerary to make the most of your visit, suggest hikes to suit your fitness level, and recommend the best viewpoints for sunrise and/or sunset.

The desert heat can be deadly, so hikers should pack plenty of water as well as salty snacks. Bring a reusable bottle that you can fill up at water stations located throughout the national park. Start hiking early in the morning to avoid the midday sun. If you get a headache or start to feel dizzy or sick to your stomach, stop to rest and rehydrate.

The South Rim is located at 7,000 feet above sea level, and the North Rim is at nearly 8,300 feet. Some travelers may experience fatigue, headaches, or other symptoms of altitude sickness.

Stick to the trail. Not only does this protect the landscape, but it also protects you. Numerous tourists have died after falling from the rim of the canyon.

The most crowded viewpoints at the South Rim are those nearest the parking lots and bus stops. To avoid getting a hundred other people in every photo, walk along the Rim Trail in either direction. Often you can snap great shots along the trail or find your way to a less congested viewpoint.

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Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2017. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

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10 Engrossing Audiobooks for Travelers

Stuck at home, in a car, or on a long flight? There’s no better way to pass the time than by enjoying a book hands-free. Here are some of the best audiobooks for travelers.

[st_related]9 Podcasts to Listen to on Your Next Trip[/st_related]

True West, Sam Shepard

Heading west on a road trip? Kick off the adventure with True West, a dark comedy and American classic about a sibling rivalry that plays out in the California desert. A screenplay about a film script, True West might be a better listen than it is a read, and it doesn’t hurt that actors Kit Harrington and Johnny Flynn are the narrators.

Length: 87 minutes

What People Are Saying: “Kit Harington (Games of Thrones) and Johnny Flynn (Beast) smolder and burn as sparring brothers in Sam Shepard’s darkly comic 1980 drama. The Cain and Abel conflict is a showdown of sibling rivalry, to be sure, but also bears witness to a legacy of booze-fueled family brawls.”–Amazon

Heads Will Roll, Kate McKinnon

SNL fans and comedy connoisseurs alike will love and laugh at Heads Will Roll by Kate McKinnon and Emily Lynne—which is not to be listened to within earshot of kids. The SNL star and her sister steer this 10-episode theatrical audiobook comedy with the help of big stars ranging from narrator Tim Gunn to Meryl Streep.

Length: 4 hours

What People Are Saying: “The series stars McKinnon as a malevolent monarch and her sister, Emily Lynne, as a scatterbrained minion. It appears to poke fun at tired tropes of the evil queen and the hero’s journey while also relishing in their theatrical value. In terms of plot, the story focuses on McKinnon’s character, Queen Mortuana of the Night Realm, who catches wind of a potential peasant uprising and realizes that in order to put down the rebellion, she and her assistant JoJo (played by Lynne) must go on a quest.”—PopDust

The Buried, Peter Hessler

The telling of the most recent Egyptian revolution through the lens of ancient archaeology, The Buried: An Archaeology of the Egyptian Revolution is authored by New Yorker writer Peter Hessler, who moved to Cairo with his family just before the Egyptian Arab Spring began in 2011. History, politics, and cultural norms converge through the lives of the locals Hessler meets, and link today’s Egypt with ancient times in a satisfying explainer of Egypt’s rich past and complex present.

Length: 16 hours, 44 minutes

What People Are Saying: “Seen from afar, tectonic political shifts often look as if they consume a society. But have you ever been someplace in the middle of momentous political events and found everyone around you getting on with daily life? Few reporters seem better placed to fathom the complexities of this dynamic—ripples of disquiet permeating routine existence—than Peter Hessler.”—The Wall Street Journal

The Pioneers, David McCullough

History buffs can revel in the years during which the first band of settlers set out from Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin to conquer the American Northwest, with David McCullough’s The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West. The real-life accounts are drawn from rare diary entries by the subjects of the novel.

