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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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At Home Entertainment Health & Wellness Outdoors

Forest Bathing Audio Experience

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

Don’t have Spotify? Find Virtual Vacations on your preferred listening platform here.

Let’s head into nature for a guided virtual forest bathing experience. Traditional forest bathing strengthens your relationship to nature by connecting you via your five senses.

We’ve created these audio tours to transport you to inspiring destinations around the world, even when you can’t be there in person. So settle in and let’s imagine a peaceful walk through a beautiful forest. Along the way, we’ll practice some traditional forest-bathing techniques to help you relax and connect with the outdoors.

Note that each virtual vacation begins with a short breathing exercise to help you come into the moment and make the most of your virtual vacation.

Discover more Virtual Vacations.

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Entertainment

Fun Travel Quizzes

Trivia Quizzes

Are you a travel expert? Take these trivia quizzes and find out.

Personality Quizzes

No right answers here—just fun ways to learn about different aspects of your travel personality.

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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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Entertainment

The Best Amazon Magazine Subscriptions for Any Type of Traveler

In need of a cheap distraction that doesn’t involve looking at a screen? Amazon’s magazine subscription service is here to save the day. With one click, you can deliver a favorite magazine right to your door—or to a friend as a thoughtful pick-me-up. These Amazon magazine subscriptions cost as little as $5 for an entire year and will give you cooking ideas, travel inspiration for later, and a few moments of escapism.

Travel Magazines

Afar magazine.

Food Magazines

Bon appetit

Magazines for Kids

Highlights magazine.

Long Reads

The atlantic magazine.

Fitness Magazines

Bicycling magazine.

[st_related]10 Secret Amazon Prime Perks You Probably Aren’t Using[/st_related]

Outdoor Magazines

Fashion Magazines

Elle magazine.

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Caroline Morse Teel is a Senior Editor at SmarterTravel. Follow her on Instagram @travelwithcaroline.

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

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At Home Entertainment Fashion & Beauty Food & Drink

12 Products to Keep You Sane While Stuck at Home

Welp, times are weird, but you don’t need to hear that again. Nonetheless, welcome back to Elevated: Travel Style for the Modern Man—I hope you’re feeling well and staying safe out there while stuck at home. If you’ve been as bored as I’ve been these past few weeks, I’m happy to know I’m not alone. I’ve counted the tiles in my bathroom three times since March 6, you know, just to be extra sure. (There are 27.)

Aside from math, I’ve been experimenting with cooking styles, improving my home, and discovering new ways to revamp my old lifestyle. I figure being stuck at home this long is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so if I can take advantage of it, I’m going full throttle. These are the comforting items getting me through this uncomfortable period of time.

NakedWines

At the beginning of whatever the hell is going on, I had this huge fear that my local liquor store would close. Although she’s still wide open, I panicked and accidentally bought a case of wine on NakedWines—and by accidentally I mean it was fully intentional. Upon skimming the site, I noticed members were even offered some serious discounts, so of course I signed up. I decided to go with a selection of New World White Wonders to let myself pretend I’m traveling again. Each bottle is individually listed in all of the site’s curated packages, but I chose to turn a blind eye and let myself be surprised. I’ve loved every selection so far.

Allbirds Wool Loungers

These Wool Loungers are really the only pair of shoes I’ve been wearing for a month straight, and I refuse to apologize for it. I’m all about an easy slip-on design even when I’m not feeling like a lazy sack, but these are great for both long walks (accompanied by face masks and gloves) to the supermarket and short walks to throw out the trash.

GoWISE USA Air Fryer

After being bombarded with food photo after food photo in my group chat, I discovered how popular air fryers are amongst my friends, only to find out they’re just super popular in general. Have I been living under a rock? No. But have I been bored living off canned soup and mac and cheese for the past month under self-quarantine? Absolutely. After completing my first air fry, which was homemade garlic parmesan green bean fries, I was shaken to my core that I hadn’t bought one of these sooner. I’ve now ditched the cooking oil entirely and started throwing everything in the air fryer, making homemade chicken cutlets, fried eggplant, and potato chips. It cuts cooking time in half, creates a dramatically healthier meal, and is easy to use. You just pop whatever in, walk away, and it’s done. I’m obsessed.

