THE Top 20 Places to Be in 2015

Early in 2015, the venerable New York Times published its list of ’52  Places To Go To This Year’. Its reasoning rested on the observation that “Untrammeled oases beckon, once-avoided destinations become must-sees and familiar cities offer new reasons to visit.” Its philosophy seems to be that it’s time to stop fighting our way into the overcrowded, stratospherically expensive established sites. Most of the list that follows features three qualities: great food, novelty and at least one United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) site defined as “places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity”. There are 1007 UNESCO sites in all as of this writing and the places below contain almost 200 of them. Provence and Tuscany? How about Georgia with terrific wine, breathtaking scenery and enough history for a bus full of PhDs. Tired of the prices and lineups in Greece? There’s this little fishing village on the Turkish Riviera. It’s a great idea. Let’s change it up a bit here people. Do something original.  How about a feast of muskox on a sub-Arctic speck of rock in the North Atlantic? Beyond that there are some tourism plain Janes who have suddenly let down their hair and are proving to be quite fetching. And there’s a promising crop of the shunned or unavailable who are opening up their unseen treasures. The war in Sri Lanka, with its seven World Heritage Sites is over. The pariah state of Zimbabwe with its incredible wildlife, savannahs, is behaving. So, in the spirit of the Times, here are the best of the best. Twenty totally fresh ways to seriously renovate your travel itinerary:

20. Kas, Turkey

Less expensive than Greece, far less overrun than other places in the region, Kas is a happening place. This little fishing village on the Turkish Riviera, the Turquoise Coast is one of those ever-dwindling number of getaways where you can still get away. It has all the active seaside things you’d want: kayaking, trekking and serious diving (with wrecks and underwater sculpture). One Times reader called it “a must for nature lovers”. To firm up both the mind and the thighs, there are hikes along the Lycian Way to see tombs from the pre-Roman Empire. The elaborate ones carved into the mountainsides are extremely impressive and the best ones are a 45 minute drive away in Xanthos. Pronounced “Cash”, it won’t take a lot of yours to enjoy quality down time without the partying hordes.

Kas, Turkey

19. Baku, Azerbaijan

Begin with the walled city dating from the 12th century. UNESCO calls the 15th century Shuirvinshaj’s palace “one of the pearls of Azerbaijan’s architecture which reflects evidence of Zoroastrian, Sasanian, Arabic, Persian, Shirvani, Ottoman, and Russian presence”. Looming over the ancient streets is the gaudy modernity of the Flames Towers, a pair of 600 foot buildings, flame shaped, with thousands of LED lights whose ‘flames’ can be seen for miles. It works as an elegant combination of very old and very new as oil money brings the Mercedes, caviar crowd onto the medieval streets.

Ramil Aliyev / Shutterstock.com
Ramil Aliyev / Shutterstock.com

18. Cáceres, Spain

A phenomenal place that has everything but a beach. History, art, architecture, excellent wine and renowned kitchens. In fact, it is designated as Spain’s Gastronomic Capital for 2015 so there’s a huge buzz about this city of 100,000 near the Portuguese border. The buzz began with the opening of Atrio a striking futuristic hotel-restaurant in the prestigious Relais and Chateau chain with a pair of coveted Michelin Stars. It’s located in the ancient walled city, on UNESCO’s list.  The city was captured by the Moors in the 8th century and not retaken by Christians until 1229. Its towers reflect its Roman, Muslim, Visigoth and Christian rulers. Gothic and Renaissance building abound. Much of the city’s once prominent Jewish quarter survives. The UNESCO citation calls it “Outstanding universal value”. A fairy tale place occupied through history by military powers, though the occupying force today consists of brilliant, creative chefs.

Cáceres, Spain

17. Chengdu, China

Chengdu eminently qualifies for the off the beaten track status, being near Tibet, 1200 miles inland from the coastal colossus of Shanghai. But there are direct international flights sprouting and it’s the panda capital of the world. The Giant Panda Research Base houses about 200 of the much loved bears. It is also the capital of Sichuan cuisine, luring foodies with spicy palates just to eat the tongue tingling cuisine. There is a Chinese saying “the best cuisine is from China, while the richest flavor is from Chengdu”. There are over 60,000 restaurants and another 62,000 caterers. The city isn’t much to look at but it is one of only eight cities in the world with a UNESCO City of Gastronomy Designation.

Chengdu, China

16. Danang, Vietnam

Danang has long been known as a good place to stop over on the way to somewhere else, most notably, the UNESCO heritage sites nearby. The old Imperial city of Hue and the ancient town of Hoi An are short trips away. But a modern skyline is taking shape and the city between the Marble Mountains and the gorgeous beaches on the South China Sea is becoming worthy of a stay on its own. China Beach was a favorite place of GI’s for R&R during the Vietnam War. Beachside luxury resorts are going up, and keep in mind, the exchange rate for the Vietnamese Dong is well over 20,000 to the US$ and Euro making those hotels and signature banh mi Vietnamese sandwiches pretty affordable.

Lauren Ava / Shutterstock.com
Lauren Ava / Shutterstock.com

15. Alentejo, Portugal

It’s something that makes North Americans shake their heads. The beaches of Alantejo (the best in Europe says The Guardian) are relatively unknown because they are remote, a whole two hours from Lisbon. Two hours?  That’s a daily commute in the New World. But all the better for non-Europeans who have no qualms about spending chunks of their lives in cars. Beaches aside there are Roman ruins to be found. Visigoth ruins in fact. Evora is another UNESCO site, an impeccably preserved medieval town. The winemakers produce delicious rich, fruity reds yet Alantejo remains one of the poorest regions of Europe. The crash of the ocean waves, the melodies of the Fado singer in the square, the sense of looking back through time at a disappearing way of life make it a most compelling destination. But hurry, because Michelin stars and oenophile hotels are sprouting already.

Alentejo, Portugal

14. Shikoku, Japan

It’s called the Shikoku Pilgrimage. Eighty eight temples along a 750-mile trail begun in 815 A.D. to honor the much revered monk Kobo Daishi. It is considered a path to spiritual enlightenment. Modern pilgrims can forego the quest for perfection and choose from the many places on Japan’s smallest island that demand a visit. Pick and choose which of the many sites that demand a visit. Matsuyama is the largest city with an imposing castle, ancient hot springs and seven sacred temples. Up in the inland mountains is the Iya Valley; lush, isolated with heart-stopping gorges and vine bridges for the brave. The many hot springs will soothe your mortal coil after a day of incredible hiking or white water rafting.