Length: 10 hours, 23 minutes

What People Are Saying: “McCullough tells the story through five major characters: Cutler and Putnam; Cutler’s son Ephraim; and two other men, one a carpenter turned architect and the other a physician who became a prominent pioneer in American science. They and their families created a town in a primeval wilderness while coping with such frontier realities as floods, fires, wolves and bears, no roads or bridges, and no guarantees of any sort, all the while negotiating a contentious and sometimes hostile relationship with the native people. Like so many of McCullough’s subjects, they let no obstacle deter or defeat them.”—Amazon 

Life Will Be the Death of Me, Chelsea Handler

The latest memoir by talk-show comedian Chelsea Handler surprises audiences with its rawness that transcends comedy by addressing the state of American politics. Life Will Be the Death of Me … and You Too is Handler’s sixth book.

Length: 5 hours, 25 minutes

What People Are Saying: “You thought you knew Chelsea Handler—and she thought she knew herself—but in her new book, she discovers that true progress lies in the direction we haven’t been.”—Gloria Steinem

Game of Thrones, George R.R. Martin

HBO’s hit show might be over, but you can go back to the beginning with Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire, Book 1. Or choose from the entire series, which are some of the best audiobooks for road trips even if you’re new to the saga—although you will need a lot of time to get through them all.

Length: 33 hours, 46 minutes (Book 1)

What People Are Saying: “There have been many fantasy sagas published in the last half century, but few can boast the scope, depth, and attention to detail of A Song of Fire and Ice.”—Common Sense Media

From Scratch, Tembi Locke

Travelers of all backgrounds will appreciate this romance about cross-cultural boundaries, love at first sight, family, food, and death. From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home also ends with a collection of recipes (included in text form).

Length: 10 hours, 17 minutes

What People Are Saying: “The writing in From Scratch is sublime. Locke allows her readers to revel in the sensory experiences of Sicily. She offers a peek into her deeply satisfying relationship with her daughter, her husband, and their family.”—The Associated Press

The Night Tiger, Yangsze Choo

A book-club favorite of late, The Night Tiger: A Novel follows a hardworking dressmaker whose small Malaysian village encounters a series of puzzling deaths and rumors of men who turn into tigers. It’s a dense but fantastical tale that makes it one of the best audiobooks for road trips spanning many hours.

Length: 14 hours, 8 minutes

What People Are Saying: “Choo narrates this richly complex novel herself, her gorgeous writing delivered in a voice that is deep and precise and lovely, both British and not quite. Her tone and words transport us.”—San Francisco Chronicle

Elizabeth II: Life of a Monarch, Ruth Cowen

Queen Elizabeth’s early private life and public reign still read like a blockbuster movie, whether or not you’re headed for the U.K. anytime soon. Elizabeth II: Life of a Monarch is written by British journalist Ruth Cowen and narrated by respected British royal correspondent Jennie Bond.

Length: 3 hours, 47 minutes

What People Are Saying: “Wife, mother and head of state, who is the real Elizabeth? What do the headlines hide? How close to reality are the television interpretations? … Admired by many, she has reigned through a period of unprecedented change, steering the monarchy through the end of an empire, public scandals and private losses.”—Goodreads

Before She Knew Him, Peter Swanson

A tale of paranoia and unsolved murder in a suburb of Boston,  Before She Knew Him: A Novel is a complex crime novel that will keep you guessing as to what’s reality and what’s not.

Length: 10 hours, 15 minutes

What People Are Saying: Before She Knew Him is a wicked thriller that does not disappoint. Peter Swanson has written another gem that pulls the reader in and never lets go, even as the story comes to a close. This is a book that will keep you up at night and haunt your thoughts. A fun, chilling read.”—Manhattan Book Review

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SmarterTravel Editor Shannon McMahon writes about all things travel. Follow her on Instagram at @shanmcmahon.

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2019. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

Categories
Active Travel Adventure Travel Arts & Culture Outdoors

Greater Zion: The Side of Zion That Most People Miss

Unbeknownst to many travelers, Zion National Park is part of a much larger group of communities that makes up the 2,400 square miles often referred to as the Greater Zion region. Springdale, the town closest to the national park, is just one of many areas worth a visit if you’re headed to Southern Utah.

There’s so much to discover in Greater Zion—from the national park’s hidden corners to nearby towns such as St. George and beyond, to nearby state parks, hidden artist communities, and beautiful golf courses—that a trip to the area can easily fill a week.