Weighted Gravity Blanket

If the weight of the world is feeling like a bit too much right now, I suggest adding a few pounds. This weighted blanket from Gravity is seriously getting me through it, simulating the feeling of being hugged—which is something we definitely all need right now. Swaddling your bod and reviving key pressure points helps produce a deeper, more peaceful sleep, so this blanky is totally worth it.

Trade Coffee

Although I’ve really been into that fluffy coffee drink everyone’s been raving about (you know, the one where you vigorously mix water, sugar, and instant coffee), during my time at home I’ve stumbled across Trade Coffee and I’ve been having a ton of fun with it. The brand helps you discover your favorite brew by mailing different blends directly to your door. With almost 400 distinct tastes on offer, the possibilities are endless.

Harry’s Razor

I find grooming very important during this time, but I recently shaved my beard and now I regret it. Normally I’ll use my Harry’s razor for shaving my head and cleaning up my beard, not to fully embody a Cabbage Patch version of Rosie O’Donnell—but that’s fine, we all make mistakes. As I wait for my peach fuzz to grow back, I’ll be anticipating my next clean-up with this bad boy.

Marshall Bluetooth Wireless Headphones

While I’m on the job, I always need to be listening to something. It helps me concentrate and get into a steady workflow. When I first started working from home, I’d catch up on all my news using my TV, but began to feel a little bad for my sleeping roommates. These Marshall headphones are an awesome alternative; I’m still getting my news, hitting up some favorite podcasts, and checking out some new albums. My favorite part: I can leave my work station and head anywhere in my apartment to snag a bite to eat or clean a couple of dishes thanks to the wireless Bluetooth connection.

Boy Smells Ash Scented Candle

I’ve been burning my Boy Smells candle for a few months now, and at this point it’s time for a new one. There are tons of subtleties packed into these. They will easily fill a room with a delicious, non-overwhelming scent. I’ve dabbled in a few other scents, but at the moment I’m ready to find out what this ash scent will bring.

LARQ Self-Cleaning Water Bottle

One thing I have to pay more attention to is drinking water. No, seriously, the majority of the liquids entering my body lately have come in the form of coffee and alcohol. I got this self-cleaning water bottle to combat my lack of hydration, and it’s so cool, using non-toxic UV-C LED technology to eliminate bacteria and other viruses. Now that I have this, I’m about to throw my Brita in the trash.

Giant Checkers Reversible Rug

I am a savage when it comes to checkers. I will fight to the death and quadruple-jump with no hesitation just so I can have the bragging rights—it is semi-problematic. With that being said, after painting a checkerboard on my coffee table with my roommate, I decided to go ahead and purchase a board we can play on our roof when we want to get some fresh air. I’m really excited about the future of this board since it’s made of a rug-like material, easily packable for beach trips and hikes.

Cardon 3-in-1 Men’s Hydro Boost Gel Moisturizer

If I’m gaining weight during this quarantine, I might as well focus on making my face look good. I’ve been pretty dry now that I shaved my beard, so Cardon’s Boost Gel Moisturizer has been a game-changing lightweight nighttime application I’ve been using for the past couple of weeks. I barely realize it’s on my face since it’s not as goopy and viscous as moisturizers I’ve tried in the past, and when I wake up after a night of use, I can really notice a difference in the way my skin looks and feels.

The Essential Spices Collection

As mentioned, I’ve been cooking a lot of new recipes lately. Whether I’m creating a disaster or a masterpiece, my lack of flavor was really showing in my first couple of meals. Turns out salt and pepper don’t always do the job, folks. I thought $99 for all these high-grade spices was a deal I could get behind. Everything I’m making now is so much more flavorful than it was previously, so I’m 100 percent purchasing from these guys again. *chef’s kiss*

Tyler's Fashion Picks for April 2020

For info on these editor-selected items, click to visit the seller’s site. Things you buy may earn us a commission.


When it comes to fashion, I’m not dressing to impress anyone. I’ve been in my living room since March. Maybe I’ll put on a button-down every once in a while for a Zoom happy hour, but aside from that, it’s comfy tees and breathable boxer briefs almost 24/7. A staple of my look is a large plush couch throw wrapped around me from head to toe, with a cool mug escaping the front of the blanket as if I’m begging for more hot coffee (which I am). Lastly, socks are a must in my apartment because no matter how much I vacuum, there always seem to be crumbs on the floor.