Matsuyama Japan

13. Papua New Guinea

It’s a good news, bad news kind of story. One of the most remote, exotic places in the world is opening up to tourism. The not so good part is monster cruise ships are just beginning their intrusion on a pristine island country. The beaten track is barely visible from PNG. There won’t be much chilling by the hotel pool here. Because there aren’t a lot of hotel pools, as tourism is still a fledgling industry. There’s a whole new rich ecosystem here wit tribal cultures to experience and timeless beauty in jungles almost lost to time. The 60 mile long Kokoda Track takes hardy trekkers through native villages. Madang in the north is getting famous for diving and PNG as a whole is a birders paradise. Do keep in mind that the capital, Port Moresby has often been rated among the Least Livable Cities in the world. Nobody’s perfect.

Papua New Guinea

12. Greenland

There are still the breathtaking fjords to be cruised, whales to be watched and sunning at midnight to be done. Chalk one up for climate change, Greenland is getting greener (we joke). The amazing UNESCO Heritage Site the enormous Ilulissat Icefjord is at its noisiest and most active during summer sunshine when icebergs the size of mountains heave and crack. It’s a memorable day trip from Ilulissat, the third largest city and there are boat trips out into Disko Bay to get up close and icicle with the massive bergs. As with other northern countries, there’s a movement to modernize traditional cooking, focusing on local ingredients and freshness. Seafood to die for and game, especially muskox are favorites. The Greenland website reassures diners about the taste of muskox “The taste of muskox surpasses that of domestic livestock and, it melts in your mouth bursting with flavor”. Get more acquainted with native culture at the Qasigiannguit Museum with exhibits from the Stone Age to today.

Greenland Hot Springs

11. Georgia

The Georgian word for wine is ‘ghvino’, claimed to be the origin to the English ‘wine’, Italian ‘vino’. They have been making wine here for 7000 years and they are pulling the cork on what the Times calls the next great wine destination. The pleasant capital Tbilisi has a wine bar on just about every corner and there are wine tours of Kakheti, the main producing region. Surprisingly rich in natural beauty, situated between Russia and Turkey, many empires have left their mark on it. There are fabulous old churches, Black Sea resorts and alpine beauty. But it’s the vino attracting the attention now. The Georgian description of a good wine is one that could make a pheasant cry. So an American who came to visit, stayed, and started a vineyard whose wines bear the name “Pheasant’s Tears.”

Kakheti Georgia

10. Sri Lanka

A long deadly civil war made this an island that people only wanted desperately to get out of. Now, a tourism industry is being built where there were battlefields not long ago. The peace has allowed the small island nation to show off its considerable assets. Beaches that go on forever. Eight World Heritage sights. Cuisine to please the pickiest foodie. Sri Lanka is a world tea superpower. Plantations and tea museums are popular. There are safari camps here too, especially in the lush Sinharaja rain forest. Find a treetop yoga studio or luxury spa. At Dam bulla, temples have been carved out of sheer rock and filled with stunning centuries-old Buddhist artworks and artifacts. And last but certainly by no means least, the perfection of the Maldives, a thousand or so islands off the southern coast in the Indian Ocean. It is on the short list for best beach in the world. And if it’s not it, it sure is close.

Sinharaja (Sri Lanka)

9. Oman

­Thoughts of rugged fjords bring forth images of icy Scandinavian inlets with bone chilling cold and sheer granite cliffs. Well, welcome to the Norway of Arabia where the heat can melt your bridgework. Here in the isolated Musandam Peninsula the fjords are called khors. The scene is so other-worldly the BBC compared it to “the shores of a Martian Sea.” Adding to the spice is its location on the Strait of Hormuz, one of the top three places where WW3 is likely to start. Nearby are little-known but spectacular coral reefs making for great diving. Oman is the last part of the Arab world that hasn’t been paved and skyscraperred with oil money. The capital Muscat is a lovely low-key feast of Muslim architecture, old Portuguese forts and bazaars. Its geography ranges from incredible mountainscapes to ancient desert to pristine beaches, but the cranes are becoming more common on the skyline and names like Radisson, Kempinski, Four Seasons and Fairmont are now setting up shop.

Muscat, Oman

8. The North Coast of Peru

A number of places on the list are familiar destinations opening up­ new alternative tourist attractions. The medieval Incan capital of Cusco and the mysterious, celestial Macchu Picchu need no promotion and may even have too many visitors for their own good. The North Coast is remote, as in 22 hours from Cusco. Its Macchu Picchu rival is the fort at Kuélap, a stone city at 10,000 feet. Built by the Chachapoyas, or ‘People of the Clouds’ around the first Millennium, its sophisticated design required more stone to build than the Great Pyramid of Egypt. Eco-friendly hotels and sites abound. The Andean spectacled bear is nearly extinct, but can be found in numbers at the Chipparri Reserve. Surfers will like the waves and vibes in the village of Mancora. For whale watchers and serious fishing types, there is Cabo Blanco, once a favorite of Ernest Hemingway. It’s like a whole new world in Peru’s North Coast, still unspoiled relatively undeveloped and still inexpensive.

Kuélap Peru

7. Tanzania

Home of the timeless, magical Serengeti with its breathtaking scenes and staggering annual migration of more than two million mammals, wildebeests, gazelles and zebras. The Times says “the real new treasure here is unprecedented access to sparsely trafficked regions.” The Selous Game Reserve in the south is home to large populations of elephants and leopards. The landscape in the relatively unknown Arangire National Park unique in the region and is home to climbing lions and giraffe. Trek as far up Africa’s highest mountain in Mt. Kilimanjaro National Park, and when you done following the herds and conquering mountain tops, Zanzibar awaits with its rich history, wonderful beaches and newly upgraded creature comforts.