The Distinctive Areas of Greater Zion

During my stay in the Greater Zion area, I spent a few nights in Springdale and was able to experience a spectacular day in the national park. But it really was exploring the surrounding communities that left me wanting to return.

The region is best known by avid IRONMAN athletes and mountain bikers for its exceptional trails, competitions, and training environment. But there’s plenty to  appeal less extreme outdoor enthusiasts and adventure tourists as well.

Four main towns and areas make up the Greater Zion communities:

The town of St. George is 37 miles from the park’s entrance, and is an idea hub for exploring Greater Zion. The joke here is that everything is “20 minutes” away, and during my exploration of the region, that proved pretty much true (although the drive to the national park takes just under an hour).

St. George is home to the region’s most convenient airport, which offers nonstop flights from Dallas, Denver, Salt Lake City, and other cities. Shops, an old-time theater, and mom-and-pop restaurants dot the streets of St. George’s downtown area. You’ll also find the second outpost of the region’s first microbrewery, Zion Brewery, which is set in an old firehouse with a patio area ideal for basking in the sun.

Veyo Pies
Zion Brewery, Station II

It’s no surprise that artists and galleries have found inspiration here, and there are plenty of places to explore local art. Make time for a visit to the local artist community of Kayenta, where you’ll find dozens of galleries, a day spa, a labyrinth garden, and a garden cafe. The area is also home to a red-rock amphitheater, Tuacahn, which hosts family-friendly musicals and bands, including well-known Disney productions. 

National and State Parks

When you’re at Zion National Park, you’ll likely encounter lines of tourists waiting to board the park’s shuttle busses along the main canyon road, and you’ll be lucky to get a parking spot. As the fourth-most-visited national park in the country, Zion sees more than its fair share of tourists.  But there’s a lot more to see: I recommend also exploring the Kolob Canyons and Kolob Terrace areas (note that some permits are required for Wilderness-designated land). Check out the Timber Creek Overlook Trail and the North Fork or South Fork of Taylor Creek trails in the canyon area. In the Kolob plateaus, you’ll find fewer tourists at Hop Valley Trail, Grapevine Trail, and Northgate Peaks Trail.

Furthermore, don’t discount the region’s four state parks: Snow Canyon (which really could be a national park), Quail Creek (home to a massive reservoir for boating), Gunlock (if you get lucky, you’ll experience rare waterfall features – they only happen about once every 10 years), and Sand Hollow (one of the best spots for ATVing).

Getting Outside the National Park

When you’re ready to leave St. George, most attractions are just, you guessed it, a 20-minute drive away. Whether it’s playing a round at one of the area’s 13 golf courses, tasting a Mountain Berry pie from Veyo Pies (trust me on this one, and send me an email if you go), mountain biking on Gooseberry Mesa, hiking through other-worldly Snow Canyon State Park, or canyoneering relatively unexplored BLM land (hit up Paragon Adventures for a unique experience), there’s plenty to do in the area beyond the boundaries of the national park.

Where to Stay in Greater Zion

The newly opened The Advenire, an Autograph Collection Hotel, has impeccably decorated rooms, a rooftop hot tub and lounge, as well as a fantastic on-site restaurant and bar, Wood. Ash. Rye. It’s centrally located right in downtown St. George.

If you’re looking for a boutique-like experience in Springdale, the Cliffrose Springdale, Curio Collection by Hilton, is just steps away from the Zion’s entrance as well as the Virgin River. It’s newly renovated and has plenty of outdoor hangout areas along the riverbank perfect for families and groups of friends to enjoy.

For a health and wellness experience in the Greater Zion area, book a package at Red Mountain Resort in the community of Ivins, just outside of St. George. Located next to Snow Canyon, you’ll get plenty of time to hike, and lounge by the pool or at the spa.

If you’re after a more immersive experience, the area has two glamping sites in addition to the national and state park’s camping areas. The first is Under Canvas Zion, which is located close to the Kolob entrance of the park. The second nearby site, Wildflower, is currently under development and set to open soon. 

There are plenty of budget-friendly and hotel chain options scattered throughout the region if you’re looking for affordable accommodations outside of camping.