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Tyler Schoeber is a production specialist, photographer, occasional writer, travel style guru, and general Renaissance man at SmarterTravel. Follow his adventures on Instagram at @tylerschoeber.

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Arts & Culture Entertainment

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.

Our Favorite Items for the Home

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Follow Sarah Schlichter on Twitter @TravelEditor for more travel tips and inspiration.

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Arts & Culture Entertainment Experiential Travel In-Flight Experience Travel Technology Travel Trends

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

For info on these editor-selected items, click to visit the seller’s site. Things you buy may earn us a commission.

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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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Entertainment

11 Books We’re Reading to Inspire Ourselves and Our Future Travels

While many of us around the world are practicing social distancing, we’re finding more time on our hands and fewer things to do as the constant busyness of the everyday seems farther and farther away. Do yourself a favor and learn, instead of fear, during this time. Here are 11 books that we’re reading right now to help refocus and keep our travel inspiration alive.

How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, Jenny Odell 

There’s never been a better time to read How to Do Nothing because in a way that’s exactly what the world is begging us to do right now: nothing. Available on Kindle, Odell’s field guide on how to repurpose your thinking, attention, and motivational forces makes you rethink not only your day-to-day but also your intentions, like where and why you travel. —Ashley Rossi, Senior Editor

Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Truman Capote

I’m a huge Audrey Hepburn fan, and Holly Golightly is one of my favorite fictitious characters of all time. That’s why I finally want to read the book that inspired one of my most-watched movies, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I’m hoping the book will transport me to an unparalleled era of New York City glamour and that Holly’s nonchalant but still caring disregard for the future will rub off on me. —Ashley

The Island of Sea Women, Lisa See

the island of sea women by lisa see book cover.

I had never heard of the all-female divers of Jeju Island, South Korea, before reading this book, but I found their story fascinating. The Island of Sea Women follows two divers from girlhood into old age, through war and a changing culture that sees their specialized skills become less and less relevant in a modern world. I learned a lot reading this book and would love to visit Jeju Island someday to see the landscapes See describes so vividly. —Sarah Schlichter, Deputy Executive Editor

A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles

a gentleman in moscow by amor towles book cover.

We all may be stuck in our homes for a few weeks or months during the COVID-19 outbreak, but Count Alexander Rostov, the main character in this delightful novel, is stuck in Moscow’s luxe Metropol Hotel for decades. His sense of humor and the way he makes the best of his situation offer plenty of lessons for those of us chafing at our own confinement. —Sarah

The Magic Misfits, Neil Patrick Harris

Shout out to all those parents looking for fun read-alouds with kids, and to grandparents and other family members who valiantly show up on FaceTime to read to kids so their parents can get to working from home. In that spirit comes this recommendation for Neil Patrick Harris’ hugely fun and readable Magic Misfits four-parter. (Did you know Harris is a magic nerd? I didn’t until I started in on the series with my six- and eight-year-olds.) It’s silly, it’s exciting, and you and your read-aloud partners will learn some sleight of hand along the way. —Christine Sarkis, Executive Editor

War in Val d’Orcia: An Italian War Diary, 1943-1944, Iris Origo

Iris Origo’s World War II diaries (which she wrote and hid nightly, and only published years later) are a riveting story of perseverance and resilience. Set in Tuscany’s Val D’Orcia, the diary tells of Origo’s house being commandeered by enemy troops even as the family and tenant farmers helped partisans and evacuees and sheltered and educated local orphans. I first read the book before visiting La Foce, Origo’s home, which now offers garden tours, but have returned to it again and again. (British celeb gardener Monty Don did a spotlight on the garden; scroll down to the video to watch the clip.) —Christine

The Windfall, Diksha Basu

The Windfall by Diksha Basu

The Windfall is a simultaneously funny and frustrating novel about one Indian family’s sudden new-money status, which brings luxuries and insecurities both at home and abroad. As their son heads to school in the United States and they move to a new neighborhood in India, the family learns the hard way about the societal and personal expectations that come with money (and a lack thereof), as well as age, gender roles, love, and tradition in a globalizing world. —Shannon McMahon, Editor

Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion, Jia Tolentino

Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino

Recommended to me by not one but two friends now, Trick Mirror is a book of essays on different topics that all ultimately thread together, from this decade’s politics to psychology, for their ability to wrap our own unique realities. I’m picking it up because it’s earned a deluge of recognition including a spot on the New York Public Library’s list of the Top 10 Books of the Year. —Shannon

Red, White & Royal Blue, Casey McQuiston

On the hunt for a fun, frothy read? Red, White & Royal Blue is a same-sex rom-com whose main characters—the Prince of Wales and First Son of the United States—wheel between D.C., London, Paris, New York City, L.A., and Texas. Royal obsessives will have fun picking out the Meghan Markle and Prince Harry similarities. But this is hardly a courtly romance—internet slang, gifs, group chats, and Jezebel abound. If you’re looking for a good ol’ distraction from the news, RW&RB offers plenty of racy fun. —Anne Bauso, Editor, What to Pack

The Floating Feldmans, Elyssa Friedland

A playful and atmospheric romp, The Floating Feldmans follows one dysfunctional family as they attempt to take a cruise together—and fail in all kinds of hilarious ways. Author Elyssa Friedland, an astute observer of human nature, makes the Feldmans sweet and loveable while still constantly rocking the boat. Funny and quickly paced, this is the perfect novel for those who want to ignore the news and sail away into a pure beach read. —Maria Hart, Executive Editor, What to Pack

Circling The Sun, Paula McLain

Lose yourself in Beryl Markham’s life—Circling The Sun is based on the true story of the daring aviator who became the first person to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west. The majority of the book takes place in Nairobi, where Markham grew up and trained to become one of the first bush pilots. Encounters with lions and wild horses will make you feel like you’re along for the adventure. —Caroline Morse Teel, Principal Editor

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Arts & Culture Entertainment

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.

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Active Travel Budget Travel Entertainment Health & Wellness

The 7 Best Free Streaming Workouts

Going stir-crazy? Release pent-up energy without leaving the house with these free online workouts.

Peloton

You don’t need a bike to utilize Peloton’s app. The fitness company offers live and on-demand streaming classes in strength training, running, cycling, yoga, meditation, walking, cardio, and more—and it’s currently offering a free 90-day trial to new members.

No equipment beyond a mat is necessary for most classes, but some of the strength training workouts require a set of weights or resistance bands.

Planet Fitness

Planet Fitness is now offering a daily online workout class that’s free for everyone (no gym membership required). These workouts will be streamed on Facebook Live every night at 7pm ET, and also saved for later viewing.

The classes will be 20 minutes or less, and might even feature a celebrity guest or two.

Core Power

With Core Power studios closed temporarily, the company is giving everyone (including non-members) free access to a collection of online classes. New classes will be added every week, and include a variety of practices.

A yoga mat is all you’ll need for most classes, but there are options for those who have weights and blocks as well. 

Daily Burn

Participate in group workouts or one-on-one training on your own schedule with Daily Burn’s wide variety of classes. Sign up and take a quick quiz, and Daily Burn will customize a program for you (including which workouts to do and nutrition plans to follow), or you can choose from the library of classes yourself.

Classes are available for all levels and include strength training, Pilates, cardio kickboxing, stretching, and more. Click here to sign up for a 30-day free trial.

Some classes can be done equipment-free, while others require an aerobic step, kettlebell, medicine ball, pilates ring, plyo box, yoga block, yoga mat, or dumbbells.

Barre3

Sign up for Barre3’s free 15-day trial and you’ll get unlimited access to hundreds of streaming workouts. These full-body workouts can be done without any equipment, but props such as a core ball, core sliders, and a resistance band are recommended.

Yoga With Adriene

Yoga instructor Adriene Mishler has a cult-like following, with over six million subscribers to her YouTube channel. Here, you’ll find tons of free videos to stream. Classes are easily sorted by length or goal (such as weight loss or to relieve back pain) and can be done with just a yoga mat.

Want more? Yoga With Adriene’s Find What Feels Good Membership offers classes without ads, plus monthly membership vlogs from Adriene—and you can get a 7-day free trial here.

The Dailey Method

The Dailey Method, a barre/core conditioning type workout, is currently giving away free 14-day trials to access its extensive library of online classes. Modifications are available to do the exercises without any equipment, although balls and resistance bands are recommended.