Moshi, Tanzania Serengeti National Park

6. Zimbabwe

Long run by one of the world’s most despicable despots, Zimbabwe is slowly emerging from pariah status with political stability unseen in years. With the currency next to worthless, a window of tremendous opportunity has opened on a country whose natural beauty cannot be overstated. Infrastructure and travel companies are making visiting easier than ever. There are five UNESCO Sites including the ruins of Great Zimbabwe, said to be the home of the Queen of Sheba. There is the legendary Mosi-oa-Tunya or Victoria Falls the largest curtain waterfall on earth. Stability looks good on the capital Harare, one of the nicest on the sub content, but it’s still the big game safaris that are the biggest draw on open savannahs or in numerous National Parks. It’s truly the stuff that dreams are made of.

Victoria Falls Zimbabwe

5. Medellin, Colombia

Urban renewal with innovative architecture and design. Not long ago the name Medellin was synonymous with drug lords and corruption. It is now becoming known for one of the most ambitious urban transformations in the world. The renewal is epitomized by the futuristic Metrocables, cable cars that unlocked the impoverished people in the surrounding hills from poor, crime-ridden neighborhoods integrating them with the urban renewal below. Similarly, another slum was transformed by the stunning Avant Garde architecture of the Biblioteca Espana. Revel in the night life with the beautiful people at the Parque Llera and enjoy the gentle climate in the place known as City of Eternal Spring.

dubes sonego / Shutterstock.com
dubes sonego / Shutterstock.com

4. Macedonia

According to the Times, this is THE next Balkan destination. The first good sign: there are no McDonalds. All closed. God bless them. The capital Skopje was recently rated one of the 10 least expensive cities in the world. Once one of the great crossroads of history, Greeks, Romans, Ottomans and much later Communist empires held sway and left their cultural, architectural and culinary influences. Skopje is a vibrant melting pot of all of them. A surprising treasure trove of natural beauty, there is much to sight-see or for the more active to climb, hike or ride. It is landlocked but the beaches of Lake Ohrid are renowned as are the vineyards are a mere three hour drive across the Greek border.

Macedonia

3. The Faroe Islands

The Faroes are a scattering of rocky islands 150 miles due north of Scotland in the north Atlantic. It has a famously ornery climate and a brooding sub-Arctic other-worldly beauty that traditionally drew bird-watchers, naturalists and trekkers. It is one of the world capitals for those adorable puffins, which also show up on local menus. Its current celebrity is based on a unique new cuisine as set out in The New Nordic Kitchen Manifesto that is traditional Scandinavian food meets The Iron Chef. Not much grows in that climate so they forage for herbs, harvest seaweed and pair them with locally grown mutton and the superb deep-sea Faroe Bank cod and mussels and serve them with wild angelica on driftwood plates, all washed down with schnapps followed by local beer and cheese. An unforgettable feast after an unforgettable day trekking up the highest mountain at Slættaratindur. It is tucked away off the beaten track but as part of Denmark, it’s a short flight from Copenhagen.

Faroe Islands

2. Bolivia

A definite hint  that things are happening here: the culinary genius behind the world’s # 1 rated restaurant for three consecutive years in Copenhagen has opened a place in La Paz. Another South American bad boy turning it around drawing investors and interest in its unsurpassed scenery and cities. It has become a destination for foodies, trekkers wine snobs and adventure seekers. Who knew Bolivia made wine, let alone having an acclaimed wine route?  From the exuberance of La Paz to an array of sublime World Heritage sites to spectacular settings to hike, ski, mountain bike and exhaust yourself to your heart’s content. You can follow Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid south to Tupiza, but lay off the train robbing and your visit will end much happier than theirs.

Potosi, Bolivia

1. Durban, South Africa

Long overshadowed by its two bigger, siblings, Johannesburg and Cape Town, South Africa’s third largest city is stepping into the limelight. ‘Durbs’ as it’s known is undergoing a serious reno and upgrade, thanks in part to facilities from the 2010 Worlds Cup. The beachside Rivertown neighborhood of warehouses and Art Deco buildings is being transformed into a happening ‘hood of galleries, restaurants and skateboard installations to jumpstart its rather tranquil night life. Durban is also home to a large ethnic Indian community and the influence is unmistakable. It was here that a young lawyer named Mohandas Gandhi settled in 1883 and began his legendary life as activist and leader.

lcswart / Shutterstock.com
lcswart / Shutterstock.com

18 Canadian Music Festivals to Check Out This August

Canada’s festival culture is as diverse as its landscape, with a history dating back hundreds of years to when festivals were held to commemorate seasonal changes. Today, this culture has expanded to include over 200 major festivals, a hefty chunk of which are dedicated primarily to music and the celebration of folk, metal, country, EDM and everything in between. So, as the summer approaches the mid-way mark, and you find yourself geared up for your umpteenth festival experience, or, you’re just finally able to flee the office for some summer fun, EscapeHere breaks down the selection of music fests happening in Canada this August:

18. Sunfest Country Music Festival, Cowichan Valley BC

July 30 – August 2
15 years in the making, Sunfest started out as a 1 day rock concert which has since expanded into Vancouver Island’s biggest country music festival. Bringing in over 40,000 music lovers to the Cowichan Valley each year, the event not only showcases world-renowned talent and local artists, but strives to leave an economic impact by increasing the area’s exposure and donating proceeds to local organizations. This year’s festival is scheduled to have 12 main stage performers, including Lee Brice, Keith Urban and Jack Connolly.

Photo by: Sunfest
Photo by: Sunfest

17. Osheaga, Montreal QC

July 31 – August 2
With 2015 marking the 10th anniversary of this festival’s particular salute to music and the visual arts, festival-goers are undoubtedly in for the experience of a lifetime. The event, which annually attracts tens of thousands of music fans to Parc Jean Drapeau on Montreal’s Saint Helen’s Island, broke attendance records in 2013 when it brought in an astounding 135,00 people over the 3-day period. The diverse lineup of big-name acts mixed with emerging local and national talent is once again poised for success, with over 100 entertainers set to perform on numerous outdoor stages this August long weekend. The 2015 lineup includes FKA twigs, Florence and the Machine, Marina and the Diamonds, Weezer, Kendrick Lamar, Young the Giant, The Black Keys, Charli XCX and Tyler, the Creator.