Welcome to Virtual Vacations, our series of meditative audio travel tours of both popular and off-the-beaten-path destinations around the world.

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Ashley Rossi is always ready for her next trip. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram for travel tips, destination ideas, and off the beaten path spots.

Categories
Arts & Culture Beach Booking Strategy Health & Wellness LGBT

The 8 Best LGBTQ-Friendly All-Inclusive Resorts

The most relaxing vacations leave all worries behind, even if it’s just for a few days. That’s where all-inclusive resorts come in, inviting guests to dine, swim, lounge, and sip fruity cocktails sans hassles. For LGBTQ travelers, there’s an added factor of enjoying a breezy vacay in comfort, from a setting that inspires all aspirational beach bums to unwind and be themselves.

All-Inclusive Gay-Friendly Resorts Around the World

While plenty of resorts welcome diverse travelers, some really roll out the rainbow carpets—whether they’re part of a gay-friendly brand; home an out-and-proud LGBTQ staff; or part of a fabulous destination. Here are some of the top all-inclusive resorts for gay couples (and gay singles).

Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Hyatt is among the large hotel chains that’s shown continuous support for LGBTQ travelers. The brand is a Gold Global Partner of the International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA), and has been honored for more than a decade as one of the HRC’s annually ranked Best Places to Work for LGBTQ Equality. One of the best all-inclusive resorts for gay couples is the Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta. For starters, the Pacific-Coast city is a hotspot for gay vacationers who love the nightlife and its annual mid-May Vallarta Pride festival. The Hyatt Ziva Puerto Vallarta lures travelers to lodge a few miles south of town, where they can enjoy swim-up suites, live entertainment, fitness and sports programs, and dining with oceanfront views.

Banyan Tree Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen, Mexico

For an extra-dreamy luxury escape, LGBTQ travelers can wing down to the sunny Yucatan peninsula, where Banyan Tree Riviera Maya awaits with private waterfront villas. More than average resorts, Banyan Tree elevates all-inclusive experiences with refined amenities, restaurants, and spa time, always evoking the brand’s Southeast-Asian heritage. But the resort’s respect for nature and local culture sets it apart, as does its pride in serving LGBTQ guests. Here gay couples can spend time in their villa’s private pool, cruising through the property’s mangrove forests, biking to the beach, or melting into an open-air couples’ massage.

Grand Palladium White Island Resort and Spa, Ibiza, Spain

As one of the world’s most vibrant gay destinations, Ibiza is a favorite for continental travelers—especially if they’re looking for a party. This Mediterranean island off the eastern coast of Spain is bursting with posh hotels and resorts. But for LGBTQ travelers seeking all-inclusive, beachfront luxury on a grand scale, the Grand Palladium White Island Resort and Spa is a suave choice. Along with Grand Palladium’s trademark contemporary design and range of on-site restaurants and entertainment, gay and lesbian guests can enjoy amenities like the Zentropia Spa & Wellness and its fully equipped gym, several pools and Jacuzzis, sports facilities, and direct beach access.

Walt Disney World Resorts, Orlando

Disney Destinations is a longtime global partner of the IGLTA, so LGBTQ travelers can feel good about checking into Disney all-inclusive resorts, especially sprawling Disney World in Orlando. The park is welcoming all year-round, and it hosts special Pride Month events like Gay Days, held the first weekend in June. Come for the special-edition rainbow Mickey Mouse ears, stay for resort perks like Disney Dining plans, complimentary transportation, “Magical Extras” for entertainment and recreation, and other customizable packages.

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

If the rock-star life is calling, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Punta Cana wants you to turn it up. Of all the brand’s LGBTQ-friendly all-inclusive resorts, this Dominican Republic property amps up the on-site amenities with 13 pools (with swim-up bars and water slides), nine restaurants, five bars, Oro Nightclub, a salon, a Nicklaus-designed golf course, a huge casino, and live concerts. Parents let their kids find harmony at the Kidz Bop experience, especially while tuning their own vibes to resort’s Sound Body spa, meditation, and musical fitness programs. The Hard Rock’s trademark amenities are all here, inviting guests to get expert instruction and accelerated stage training at the Music Lab, or to check out a guitar to shred on their own.