Women's Home Workout Outfit

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Entertainment

6 Ways to Feel Like You’re on Vacation at Home

You don’t have to leave the country or even the state to feel as relaxed and stress-free as you do while traveling. From recreating a beach getaway to getting that cozy cabin feeling, these six tricks will make you feel like you’re on vacation at home.

Pretend You’re On the Beach

Opulence nebulizing diffuser

Even if you can’t make it to the beach, you can still bring the beach to you, with a few key accessories to make your home feel like a tropical paradise.

A light therapy lamp can help you pretend you’re basking in the sunlight (but without those nasty UV-rays). These lights can help lift your mood and even sleep better, especially during those long dark winter days.

Infuse your house with a tropical-scented aromatherapy oil. The sense of smell is closely linked to memory, so inhaling a beachy fragrance can help you recall relaxing vacations past. The Opulence Essential Oil Diffuser is a waterless diffuser that will spread fragrance throughout your house without diluting the scent. Unlike many of the cheap diffusers on the market, this one is made without plastic—just a ceramic base and a glass reservoir.

Turn Your House into a Cozy Cabin

Brooklyn bedding

Rather pretend you’re away at a cozy cabin this winter? It’s easy to feel like you’re on a winter vacation at home with a few hygge-inspired items. This heated blanket will instantly turn your couch into a warm cocoon that you don’t want to leave. Make your bed into a holiday-like nest by upgrading your linens to Brooklyn Bedding’s Tencel Sateen Sheets, which are made from a super-soft TENCEL Lyocell fiber blend. These sheets absorb moisture quickly, so you’ll stay comfortable no matter how many blankets you pile on top. Top it off with a Pluto Pillow, a revolutionary pillow that is personalized to your preferences and assembled by hand to give you the most comfortable spot to rest your head.

Upgrade your morning routine to feel more like a vacation with a programmable coffee maker. It can’t bring you coffee in bed, but it can wake you up with a freshly brewed cup.

[st_related]8 Ways to Live Hygge While Traveling[/st_related]

Make Your House Feel Like a Spa

Coleman spa

Bring the spa home to you with Coleman’s inflatable four-person hot tub, which sets up quickly and heats up to 104 degrees while 60 air jets surround you in soothing bubbles. Rather just run a bath? A good bath pillow, tray, salts, and candle will elevate the experience into vacation-like luxury.

Set Yourself Up for Better Sleep

Alen air breathesmart 75i

A good night’s sleep can help you feel like you’re on vacation every day. The Alen BreatheSmart HEPA air purifiers have been scientifically proven to improve sleep, as it cleans the air of mold, odors, and allergens, allowing users to breathe better and sleep more deeply.

AcousticSheep SleepPhones can help light sleepers make it through the night uninterrupted, by playing white noise through a comfortable headband you can sleep on.

A good pair of blackout blinds will recreate that totally dark hotel room feel, letting you sleep in past sunrise on your staycation.

Completely Disconnect

Kindle oasis

If your favorite part about vacation is being unreachable, recreate it at home. Turn off your Wi-Fi, put your phone on airplane mode, and enjoy being off the internet. Put down your phone and pick up a book. The new Kindle Oasis is designed to be feel just like reading a real book, thanks to an adjustable warm light setting, page turn buttons, and e-ink technology.

[st_related]The 10 Most Anticipated Books of 2020[/st_related]

Automate Your Cleaning

Robot vaccum

One of the best parts of staying at a hotel is having someone else do all the cleaning on a daily basis, but you can get (some of) the same effect at home without hiring a cleaner. A robot vacuum can keep your floors perfectly swept without you having to lift a finger, and some models even offer mopping features as well.

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Caroline Morse Teel is a Principal Editor at SmarterTravel. Follow her on Instagram @travelwithcaroline.

Some review products are sent to us free of charge and with no incentive to offer a favorable review. We offer our unbiased opinions, positive and negative, and will never accept compensation to review a product.

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Active Travel Adventure Travel Arts & Culture Beach Booking Strategy Budget Travel Cities Entertainment Experiential Travel Family Travel Food & Drink Group Travel Historical Travel Island LGBT Luxury Travel Outdoors Romantic Travel Senior Travel Solo Travel Student Travel Sustainable Travel Theme Park Weekend Getaways Women's Travel

10 Best Places to Go in Florida

The United States is home to more than a dozen cities and towns named Florida, but none can compare with the real Florida’s natural fun-in-the-sun appeal.