Photo by: Osheaga/EvaBlue
Photo by: Osheaga/EvaBlue

16. Kaslo Jazz Etc. Summer Festival, Kaslo BC

July 31 – August 2
24 years strong, the Kazlo Jazz Etc. Summer Music Festival is held each year in picturesque Kaslo Bay Park, nestled in front of Kootenay Lake and the Purcell mountain range. The longest running music event in the area brings together approximately 5,000 people and over 20 jazz, blues and Latin performers, fostering a laid-back atmosphere of family fun. The 3-day festival features ticketless public access every day before 5 pm, tons of local food vendors, family workshops and children’s events and performances in the children’s entertainment tent. With this year’s lineup of established and up-and-coming talent, Kaslo Jazz Fest is truly a family beach party destination.

Photo by: Kaslo Jazz Etc/Eye of the Mind Photography
Photo by: Kaslo Jazz Etc/Eye of the Mind Photography

15. Big Valley Jamboree, Camrose AB

July 30 – August 2
5-time winner of the Country Music Association’s Country Music Event of the Year is the primary reason country music fans from all over flock to Camrose during Canada’s August long weekend. Not only are big names performing on the main stage all day long, but the festival is packed with activities during all 4 days, including songwriter’s workshops, bull-riding, a karaoke contest and a marketplace trade-show. The 25,000 person daily attendance is easy to understand, particularly when you take in this year’s jaw-dropping lineup: Dallas Smith, The Band Perry, Reba and Brad Paisley, to name a few.

Photo by: Big Valley Jamboree
Photo by: Big Valley Jamboree

14. Veld Music Festival, Toronto ON

August 1 & 2
Established in 2012, Veld Music Festival has grown to become Canada’s largest electronic music fest, attracting upwards of 50,000 people every year to Downsview Park in Toronto. So much more than just a giant electro-dance party, Veld showcases the very best in EDM, with the 2015 lineup presenting over 30 internationally acclaimed performers including Deadmau5, Hardwell, The Chainsmokers, Kaskade and Nicky Romero.

Photo by: Veld
Photo by: Veld

13. Canmore Folk Music Festival, Canmore AB

August 1 – 3
With the inaugural event taking place in 1978, this is Alberta’s longest running folk music festival. Over the past 37 years, crowds have been drawn to Centennial Park in Canmore to chill out and enjoy the mesmerizing story-telling and musical artistry characteristic of folk entertainers. Today, the event has expanded to include over 30 acts across 3 stages, and expects to attract upwards of 15,000 people, all while providing alcohol-free family fun. Kids will be kept busy with a free children’s concert as well as a kids area that boasts crafts, a bouncy castle and a climbing wall, and festival goers of all ages will appreciate this year’s once-again all-star lineup; Juno award-winner Amelia Curran and Grammy winner Mike Farris are both slated to perform.

Photo by: Canmore Folk Music Festival
Photo by: Canmore Folk Music Festival

12. Manitoulin Country Fest, Little Current ON

August 6 – 9
In its 9th year running, this country music fest held annually in Canada’s cottage country has built a reputation as having one of the friendliest and most family-oriented festival atmospheres across Canada. The organizers work hard to create a sense of comfort and above-and-beyond care for both the entertainers and the attendees, fostering that sense of small-town love that makes the event so popular. The 2015 festival schedule consists of 14 musical acts featuring Tom Cochrane, Gord Bamford and the Canucky Bluegrass Boys, as well as a selection of vendors and a family fun zone.

Photo by: Manitoulin Country Fest
Photo by: Manitoulin Country Fest

11. Lunenburg Folk Harbour Festival, Lunenburg NS

August 6 – 9
If you find yourself on the East Coast this August, this highly interactive folk festival is a must. Not only is it held primarily at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, but it creates an overwhelming sense of community involvement, with workshops and additional concerts held at various venues throughout the city. In previous years festival attendance has reached 3,000, with increasingly popular evening and Sunday morning main-stage performances.

Photo by: Lunenburg Folk Harbour Society
Photo by: Lunenburg Folk Harbour Society

10. Boots and Hearts, Oro-Medonte ON

August 6 – 9
This music and camping event at the Burl`s Creek Event Grounds in Oro-Medonte, Ontario is one of the largest and most anticipated country music festivals in the nation. The three-day event promises not only the best in Canadian and global country music, but various other events including a bull riding competition, late night dance party and emerging artists showcase. Alumni of the festival include Tim McGraw, Miranda Lambert, and Jason Aldean, with this year’s line-up set to impress with over 30 entertainers headlined by Brad Paisley, Eric Church and Florida Georgia Line. With attendance in previous years topping 30,000 people, this is one event country fans won’t want to miss.

Photo by: Boots and Hearts
Photo by: Boots and Hearts

9. Regina Folk Festival, Regina SK

August 7 – 9
This festival has been around for an astounding 46 years, beginning in 1969 at the Regina campus of the University of Saskatchewan and held annually at various indoor locations before moving to Victoria Park in 1985. Since then, the festival has drawn over 20,000 music lovers each year to its free daytime concerts and workshops, evening headliners and artists market, beer garden and children’s area. This year’s event is sure to be another one for the ages, featuring over 30 acts, 15 food vendors and main stage headliners Blue Rodeo and Sinead O’Connor.

Photo by: Regina Folk Festival
Photo by: Regina Folk Festival

8. Heavy Montreal, Montreal QC

August 7 – 9
Not only the largest heavy metal and hard rock music festival in Canada, Heavy Montreal is one of the largest events of its kind in the world, drawing over 70,000 people to Parc Jean-Drapeau each year. This festival is known not only for the big-name acts that grace the main festival venue, but also the smaller events that take place over the weekend at different venues across the city. 2015 marks the 7th edition of the festival and is sure to cause some sort of moshing frenzy with the mind-blowing lineup: over 70 acts including Korn, Alexisonfire, Faith No More, Iggy Pop, Billy Talent and Slipknot.

