Surreal Landscapes Everyone Needs To See

There are surreal landscapes all around the world, many which seem to be from another planet entirely and go well beyond the point of extraordinary. Many of these landscapes are just plain bizarre and seem to be a collection of detailed movie sets but they are indeed as rel as you and I. From the honeycomb homes of ancient cave dwellers in Turkey’s Cappadocia to the fiery, blazing crater in Turkmenistan’s desert burning for more than four decades, the following landscapes are some of the most surreal visions on the planet.

8. The Wave | Arizona

In the Arizona Strip within the area of Coyote Buttes North is The Wave, not a giant hand or anything flapping in the wind but an iconic and surreal stretch of multi-coloured sandstone rock layers that twist and turn across the landscape in an almost unimaginable and dreamlike way. The windblown formations, originally formed by Jurassic winds blowing sand dunes across the southwestern desert cemented striations creating the streaked landscape. Photographers and film makers love the location, which features the main Wave, The Second Wave, and several minor fixtures including Sand Cove, the Hooters, Top Rock Arch, Fatali’s Boneyard, The Alcove, and Meoldy Arch and the Grotto. To visit this impressive landscape though, you must get a permit and that can be difficult. There are ten permits granted for each day and generally more than 150 applicants but also walk-in permits so it’s not impossible.

7. Grand Prismatic Spring | Yellowstone National Park

Grand Prismatic Spring seems like a computer-generated image for it’s eye-popping, vibrant colours but there’s definitive science behind the U.S.A.’s largest hot spring in beautiful Yellowstone National Park. This is Yellowstone’s most beautiful attraction and its most remarkable one too. Radiating high-temperature water, and astounding kaleidoscopic colours, the spring can be seen via a boardwalk running alongside of it, reachable by a straightforward walk.
It was discovered in 1871 by the Hayden Expedition, which was the first exploration of what was discovered to be Yellowstone. After abundant research, it was scientifically determined that the colours endure because of bacteria thriving in the heat of the spring and the different colours are representative of different microscopic life forms living within the spring. To see the exceptional sight, hike to Midway Bluff where a panoramic scene unfolds of the spring and adjacent Midway Basin.

6. Red Beach | China

Imagine being surrounded by a sea of blood red as far as the eye can see, with only a wooden boardwalk carving through this natural and curious anomaly. Near China’s Panjin City, the Liaohe River Delta holds a one-of-a-kind landscape called Red Beach. During the summer, Red Beach appears s any other, lovely water and some sea weed (called suaeda salsa) in typical green hues but come the season’s change, the green sea weed across the entire stretch of beach transforms to a brilliant, fire-red colour. A large part of Red Beach is a protected nature reserve (it’s the biggest reed marsh and wetland in the world) but a small part is kept open for visitors to see this astonishing change and view nearly 240 bird species living nearby. Get to Red Beach from Beijing on one of several daily trains or easily from historic Panjin City via bus.

5. Sossusvlei | Namibia

Sossusvlei is a famous salt and clay flat in Namibia in the Namib Desert’s southern end within Namib‑Naukluft National Park (Africa’s biggest conservation are) and enclosed by a series of massive red dunes creating spectacular contrast with the white flats and painting one of the most beautiful landscapes in the country. The dunes are some of the world’s largest reaching more than 1,300 feet, providing photography buffs one of the most snap-worthy scenes on the continent. Sossusvlei translates to “dead-end-marsh,” Sossusvlei’s dunes create a natural dam, stopping the flow of the river Tsauchab but because of the desert’s extremely arid conditions, the river rarely reaches this point, keeping the flats bone-dry throughout but when a particularly wet rainy season occurs, visitors appear from ll over the world to see the magnificent site. The flats transform into a stunning, reflective lake enveloped by the dunes, and can remain that way or up to a year.

4. Cappadocia, Anatolia, Turkey

Cappadocia in Turkey’s Anatolia region seems to be pulled directly out of a chimerical fairytale and set into the Turkish plains, creating a geological curiosity of lofty boulders and punctured hills and an image that’s certainly ethereal. The history of humans in this part of the world though is just as fascinating as the whimsical topography–for centuries, inhabitants have taken advantage of the softness of the stones and used them to create underground shelters, leaving behind a countryside dispersed with captivating architecture. The subterranean havens of Kaymakl_ and Derinkuyu along with the rock-cut, painting-adorned shrines of Göreme are Cappadocia’s most famous landmarks. Don’t miss the unique opportunity of staying in one of the cave hotels to experience modern cave-dwelling at its best. Whether it’s quite literally sleeping in a cave that draws you here, or the incredible hiking possibilities, it’s the lunar-esque panoramas that are unforgettable.