Kahala Hotel & Resort, Honolulu, Hawaii

Ah, Hawaii, a wonderfully welcoming destination for any traveler. And though gay-friendly resorts are a breeze to find across the Hawaiian Islands, head to the Kahala Hotel & Resort for sunny accommodations on Honolulu’s east side. Since 1964, the Kahala’s prime spot along a stretch of white-sandy beach has lured celebrities, royalty, and international guests. The resort today offers packages with spa treatments, oceanfront yoga programs, wine tastings, and dining at its four restaurants. While the Kahala neighborhood is a tranquil spot for getaways, the hotel is just a short drive (or free shuttle) from Waikiki’s LGBTQ scene—which hosts Oahu Pride each October. Hot tip: Book a Dolphin Lanai room to overlook the Kahala’s famous dolphin and sea-turtle lagoon.

Warwick Paradise Island, Bahamas

The Bahamas are rich with all-inclusive resort options, but at the Warwick Paradise Island, LGBTQ travelers can enjoy lodging in the company of adults only. The 250-room resort is more modest than the giant Atlantis and other island lodging, giving guests a bit more serenity whether lounging poolside, relaxing with an Amber Spa treatment, or sunbathing on the resort’s private white-sandy beach. Guestrooms are spacious and sleek, many of them have private balconies and water views. At the property’s five restaurants you can go casual or sophisticated, then grab a cocktail for nightly live entertainment.

W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Dive into the local pura vida spirit at sleek, oceanfront W Costa Rica Reserva Conchal. The W is part of Marriott International, a brand that’s long welcomed LGBTQ guests to its 6,000-plus properties and is an IGLTA Platinum Global Partner. At this oceanfront resort, located about 30 minutes from the Tamarindo Airport, vacationers can take in lush landscapes, white sands, and panoramic views. All-inclusive packages make relaxing easier, whether poolside on the WET Deck, at the Zona Azul beach club, or at the resort’s restaurants, each designed to channel Costa Rica’s local culture. The AWAY Spa offers treatments for couples and singles, a nice way to unwind after activities like bike rides, snorkeling, kayaking, surfing, or nature hikes.

What to Wear to an All-Inclusive Resort

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Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2018. It has been updated to reflect the most current information. Jamie Ditaranto contributed to this story.

Categories
Adventure Travel Arts & Culture Booking Strategy Cities Island Outdoors

The Best Travel Destinations for Your Myers-Briggs Personality Type

Editor’s note: Travel to some countries mentioned in this story have been affected by COVID-19. Check the websites of the CDC and the U.S. State Department before your trip for current recommendations about the safety of travel to your intended destination.

Spin a globe, point your finger, and see where it lands—if only planning a trip were that easy. For those who prefer to take a more rational approach when arranging travel, look to your Myers-Briggs personality type.

The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) is a behavioral assessment that calculates how people perceive the world and make decisions. Based on the theories of Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, the test determines your four-letter personality archetype based on the following main factors:

  • Extroversion (E) vs. Introversion (I): Do you draw energy from your surroundings (outgoing) or from within (reserved)?
  • Sensing (S) vs. Intuition (N): Do you process new information through concrete facts or by reading between the lines?
  • Thinking (T) or Feeling (F): When making decisions, are you more likely to prioritize logic and objective criteria or personal values and others’ feelings?
  • Judging (J) or Perceiving (P): Do you approach life in a systematic, schedule-oriented way or prefer more flexibility and open-endedness?

Not sure of your Myers-Briggs personality type? You can read about the various types here.

For each of the 16 total Myers-Briggs types, we’ve recommended destinations around the world that best complement your personality and comfort zone. Find out in which direction your internal compass points you for your next trip below.

ENFJ: Sao Miguel Island, Azores

hydrangeas coastal path Sao Miguel, Azores Islands.

Go on vacation with an ENFJ, and they’ll frantically ensure that you’re happy and living your best life. These people pleasers strive to cultivate a sense of community wherever they go, which is why the Azores’ largest and most lively island is the perfect spot for their next getaway. With diverse attractions and easy accessibility (you can drive from one end of the island to the other in less than two hours), the ENFJ will be in their element, organizing activities galore.