Photo by: Heavy Montreal/EvaBlue
Photo by: Heavy Montreal/EvaBlue

7. Squamish Valley Music Festival, Squamish BC

August 7 – 9
First started in 2010, the Squamish Valley Music Festival in British Columbia is one of Canada’s most successful outdoor music events. Taking place on Centennial Field, Logger Sports Grounds and Hendrickson Field in beautiful Squamish Valley, the festival offers up an unparalleled assortment of entertainers from all music genres for 3 days of performances, backstage tours and artist meet and greets. The festival also boasts 4 campsites ranging in options from family-friendly with noise curfews, to, shall we say, not-so-family friendly, all within walking distance of the festival. With over 60 acts on 4 stages, it’s easy to see how the event draws crowds upwards of 100,000. This year’s lineup features headliners Sam Smith, Drake and Mumford and Sons.

Photo by: Squamish Valley Music Festival
Photo by: Squamish Valley Music Festival

6. Shambhala, Salmo River Valley, BC

August 7 – 10
During this August weekend, the Salmo River Ranch turns into a temporary city of over 10,000 and is well worth the 655 km trek from Vancouver. Started in 1998, with around 500 attendees, the festival has grown into a highly anticipated event for the west coast electronic music scene. It sports almost an underground vibe, and prides itself on existing without corporate sponsorship and providing festival goers with amazing locally sourced art and organic food. The festival also features 6 unique stages, with themes created by their individual stage directors and aims to showcase the best in local and international EDM artists. This event is truly 4 days of “fun on the farm” with over 300 entertainers and free parking and camping options.

Photo by: Shambhala Music Festival/ OlivierGosselin.com/a>
Photo by: Shambhala Music Festival/ OlivierGosselin.com

5. MEME, Winnipeg MB

August 13 – 16
A truly unique festival experience, Manitoba Electronic Music Exhibition (MEME), is an annual event that celebrates international electronic music as well as digital arts and learning. The 4 day festival features free daytime concerts at Manitoba’s open air performance venue known as “The Cube” where the 100,000+ event attendees can enjoy a sample of house, techno, deep dub, psychedelic, world, nu-jazz, ambient and experimental sounds. The free concert series is followed nightly by world-class “After Cube” events (tickets required) that are promoted as “electronic music and multimedia extravaganzas” and are held at various venues across the city including the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the Pantages Playhouse.

Photo by: MEME
Photo by: MEME

4. IleSoniq, Montreal QC

August 14 & 15
Once again gracing the festival-famous event grounds of Parc Jean-Drapeau in Montreal, the 2nd annual IleSoniq is an electronic dance music fest that also offers up performances in hip hop, baile funk, house and most other electronic sub-genres. The electrifying 2-day event boasts over 50 acts set to perform on 3 stages, with an audience of around 17,500 per day. The 2015 lineup is one that you won’t want to miss, featuring Deadmau5, Azealia Banks, and Kiesza.

Photo by: IleSoniq/Susan Moss Photography
Photo by: IleSoniq/Susan Moss Photography

3. Interstellar Rodeo, Winnipeg MB

August 14 – 16
In its inaugural year, the Interstellar Rodeo is being held at The Forks in Winnipeg, and promises to deliver a one-of-a-kind “sophisticated” festival experience of unique music paired with fine wines and local food. The 1-stage event aims to keep things sweet, simple, and completely unforgettable, with a wine list curated specifically for each of the 25 performers. Headliners include Sinead O’Connor (Charles Smith 2012 Eve Chardonnay), Dwight Yoakam (Cameron Hughes Lot 456 2012 Tempranillo/Malbec/Grenache) and Blue Rodeo (Southbrook 2013 Transitions Chardonnay).

Brian Patterson Photos / Shutterstock.com
Brian Patterson Photos / Shutterstock.com

2. Riverfest, Elora ON

August 14 – 16
The 10,000+ attendance of this festival in Bissell Park on the banks of the Grand River is a far cry from the 900 patrons that graced the grounds for its inaugural run 7 years ago.  Since then, the event held annually on the 3rd weekend in August has expanded to host over 30 world-renowned entertainers, with Tokyo Police Club, the New Pornographers and Alan Doyle of Great Big Sea all scheduled to perform this year. The festival is about much more than just music, featuring a wide selection of food trucks, arts and crafts vendors and a bustling farmer’s market.

Photo by: Riverfest
Photo by: Riverfest

1. Time Festival, Toronto ON

August 15
This 1 day all-ages event at Garrison Commons in historic Fort York is a must if you’re in and around the Toronto area mid-August. The festival attracts lovers of all genres, presenting 11 acts that range from urban, alternative rock, dance and pop. The 2015 edition will feature Die Antwoord, Mac Demarco, Ariel Pink and Alison Wonderland.

Honorable Mentions: The Edmonton Folk Festival (Aug. 6-9) and Music in the Fields (Aug. 28-29) are also must-attend music events in Canada, but unfortunately, due to the overwhelming popularity of the festivals, 2015 tickets for both were  completely sold out at the time of writing this article.

Photo by: TIME Festival
Photo by: TIME Festival

The 24 Newest UNESCO World Heritage Sites

The ancient city of Ephesus in Turkey and the Blue and John Crow Mountains in Jamaica are just two of the 24 newly inscribed World Heritage sites approved by the 39th UNESCO committee in Bonn, Germany recently.  From ancient, archaeological sites to complex industrial systems and cultural landscapes, the 2015 list provides no shortage of exciting and intriguing travel ideas for the year, sure to peak even the most veteran travelers’ interests.

1. Aqueduct of Padre Tembleque Hydraulic System – Mexico

Constructed in the 16th century and located on the Central Mexican Plateau, this aqueduct was built with support from local indigenous communities.  Along with tanks, bridges and a water catchment area, this heritage canal system has the “highest single-level arcade ever built in an aqueduct”.

Photo by: UNESCO/Espacio de la Imagen/Edgar Valtiago
Photo by: UNESCO/Espacio de la Imagen/Edgar Valtiago

2. Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalú and Monreale – Italy

The nine structures included in this Arab-Norman Palermo are comprised of two palaces, three churches, a cathedral, a bridge, the Cefalù cathedral and the Monreale cathedral.  Located on the northern coast of Sicily, this heritage site, dating from the 12th century, depicts the relationships between the Western, Islamic and Byzantine cultures that eventually led to new spatial, structural and decorative concepts.