3. Giant’s Causeway | Northern Ireland

Along Norther Ireland’s Antrim Coast is one of the most surreal landscapes in Europe, the Giant’s Causeway, a series of more than 35,000 interlinked black basalt columns jutting out of the sea, the result of an volcanic eruption about 50 million years ago. County Antrim, home to this legendary UNESCO World Heritage marvel, sits on Northern Ireland’s northeast coast, a landscape settled on lush, green countryside that touches sea under big blue skies just a few kilometers from Bushmills town. The name encouraged tales of giants stepping over the seas to Scotland. Today, the Giant’s Causeway draws millions of visitors who walk the coastal stretch with a guide or independently, often climbing the nearby Shepherd’s Steps, a cliff top path, reaching a summit for a bird’s eye view of the mystical columns. The Visitor’s Center is another vision altogether, with basalt columns, glass walls and a stunning interior designed by Heneghan-Peng, a pair of award-winning architects.

2. Antelope Canyon | Arizona

Antelope Canyon is east fo Page, Arizona on Navajo land. It’s a slot canyon, a narrow gully created by centuries of wear by water streaming through rock and characteristically much deeper than it is broad. This particular canyon is an astonishing sight comprised of two distinct slot canyon areas referred to as The Crack and The Corkscrew. The canyons are the American Southwest’s most treasured natural attraction, and similar to The Wave in Arizona, appear in many films and photo shoots for their incredible formation. To enter the canyon, visitors must walk through narrow and curving crevice spanning only a few feet in width. A drastic temperature change is most noticeable, dropping up to 20 degrees. The filtered sun reaching into the canyon depths is one of the most beautiful sights, creating magical patterns and shadows that are constantly changing and creating a dazzling range of colours.

1. Door to Hell | Turkmenistan

In Turkmenistan’s Karakum Desert by the village of Derweze is Darvaza Crater, aka The Door to Hell, a mysterious cavern that’s been burning for more than four decades. Soviet geologists discovered phenomena in 1971 when their drilling rig collapsed into the ground unexpectedly. That left a massive hole spanning more than 220 feet. The gaseous crater was thought to be poisonous, leaving the scientists to decide setting it on fire was the best way to get rid of it. The expectation was the fires would burn out in a short time yet several decades after, the fire is as strong as ever. The gas-filled, fiery crater is a visually stunning and fascinating point in a landscape otherwise dull and barren. Tour groups do make the trip as do scientists who actually suit up and bravely rappel in to collect soil samples and snap photos.

10 Must-See Landmarks in the US

Just because you have a large family or find yourself on a budget, doesn’t mean you have to stay at home and pout. The good news is that there are numerous cultural, historic, kitschy, and fun landmarks right here in this beautiful country of ours.

So what are you waiting for? Hop in the car, tune up the music, and take a route to a few of these ten must-see US landmarks…

1. Washington Monument, Washington, D.C.

Standing proud between the U.S. Capitol and the White House, the Washington Monument soars 555-feet up, into the great blue yonder. Constructed completely of white marble, striking blue gneiss, and granite, you’ll want to snap some photos of it in the distance from the outlook at the National Mall. But the adventure doesn’t stop there. You can actually take the family to the top if they’re willing to brave the often long lines (from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. daily) and white-knuckle it to the top on the swift elevator that whisks you to the observation level for a spectacular vista of our nation’s capital.

washington-monument

2. Rocky Mountains, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming

Stretching from Colorado all the way to Wyoming, the Rocky Mountains will leave you awe-struck—both because of their panoramic beauty and due to the sheer multitude of outdoor adventures they offer. From snowboarding to skiing and from hiking to off road cycling, the whole family will love it!

rocky mountains

3. Statue of Liberty, New York, New York

The Statue of Liberty bids welcome with her flaming torch from Liberty Island in New York Harbor. Big and small kids alike will be impressed by the lady’s size and magnificence. She was actually a gift of bestowed by France in 1886, and you can easily check her out, in all of her glory, via a harbor boat cruises, which takes you around Liberty Island or via a sail and tour of Liberty Island, in which you can climb to the top of her crown and check out the stunning vistas of New York City.

Statue of Liberty

4. Mount Rushmore, Keystone, South Dakota

The presidents carved into Mount Rushmore, located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, were sculpted out of Harney Peak granite by artist Gutzon Borglum, who captured the first 150 years of American history in the likenesses of US presidents—George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln. Today, you can get a good look at the project that took 14 years to accomplish via an informative 30-minute guided tour about America’s history along the Presidential Trail.

Mount Rushmore

5. Yellowstone Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park is home to Old Faithful (one of the world’s most unique geysers), as well as a plethora of wildlife, including grizzly bears, elk, wolves, and bison. Stretching over Wyoming and inching into Montana and Idaho, the hiking, birding, and photography opportunities are endless in America’s very first national park.

yellowstone park

6. Grand Canyon, Arizona

The Grand Canyon is proof of Nature’s amazing power and beauty.  One can’t help but be amazed by the immensity of the steep-sided canyon, which stretches 277 miles (446 km) long, 18 miles wide, and dives over a mile into the vast open space carved out by the Colorado River. The surrounding Grand Canyon National Park preserves the local land and wildlife in the area, making an ideal hiking opportunity around one of the worlds “Seven Natural Wonders”!

grand canyon

7. Hoover Dam, Nevada-Arizona

Constructed from 1931 and 1936 to slow and store water from the Colorado River, the Hoover Dam lies on the Nevada-Arizona border. The sweeping 726.4-foot concrete dam wall attracts history buffs, engineers, and architectural enthusiasts for guided tours of the dam and adjoining power plant.