Where to stay: Because planning can be exhausting, we suggest seeking respite in the wellness-inspired Furnas Boutique Hotel.

ISTP: Rwanda

Solo travel can be food for any type’s soul, but perhaps no one “owns” that style quite like the ISTP. Often described as an adventurous loner, this type gravitates toward the road less traveled, and the Central African country of Rwanda is a perfect example. Any visit to Rwanda’s dense forests will reward the ISTP with a renewed sense of peace, while local interactions will leave them feeling humbled and with an enriched perspective on the world, something they’re always seeking.

Where to stay: The journey continues at the Bisate Lodge, where the ISTP can become one with nature in an environmentally friendly hut nestled in the mountains.

ISFJ: Santa Fe, New Mexico

“The City Different” is an ideal trip for these unique social introverts who can adapt to their surroundings arguably more than any other type. With its communal atmosphere and colorful melding of Mexican, Native American, and Spanish cultures, the oldest capital city in North America will satiate ISFJs’ love of history and tradition while fostering personal connections along the way.

Where to stay: Bunk up at the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi, a traditionally designed hotel only steps from Santa Fe’s historic Plaza.

ENFP: Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia

Routines don’t sit well with the ENFP, a type with an aching desire for anything out of the ordinary. Behold: the Republic of Georgia. Nestled at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, the underrated city of Tbilisi is a hub of food, wine, history, and adventure. These amiable free spirits will have plenty of options to bounce around, based on whatever feels right in the moment, and they’re sure to make friends along the way.

Where to stay: ENFPs will swoon over the Stamba Hotel, a former printing house with a storied past and a hip, social vibe that will quench the ENFP’s thirst for creativity and personal connections.

INTP: Hydra, Greece

Channeling one of history’s great INTPs, Socrates, this philosophical type was born to explore the deeper meaning of life. The small, slow-paced Greek island of Hydra offers a welcome invitation for INTPs to unravel details of some of humanity’s earliest civilizations and see the world in a new way, while savoring all the alone time they need.

Where to stay: The historic Bratsera Hotel is more than a place for INTPs to rest their heads; with a fascinating history, this converted sponge factory is an experience all its own.

ESFJ: Siem Reap, Cambodia

Siem Reap continues to rise in the ranks as a top travel destination, with any mention usually complemented by a glossy image of the famed ancient temple of Angkor Wat. While ESFJs will be highly attuned to the country’s history, these altruistic social butterflies also will love the city’s trendy downtown peppered with colorful boutiques and culturally rich restaurants.

Where to stay: Plan early so you can snag one of three rooms at Hotel Be Angkor, each of which features the work of a local artist.

ISFP: Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Living in the moment is an ISFP’s mantra. Pair that with their emotionally driven spirit, and we can’t think of a better place to go with the flow than Mostar. This small city is an inspiring representation of the country’s perseverance—a story that will pull at the ISFP’s heartstrings as they stroll through its intimate cobblestone streets. When the need to recharge strikes, retreat to the banks of the Neretva River and marvel at Mostar’s iconic Stari Most bridge.

Where to stay: The cozy, traditionally designed Hotel-Restaurant Kriva Cuprija offers picturesque views.

ESTJ: Bhutan

When it comes to planning a trip, ESTJs are more likely to save up for one big, bucket-list adventure than take a few spontaneous vacations throughout the year. This logical approach is bound to lead them to places of which people only dream—and next year or the following (because we know this year is already planned), we set the ESTJ’s sights on Bhutan. Tucked away in the Himalayas, the small kingdom will invigorate this high-energy type with its friendly locals, vibrant culture, and breathtaking mountain landscapes.

Where to stay: The Dhensa Boutique Resort’s prominent location near several hiking trails means the ESTJ will never get bored.

INFP: Tunisia

Daydreaming is the INFP’s pastime, but when traveling, this empathetic type prefers places with which they can emotionally connect while simultaneously feeding their curiosity. Tunisia’s capital city of Tunis and its suburbs are a conglomerate of cultures, historic landmarks, and streets made for getting lost. Soak up the sights and sounds of the Medina, revel in the white and blue buildings of Sidi Bou Said, and discover centuries past at the ancient ruins of Carthage.