Arab-Norman Palermo and the Cathedral Churches of Cefalú and Monreale

3. Baekje Historic Areas – Republic of Korea

The Busosanseong Fortress and the royal palace at Wanggung-ri are among the eight archaeological sites that make up the Baekje Historic Areas.  Found in the mid-west region of the Republic of Korea, these sites, dating from 475 to 660 CE, are an accurate representation of the Baekje Kingdom, a time when the ancient kingdoms in Korea, China and Japan were sharing and exchanging thoughts and ideas on contemporary issues such as artistry, religion and technology.

Gongsanseong fortress Korea

4. Baptism Site “Bethany Beyond the Jordan” (Al-Maghtas) – Jordan

This heritage site, located on the eastern bank of the River Jordan, is believed to be the spot where Jesus of Nazareth was baptized by John the Baptist.  With multiple church and monastery remains, this archaeological site is a place of Christian pilgrimage and a testament to the Roman and Byzantine religious influence in the area.

Bethany Beyond the Jordan

5. Champagne Hillsides, Houses and Cellars – France

Already one of the most popular wine regions in the world, the Champagne Hillsides were given World Heritage designation due to its historical importance in the production of sparkling wines.  Since the early 17th century, these historic vineyards have understood the value of illustrating the process of champagne production and have become a household name in the wine and tourism industry.

Champagne hillsides france

6. Christiansfeld, a Moravian Church Settlement – Denmark

This town, a planned settlement of the Moravian Church, was intended to represent the Protestant urban ideal and so was constructed in its entirety around a central Church square.  Founded in 1773 and still used today by a community of the Moravian Church, this town is complete with simple and homogenous architecture, such as its yellow brick buildings with red tile roofs.

Christiansfeld denmark

7. Climats, terroirs of Burgundy – France

These delimited vineyard parcels, found south of Dijon, are an excellent representation of the ancient cultivation and production methods in place since the High Middle Ages.  Due to human cultivation and natural conditions, these parcels, located on the slopes of the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune, are now identified by the wine they produced.

Château du Clos de Vougeot Burgundy France

8. Cultural Landscape of Maymand – Iran (Islamic Republic of)

This heritage site of Maymand is a self-contained area located in the southern part of Iran’s central mountains.  UNESCO designated this area a heritage site because of the semi-nomadic pastoralists who live with their animals on mountain pastures, and relocate depending on the seasons.  The nomads live low in the valley during the winter months in unique cave dwellings, and live in temporary settlements higher up on the mountain during the spring and autumn months.

Photo by: Ngjyra
Photo by: Ngjyra

9. Diyarbakir Fortress and Hevsel Gardens Cultural Landscape – Turkey

Situated in the aptly-named Fertile Crescent, this city and its surrounding landscape has been given an World Heritage designation due to it being an important center throughout different time periods, from the Hellenistic period, to the Ottoman times and into the present.  The fortified city of Diyarbakir, along with the Hevsel Gardens, is comprised of an inner castle,  a 5.8 kilometer long wall, towers, gates, 63 inscriptions all from different periods and is located on the Upper Tigres River Basin.

Diyarbakir Fortress Turkey

10. Ephesus – Turkey

This World Heritage Site has long since drawn Pilgrims from all around the Mediterranean.  The ancient city of Ephesus, featuring successive Hellenistic and Roman settlements, is comprised of many excavated monuments and historical sites, and is a great example of a Roman port city.

Ephesus Turkey

11. Fray Bentos Cultural-Industrial Landscape – Uruguay

West of the town of Fray Bentos and situated on the Uruguay River, this site was built in order to process the meat that was produced on the nearby prairies.  This was given World Heritage status due to its excellent illustration on the process of meat production; its crucial location, industrial and residential buildings and social institutions ensure that this site of meat production was known on a global scale.

Matyas Rehak / Shutterstock.com
Matyas Rehak / Shutterstock.com

12. Great Burkhan Khaldun Mountain and its surrounding sacred landscape – Mongolia

Having long been a site of ancient shamanic and Buddhist practices, the Burkhan Khaldun, situated in the central part of the Khentii mountain chain in the north-east part of the country, has been a place of worship of the sacred mountains, rivers and ovoo-s (shamanic rock cairns) that make up the landscape.  Believed to be the place of Genghis Khan’s birth and burial, this site is crucial to the unification of the Mongol people and to the mountain worship prevalent in their culture.

mountain mongolia

13. Necropolis of Beth She’arim: A Landmark of Jewish Renewal – Israel

The series of catacombs that make up this heritage site are an important collection of Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew artworks and inscriptions.  Southeast of the city of Haifa, Beth She’arim was the primary Jewish burial place outside of Jerusalem and is an important testimony to ancient Judaism and to the Jewish renewal after 135 CE.

Beth She’arim Israel

14. Rjukan–Notodden Industrial Heritage Site – Norway

Using the natural mountainous landscape to its advantage, the Norsk-Hydro Company manufactured artificial fertilizer from nitrogen in the air and became an example of a new global industry in the early 20th century. The hydroelectric power plants and transport systems and towns included at the Rjukan-Notodden site show how this company used its industry, in combination with nature, to meet the Western world’s increasing demand for agricultural production.

Rjukan-Notodden Norway

15. Rock Art in the Hail Region of Saudi Arabia – Saudi Arabia

Petroglyphs and inscriptions on the rock face of this heritage site offer a glimpse into the passages of the ancient Arab populations across the Great Narfoud Desert.  These preserved depictions of human and animal figures show 10,000 years of history found in this great desert landscape in Saudi Arabia.

Photo by: saudi-archaeology
Photo by: saudi-archaeology

16. San Antonio Missions – United States of America

A great source of pride for Texans now and past are the five frontier mission complexes that make up this newly designated World Heritage site located in southern Texas.  Built by Franciscan missionaries in the 18th century, the San Antonio Missions are symbols of Spain’s colonization of the region and are the site of the historic 1836 Battle of the Alamo.

San Antonio Missions Conception

17. Singapore Botanical Gardens – Singapore

Used for both conservation and education, the Singapore Botanical Gardens, built in 1859, include many historical features that illustrate the development of the garden and its importance as a site for science and research.