The Best Places to Go in Florida

From the coolest cities in Florida, like Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, to top theme parks like Busch Gardens and Disney World, these must-see attractions top our list of the best places to go in Florida.

Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, Florida

Disney Magic Kingdom

It’s no exaggeration to suggest that Walt Disney should have named his Orlando theme park Disney Universe—or even Disney Galaxy. The Walt Disney World Resort is so large, in fact, that it’s difficult to narrow down which of the four main theme parks and two water parks to make time for, let alone whether to stay at a hotel within the resort confines or conserve costs with a nearby off-resort stay. Even selecting your preferred theme-park entry ticket can be daunting.

Here is some helpful Walt Disney World Resort information to get you started at this must-see Florida attraction:

Disney World ticketing options include single-day, single-park passes for Epcot, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the Magic Kingdom. You can extend your Disney World family vacation with multi-day passes, which reduce the per-day rate significantly. For example, you can purchase two-day passes, three-day passes, seven-day passes, and 10-day passes. All tickets must be used within 14 days of your initial visit.

With multiday passes, you don’t have to limit yourself to just one Disney theme park. Tack on the Park Hopper option (with access to all four parks) to increase your ticket’s flexibility: Admission to Magic KingdomEpcotDisney’s Animal Kingdom, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios is included.

For some Florida visitors, it’s not a vacation without wild water play or tee time. Disney knows how to round out the visit with two water parks (Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Disney’s Blizzard Beach), a nine-hole golf course, two mini-golf courses, the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, and DisneyQuest Indoor Interactive Theme Park. Access to these extras is included in the Water Park Fun & More pass. You can also combine both the Park Hopper and Water Park Fun & More options for an additional fee.

Budget-minded travelers will easily find an array of accommodations options, with thousands of hotel rooms from “budget” to “luxury” within driving distance of Disney World. Consider a stay at a Disney Resort such as the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin if you want to take advantage of early-morning and late-night access to select theme parks. Guests of Hilton Orlando Lake Buena Vista also have an added hour of play before the general public is allowed in and three hours after the parks close for the evening.

With so many parades and shows, peruse the Disney calendar to find scheduled events, plan your itinerary, and work around park closings. No matter what, you’ll find there’s plenty to do in Orlando—one of the coolest cities in Florida.

South Beach, Miami, Florida

lincoln road miami beach.

Lovingly dubbed SoBe, South Beach’s reputation as a gregarious scene for the fun-loving is well deserved among young and old visitors alike. From laid-back lounges to racy dance clubs, South Beach is world-renowned for its hot nightlife (many clubs operate until dawn). And while the robust club and dining scene is too caliente to sleep through every night, SoBe also knows how to play “grown-up” during the day.

Actually the southernmost tip of Miami Beach, South Beach is one of the best places to go in Miami Beach and home to many enriching cultural offerings, including Miami City BalletNew World SymphonyHolocaust Memorial of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, and Miami Beach Botanical Garden. And you’d be remiss to pass up a stroll along South Beach’s world-famous Art Deco District. This historical part of South Beach is easy to meander along—not only because of its vintage beauty, which is alive with more than 800 candy-colored art deco-style structures, but also because of its concentrated size: a single square mile. Learn about South Beach’s celebrated history by going on a guided art deco walking tour led by the Miami Design Preservation League.

On South Beach, both locals and tourists know how to share the sun, sand, and the occasional pickup volleyball game. Expedite a speedy hangover recovery with yoga lessons from 3rd Street Beach Yoga. Generous instructors facilitate donation-based “yoga from the heart” near the beach’s lifeguard hut.

Always a popular tourist destination, South Beach experiences its biggest influx of visitors in March (spring break), April (Pride festivities), and over Memorial Day Weekend (Urban Beach Week).

Everglades National Park, Florida

everglades national park

A visit to Everglades National Park isn’t just a must-see Florida attraction or one of the top things to do in Florida—it’s an adventure traveler’s dream. The Everglades offers canoe and hiking trails, airboat and tram tours, bird-watching expeditions, and camping.

Also a mecca for those seeking out wildlife sightings, the Florida Everglades’ ecosystem is one of the top attractions in Florida because it’s like no other in the world. Alligators, crocodiles, falcons, turtles, and even panthers are but a few of the many animals you can spot in the Everglades.