Where to stay: All the areas listed above are within proximity of Tunis, so we suggest using the city center as a starting point, with the Dar El Jeld Hotel and Spa as your home base.

ESFP: Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Where there’s a spotlight, there’s an ESFP. Old San Juan’s cobblestone streets lined with pastel-colored, Spanish colonial buildings set the stage for these natural entertainers, who enjoy surrounding themselves with people in fun-filled environments. That’s exactly what you’ll find in Puerto Rico’s capital: bustling locales and musical block parties that beckon everyone to have a good time—all within few steps of fresh local cuisine.

Where to stay: To balance out the party scene, stay at the Gallery Inn, where 300-year-old buildings and sea breezes make for a relaxing escape in the heart of downtown.

INTJ: Telluride, Colorado

Unlike ESFPs on the opposite end of the spectrum, INTJs make it a point to avoid the spotlight. Their ideal vacation involves a lot of time dedicated to introspection, and Colorado’s postcard-perfect town of Telluride—isolated by its surrounding cliffs and forested mountains—affords ample opportunities to do so. Hike amid alpine lakes and wildflowers in the summer, bike through fall foliage in September and October, or take advantage of world-class skiing without the crowds and over-commercialization during the long winters.

Where to stay: Downtown Telluride’s charming Hotel Columbia is only steps from the gondola, the United States’ first and only free public transportation service of its kind.

ESTP: Tasmania, Australia

From hiking seemingly untouched mountains to whitewater rafting in the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Franklin River, Tasmania’s diverse terrain affords myriad thrills for this risk-taking type. When you’re not relishing the rugged, protected lands that comprise most of the island, embark on an urban adventure through Tasmania’s quaint capital city of Hobart.

Where to stay: Pamper yourself in between treks at Hobart’s historic Islington Hotel.

ISTJ: Kyoto, Japan

If anyone lives by the book, it’s the ISTJ—which is why they thrive in the peaceful, orderly environment of Kyoto, Japan. The ancient city is replete with temples, museums, and shrines that pique the ISTJ’s intellectual senses as they pace through their spreadsheet of activities.

Where to stay: At Villa Sanjo Muromachi Kyoto, a local, Kyoto-based publisher offers highly organized concierge services with “travel solutions” geared toward individual interests.

ENTP: Guyana

Driven by a desire to challenge the standard, ENTPs continuously seek new experiences, using logic over their emotions to make decisions, including when it comes to travel. A logical reason for the ENTP to visit Guyana now is that its natural beauty remains unspoiled, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a chain store in any of its cities or towns. In South America’s only English-speaking country, you can trek to Kaieteur Falls, the largest single-drop waterfall in the world, and taste your way through history during a rum distillery tour.

Where to stay: Find your home away from home at the Cara Lodge, one of the oldest buildings in the capital city of Georgetown.

INFJ: Alacati, Turkey

To an outsider, the INFJ might appear quiet and reserved; in reality, they love connecting with others and sharing their advice and wisdom, as long as the setting is right. This setting conjures up visions of Alacati, a Turkish fishing village where alfresco cafes on bougainvillea-canopied cobblestone streets inspire deep conversation, and quiet moments allow you to hear the breeze roll off the Aegean Sea, carrying with it the scents of lemon, thyme, and other herbs.

Where to stay: Alacati’s intimacy continues at Alavya, where lovingly restored stone buildings are surrounded by private gardens and courtyards.

ENTJ: Jerusalem, Israel

Every group of travelers needs an ENTJ—someone to take charge and put activities into motion. When it comes to vacation planning, these natural-born leaders set the bar higher than any other type. Jerusalem’s historically significant archeological sites could fill a week-long itinerary, so a trip to this city requires strategic organization; this way, you get to enjoy a little bit of everything.

Where to stay: Plant yourself at the Alegra Boutique Hotel, and explore hidden gems in the heart of Jerusalem’s tranquil Ein Karem neighborhood.

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