Singapore Botanical Gardens

18. Sites of Japan’s Meiji Industrial Revolution: Iron and Steel, Shipbuilding and Coal Mining – Japan

Eleven properties make up this heritage site, situated in the southwest of Japan.  This site depicts the time in Japanese history when the country actively sought technology from both Europe and America and is considered the first successful transfer of Western industrialization to a non-Western nation.

Nirayama Reverbatory Furnaces Japan

19. Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus District with Chilehaus – Germany

Built on a narrow island in the Elbe River from 1885 to 1927 and partially rebuilt from 1949 to 1967, these two urban areas, centrally located in the port city of Hamburg, are examples of the effects of rapid international trade in the 19th and 20th centuries.  These two areas together are one of the largest historic ensembles of port warehouses in the world.

Speicherstadt Germany

20. Susa – Iran (Islamic Republic of)

These architectural monuments, depicting the nearly extinct Elamite, Persian and Parthian cultural traditions, are comprised of administrative, residential and palatial structures excavated in the south-west of Iran.  These archaeological sites illustrate settlements found in the area from the late 5th millennium BCE to the 13th century CE, successively.

Susa Iran

21. The Forth Bridge – United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The largest multi-span cantilever bridge, located across the estuary of the Forth River in Scotland, has earned World Heritage designation from UNESCO due to its innovative use of bridge design and construction.

The Forth Bridge UK

22. The Par Force Hunting Landscape in North Zealand – Denmark

The two hunting forests of Store Dyrehave and Gribskov, along with the hunting park of Jaegersborg Hegn/Jaegersborg Dyrehave, where Danish kings hunted with hounds until the end of the 16th century, have reached World Heritage status due to its demonstration of Baroque landscaping principles.

Photo by: .bastian (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo by: .bastian (Flickr) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

23. Tusi Sites- China

From the Yuan and Ming periods of Chinese civilization, the Tusi Sites depict the tribal domains whose chiefs were elected based on the Tusi system.  This system, in place from the 13th to the 20th century, rose in prominence due to its unification of national administration and its allowance of customs and culture from ethnic minorities.

Photo by: photo.navi
Photo by: photo.navi

24. Blue and John Crow Mountains – Jamaica

Jamaica’s first World Heritage designation is the unique and historically important mountainous region situated in the south-east of Jamaica.  Not only does this site contain many of the endemic plant species present in the Caribbean Islands, but it also provided refuge for both the indigenous Tainos and escaped African slaves known as Maroons.  Due to the isolated nature of these mountains, the refugees managed to resist the European colonial system, and in doing so, developed spiritual connections with the mountains that are still felt today.

Blue Mountains Jamaica

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants of 2015

Foodies Unite. The list of the world’s 50 Best Restaurants of 2015 was just released. It seems that Europe has dominated once again this year with a slew of restaurants from France, Spain and Italy rounding out the top 50. There were some newcomers to the list this year as well, including one from Russia and the United States. Read on to discover why these 50 restaurants were named the best in the world for 2015, and maybe book some dinner reservations at one of these hot spots on your next trip.

50. The French Laundry -Yountville, CA, USA

For more than two decades the French Laundry has been serving up delicious French-American inspired cuisine and shows no sign of slowing down. One unique claim to fame is that no ingredient is ever repeated twice on the same menu. Visitors should expect dishes such as oysters and pearls here.

Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com
Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock.com

49. Blue Hill at Stone Barns -Pocantico Hills, NY, USA

This is the first time this restaurant has been seen on this list but it certainly won’t be the last. With a farm to table outlook, this restaurant focuses on delivering locally sourced and grown food to diners. Diners won’t find any printed menus here; instead they are subject to a multi-taste menu which includes ever-changing dishes depending on the season.

Photo by: Blue Hill Farm
Photo by: Blue Hill Farm

48. Schloss Schauenstein -Furstenau, Switzerland

Romance meets exceptional cuisine here at this restaurant located in a castle in the Swiss Alps. Chef Andreas Caminada has been awarded three Michelin stars and is considered one of the best chefs in all of Europe. Modern French is the style of food and guests can expect simple and familiar ingredients bursting with aromas, textures and unbelievable flavor. The dining room with its grand marble floors and the extensive wine list make this an unforgettable experience.

Photo by: Andreas Caminada
Photo by: Andreas Caminada

47. Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée -Paris, France

Alain Ducasse has outdone himself once again with this sparkling dining room and unique menu based around healthy eating. The concept here is a menu based on a trilogy of fish, vegetables and cereal; produce that has been caught or grown in a sustainable and organic environment. The stainless steel shells that create the tables, the sparking chandelier and the first-class intriguing menu gets this restaurant an A+.

Photo by: YouTube/Alain Ducasse
Photo by: YouTube/Alain Ducasse

46. Restaurant André -Singapore

Although this restaurant is only five years old, it has taken Singapore and the world by storm with its incredible menu, dining area and uniqueness. Patrons can expect eight courses which reflect Chef André Chiang’s multi-culinary experience. The restaurant is located in a former shop house in China Town and features unusual art pieces and slick service.

Photo by: Foodcations
Photo by: Foodcations

45. Relae -Copenhagen, Denmark

This certified organic restaurant focuses less on elegant service and more on exceptional local food. Diners here will pour their own wine and help themselves to the cutlery in the table drawers. Don’t let that fool you though, the daily changing menu will entice and excite your palette. Using three or four ingredients Chef Christian Puglisi draws on his Italian background and combines that with a New Nordic style of food, creating dishes that look deceptively simple.

Photo by: Tumblr/Relae
Photo by: Tumblr/Relae

44. Maido -Lima, Peru

This restaurant is where you will find the perfect execution of Nikkei food, a blend of Peruvian-Japanese culture. A relatively simple looking restaurant, the focus is on the food here; offering a simple Japanese menu or a 15-course Nikkei menu. Patrons can sit up at the bar to watch the talented chefs’ work as they create dishes such as grilled octopus and confit of guinea pig with molle pepper.