Not to be missed, Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge lies on the western edge of the Everglades. This 35,000-acre national refuge comprised of mangroves and islands provides refuge to endangered wildlife, among them West Indian manatees, bald eagles, and Kemp’s ridley sea turtles. There’s some debate about how many islands are actually in the Ten Thousand Islands area. Conservative estimates have it in the hundreds, while more robust assessments estimate at least 17,000 islands during low tide. The Everglades National Park as a whole spans about 1.5 million acres.

Fort Lauderdale

canals with large boats in florida

Ft. Lauderdale is known by many nicknames, among them the “Venice of America” (for its vast system of canals) and the “Yachting Capital of the World” (because locals collectively own 50,000 private yachts). Regardless of what you call it, there’s no disputing that this Florida must-see is a dream destination for boaters. For more than 50 years, Ft. Lauderdale has hosted the Ft. Lauderdale International Boat Show—the largest such event in the world.

But boaters aren’t the only ones docking in this local scene. Countless spring breakers flock to the city for hedonistic fun each March, beach bums bask on Ft. Lauderdale’s 23 miles of beaches, and snorkelers and divers seek out underwater adventures among the 75-plus artificial reefs.

Key West, Florida Keys, Florida

Key West Florida street.

The final stop on the Eastern Seaboard’s 2,369-mile Route 1, Key West really is the be-all and end-all. Geographically, Key West sits at the southernmost point within the continental U.S. and is closer to Havana than it is to Miami. In spite of its tropical climate (Key West boasts an annual average temperature of 77 degrees) and its low-lying land, Key West is hit by hurricanes less than other coastal regions.

While Key West is enthralling in and of itself, be sure to make it out to sea when in the area. Just a few miles off the coast is the third-largest coral-reef system in the world, the Great Florida Reef. Snorkeling, diving, and deep-sea fishing are popular area adventures. Man-made reefs offer wreck diving just a few miles offshore, too.

Key West was once home to Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams, among other celebrities of yesteryear. These days, its most famous residents come in a more natural variety: iguanas, feral chickens and roosters, and a clutter of cats, the latter of the excessive-toe variety, nestled in Hemingway’s former home.

Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida

Universal Studios, Orlando, Florida
(Photo: Universal Orlando Resort)

Just like Walt Disney World Resort on the other side of town, Orlando’s Universal Studios can hang with the big boys. And planning a visit in advance yields major savings.

Multiday tickets purchased online offer as much as $20 off gate rates. For single-park, single-day passes, you can choose between Universal’s Islands of Adventure or Universal Studios Florida. Single-park, multiday tickets are available two days, three days, and four days. Multipark, single-day passes are also available. Multipark, multiday options are available for two days, three days, and four days.

You can skip the lines while at the Universal Studios parks with the Universal Express Pass. A multipark, single-day Universal Express Pass option is also available; as are multiday and even annual pass options (with select blackout dates). Season passes are available that offer “red-carpet treatment.”

With so many theme parks, resorts, and other top attractions to choose from all in one place, it’s easy to see why Orlando is one of the coolest cities in Florida—not to mention one of the best places to go in the entire Sunshine State.

Sanibel Island, Florida

Sanibel Island

The beaches of Sanibel Island are revered around the world as one of the best places to go in Florida by conchologists (shell collectors). The practice of shell collecting is so popular on Sanibel Island’s shores that locals have nicknamed the act of bending down for a shell “the Sanibel Stoop.”

Sanibel Islanders celebrate the seashell with an annual three-day exhibit and festival that typically runs in March. Shell enthusiasts can also learn about shells and mollusks by visiting The Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum. The biggest prize on the beach is the junonia shell, which can land you in the local newspaper.

While shelling is serious business on the island, so is conservation. More than half of Sanibel Island is part of a designated wildlife refuge.

St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine, Florida

St. Augustine isn’t nicknamed “Ancient City” for nothing. Juan Ponce de Leon first explored the area in 1513 and claimed it for Spain. It was later turned over to Britain, then back to Spain, and finally ceded (with the rest of the Florida Territory) to the United States in 1819. Today it’s one of the coolest cities in Florida.