Hoover dam
Jeffrey J Coleman / Shutterstock.com

8. Niagara Falls, New York

A popular wedding destination (if drive-thru is your thing); the city of Niagara Falls, New York is home to another natural wonder of the world—the famed and romantic Niagara Falls. You can check out the falls for photo opps or even take a boat tour. But don’t ignore the other city attractions such as casinos, museums, hotels, and restaurants.

Niagara Falls, New York

9. The Space Needle, Seattle, Washington

Built in 1962 for Seattle World’s Fair, the futuristic Space Needle stands 605-feet high and is a lasting symbol of the city itself, and the potential of the modern world. You can purchase a ticket to ride the elevator to the 520-foot-high observation deck for a panoramic view of the city below or dinner at the swanky SkyCity revolving restaurant.

The Space Needle, Seattle

10. Empire State Building, New York, New York

Apart from the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building is one of the Big Apple’s most iconic structures. Built in 1930 to 1,453-feet, 8 9/16-inch heights, the Empire State Building hosts two observatories on the 86th floor (at 1,050-feet) and 102nd (at 1,250-feet) floors. You can visit year round, daily, from 8 a.m. to 2 a.m.

Empire State Building

Top 10 Most Romantic Places on Earth

A table for two overlooking the sun-drenched cliffs of Santorini, Greece; a leisurely stroll under Paris’ illuminated Eiffel Tower; watching the sun sink in hues of pink, red, orange, gold, and indigo behind the soaring cliffs of the Grand Canyon…

These moments are steeped in so much romance that it’s difficult not to feel the flutter of new love or rekindle an old, almost forgotten love. That’s why, in the name of love and all it holds dear, we scoured the earth to find the top 10 most romantic places:

1. Paris, France

Ooo la la, the city of the city of lights, charming cafes, wine, art, and of course, love awaits couples in gay Paris. Even a whisper calls to mind magical evenings spent lingering with a glass of wine, or two, at an outdoor bistro. Or a nighttime boat cruise with the perfect view of the grand Eiffel Tower. Wherever the streets of Paris take you, it will certainly be an unforgettable experience for you and your lover.

Paris, France

2. Santorini, Greece

If you’re looking for the most spectacular sunset on earth, a perch atop the unique, cliff-top village on the island of Santorini will take your sweetie’s breath away. This is where you can grab a delectable seafood feast at one of the many outdoor white and blue restaurants—while you watch the bright rays of the sun reflect and then disappear into the azure waters of the Aegean.

Santorini, Greece

3. Casablanca, Morocco

There’s a good reason why one of the most romantic films ever takes its name from this particular city. Morocco with its sweeping deserts, stunning beaches, snow-capped mountains, and charming villages embraces lovers and then weaves its romantic spell. Trust us; be it sand, snow, or surf, Morocco promises something special for every couple.
Casablanca, Morocco

4. Venice, Italy

The spirit of love is legendary in Venice, Italy. It draws people in love from all around the world who do like the Italians—embracing in the street, floating in gondola up the Grand Canal, sharing a gelato, and finding tucked away stone doorways for a little canoodling.

Venice, Italy

5. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

You will fall in love over and over again on the island Bora Bora. Here the island beckons you to forget your troubles as you literally melt into the warm, blue water, let the sunny skies kiss your body, and relish a little rest and relaxation (and perhaps a fancy cocktail or two) with your special someone.

Bora Bora

6. Belize

In Belize it’s difficult to tell what’s warmer—the embrace of your beloved or the embrace of this alluring country with its azure waters, endless beaches, lush green tropical forests, and sultry climate—either way, your stay on these sandy shores will ignite new passion or inspire old ardor.


Belize

7. The Maldives

Nothing says romance like floating with your infatuation in the blues and turquoise waters of a deserted lagoon, bathed in bright, warm sunshine.  The Maldives, islands tucked away in the Indian Ocean, are all about uncovering a new level of intimacy—whether it’s snorkeling in the underwater coral gardens or strolling hand-in-hand along the endless beaches!

The Maldives

8. Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA

Leave your partner in love speechless with a trip to a true world wonder. The Grand Canyon is ideal for adventurous couples who are up for hiking its steep, carved stone cliffs. Pack a picnic, and once you reach the top, you can reward your team work by witnessing the “out of this world” view!

Grand Canyon

9. Taj Mahal, India

A mausoleum crafted out of love is certainly worthy of a little adoration by modern day lovers. The magnificent beauty of the Taj Mahal can be witness each and every day as the sun sets in hues of tickled pink, bathing the structure at sunset. The Taj Mahal was built by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan in tribute to his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

Taj Mahal


10. Tahiti, French Polynesia

A single-room, thatched-roof bungalow overlooking the crystal blue waters of a tropical beach is just about the most romantic place you can hide away from the world.  That’s why Tahiti, an island in French Polynesia, is synonymous with lover’s paradise.

Tahiti, French Polynesia