You can see much of its rich history infused into St. Augustine’s architecture in places like Ft. Matanzas National MonumentCastillo de San Marcos National Monument, the oldest wooden schoolhouse in the country, the Hotel Ponce de Leon (once a regal hotel, now part of Flagler College and also a designated National Historic Landmark), and, of course, the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. (Folklore says that Ponce de Leon was searching for the elixir of life when he stumbled upon St. Augustine.)

St. Augustine is also home to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park. The park opened its doors in 1893 and now houses more than 20 species of crocodile as well as other reptiles, a bird collection, and many mammals.

Busch Gardens, Tampa, Florida

Busch Gardens, Tampa, Florida
(Photo: Busch Gardens, Tampa, Florida via Shutterstock)

For those seeking an up-close look at safari wildlife without the high price of an airfare ticket to Africa, Busch Gardens is one of the best places to go in Florida. Among the 2,700 animals that call the 335-acre zoological-themed park home are elephants, cheetahs, hyenas, hippos, kangaroos, meerkats, and lemurs.

Busch Gardens Tampa also features an adjoining water park, Adventure Island. Seek out some water-filled fun on the twisting Aruba Tuba, the 55-foot-drop Riptide, and the 700-foot-long Key West Rapids. Adventure Island closes from November through February and reopens in March; see the current calendar for more information.

All theme-park tickets provide complimentary round-trip shuttle transportation from several Orlando pickup/drop-off points.

Amelia Island, Florida

Amelia Island, Florida

Among the southernmost of the Sea Islands, Amelia Island is an easy drive from Jacksonville and only about five hours from Atlanta. Two bridges connect the island to the mainland.

Amelia Island’s seashore provides plenty of adventures for all. Scallop digging, snorkeling, and horseback riding are all quintessential Amelia Island activities. Watch for the shoreline’s playful dolphins and (if you’re lucky) perhaps even a right-whale sighting.

Amelia Island offers upscale resorts, spas, championship golf courses, a variety of festivals, and of course beaches. Amelia is routinely recognized among the top 10 U.S. islands in Conde Nast Readers’ Choice Awards.

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Editor’s note: This story was originally published on March 1, 2013. It has been updated to reflect the most current information about the top attractions and best places to go in Florida. 

Categories
Entertainment In-Flight Experience

The Best Airlines for In-Flight Entertainment

In-flight entertainment can make the difference between a tolerable flight and a miserable one in the main cabin and can add to the enjoyment of a trip in a premium cabin. CableTV.com, a TV-Internet consumer information resource, recently ranked the in-flight entertainment experience for the 10 largest U.S.-based airlines.

Best Airlines for In-flight Entertainment

The rankings are as follows:

  1. JetBlue
  2. Delta
  3. United
  4. American Airlines
  5. Alaska
  6. Southwest
  7. Hawaiian
  8. Allegiant
  9. Frontier
  10. Spirit

Here’s what makes each one the best:

JetBlue

The nation’s leading low-cost carrier earned a top score on its in-flight entertainment through a combination of factors. Among them are above-average legroom, live TV—36 channels on A320a and E190s, more than 100 channels on A321s—at-seat USB and power outlets, and free Wi-Fi, with a few more extras in the premium cabin. “Overall, it’s a cozy and convenient company that caters to your comfort,” the report points out. This is no surprise: JetBlue consistently shows up at or near the top of most overall ratings of U.S. airlines.

Delta

Another no-surprise result: Delta has been consistently outperforming its two giant legacy competitors—American and United—in passenger ratings. It earned high marks for in-flight food and drinks, along with screens at each seat on most planes and other features. Delta loses the top spot to JetBlue mainly because it charges $16 for WiFi. And Delta offers “really good grub” even in the main cabin.

United

The second legacy line offers much the same as Delta. Its Wi-Fi is a bit more expensive, but in provides a free media “library” you can access by laptop or smart phone and DirecTV on “selected” flights. It got dinged a bit because not all flights have power outlets or screens.

The Others

Alaska, American, and Southwest offer paid Wi-Fi, and those three plus Hawaiian offer at-seat screens on most planes. At the bottom end, lack of both Wi-Fi and at-seat screens doomed Allegiant, Frontier, and Spirit to last-place rankings.

Note: Most of my conclusions came from the CableTV.com study, but I checked features with SeatGuru (SmarterTravel’s sister site) where possible.

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Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2018. It has been updated to reflect the most recent information.