Photo by: Maido
Photo by: Maido

43. Tickets -Barcelona, Spain

Tickets is not just a restaurant but a complete dining experience with high cuisine innovations combined with a fun and exciting atmosphere. This cinema-themed operation serves up an amazing combination of modern Spanish style cuisine blended with flavors from all over the world. Patrons here enjoy letting the staff pick their meals for them, in an atmosphere than can only be described as unique and amazing. It is no surprise this restaurant has made the list.

Photo by: Tickets
Photo by: Tickets

42. Boragó -Santiago, Chile

The emphasis here is sustainable and seasonal dining and with both the Pacific Ocean and the Andes at their fingertips; the local ingredients are never ending. Chef Rodolfo Guzmán is known as a pioneer of Chilean cuisine and can be known to switch up the menu halfway through the evening depending on the availability of local ingredients. Expect Chilean native ingredients combined with the European culinary skill, to create an unforgettable dining experience.

Photo by: Boragó
Photo by: Boragó

41. Maní -Sao Paulo, Brazil

This husband and wife team has done a brilliant job creating a homey, welcoming dining experience that is known for serving exceptional cuisine. Brazilian Born Rizzo Redondo recently won the title of World’ Best Female Chef and continues to create food based on her home roots, combined with her husband’s Spanish influence. Expect to see dishes that feature the catch of the day, foie gras and home-made flours and jams.

Photo by: Mani Manioca
Photo by: Mani Manioca

40. Per Se -New York City, USA

Since it opened in 2004, this restaurant has been on this list every single year and shows no sign of slowing down. The dining room with its impressive floor to glass windows overlooking Central Park sets the stage for an innovative and sophisticated menu. Seasonal American ingredients are often expressed in dishes that draw on French Cuisine, such as 100-day aged beef accompanied by tongue pirogi and borscht.

Photo by: Per Se
Photo by: Per Se

39. Quique Dacosta -Denia, Spain

Chef Quique Dacosta is truly one of the leaders of avant-garde cuisine in Spain and stays true to his roots, using only ingredients that are locally sourced within 75-km from the restaurant. Each dish is truly a work of art and incorporates a mirage of colors. The tasting menus vary in size but some have up to 30 dishes to try; giving patrons the experience of an unforgettable multi-sensory experience.

Photo by: Eye on Spain
Photo by: Eye on Spain

38. Amber -Hong Kong, China

The impressive wine list of over 1,100 wines and the elegant chandelier that features 4,320 bronze rods set the atmosphere for this exquisite French cuisine combined with Asian ingredients. Fish arrives daily and the chef Richard Ekkebus loves to combine the Pacific seafood with flavors from around the world. The finest meats, the finest wine pairings by an award-winning sommelier and a gorgeous atmosphere make Amber the place to be in Hong Kong.

Photo by: Amber
Photo by: Amber

37. Biko -Mexico City, Mexico

A trio of chefs from different backgrounds are creating innovative and fun foods with a big focus on creativity. By combining Spanish and Mexican flavors, this trio is breaking down culinary barriers and highlighting once forgotten ingredients. Visitors should expect dishes such as a cauliflower truffled soup topped with radish pickles and olive spheres or foie gras candy floss.

Photo by: Biko
Photo by: Biko

36. L’Astrance -Paris, France

This tiny Paris restaurant combines French cuisine with Far East flavors such as lemon grass, jasmine and daikon. There is no set menu here and diners simply choose the number of courses they want and the rest is up to chef Pascal Barbot and his team who send out surprise dishes. The wine list is all encompassing, the dining room is chic and modern and the experience is truly once-in-a-lifetime.

Photo by: European Trips
Photo by: European Trips

35. Quintonil -Mexico City, Mexico

With a strong commitment on reducing the ecological footprint of its food combined with a desire to create dishes based on fresh seasonal ingredients and forgotten herbs and grains; Quintonil is taking Mexico City by storm. This restaurant focuses on indigenous produce and aims to highlight fruit and vegetables on the menu, not just for their taste but for their nutritional value as well. Chef Jorge Vallejo makes his debut on the list this year but we guess it won’t be the last time.

Photo by: Quintonil
Photo by: Quintonil

34. Le Calandre -Rubano, Italy

Chef Max Alajmo became the youngest person ever to win three Michelin stars back in 2002 and has since evolved Le Calandre into an excellent restaurant serving modern Italian cuisine. Guests have the choice of three menus here; a classic menu, a more modern take and one that is in-between the two. Diners can expect a level of Italian dining that is hard to find anywhere else with dishes such as extra virgin olive oil risotto with capers, coffee and rose.

Photo by: Le Calandre
Photo by: Le Calandre

33. Aqua -Wolfsburg, Germany

The location itself makes this an unusual and interesting place to eat; Aqua is located on the edge of a theme park right next to the Volkswagen factory. Chef Sven Elverfeld inspires the reinvention of German peasant food in a modern and more global theme. This open-minded kitchen turns out dishes such as fresh local cheese with onion, vinegar and dark malted bread to yellow fin mackerel with guacamole, smoked corn foam and black quinoa.

Photo by: Aqua
Photo by: Aqua

32. Attica -Melbourne, Australia

The location might throw you for a loop as Attica is located deep within the suburbs of Southern Melbourne, but rest assured visitors to this restaurant are in for an unforgettable dining experience. Australian native ingredients are found more often than not on the plates and chef Ben Shewry isn’t afraid to experiment with new meats and spices. Along with the exceptional cuisine, expect a high entertainment factor with visits out to the garden and entertaining service staff.

Photo by: Visit Melbourne
Photo by: Visit Melbourne

31. Restaurant Frantzén -Stockholm, Sweden

Known all over the world for its modern Scandinavian cooking, this restaurant features an open kitchen, seasonal produce grown in its gardens and a bright but intimate dining room. Chef Björn Frantzén designs the flavorful menus with not just taste in mind but presentation as well. The well known signature dish ‘satio tempestas’ changes daily and can contain more than 40 different seasonal vegetables cooked in a variety of ways; all from the garden on-site.

Photo by: Flickr/Frantzen
Photo by: Flickr/Frantzen

30. Vendôme -Bergisch Gladbach, Germany

Pushing the boundaries on traditional German cuisine has ensured that this restaurant get its name well known throughout the world. Drawing on French, Asian and New Nordic influences, Chef Joachim Wissler creates innovative dishes such as a two-part suckling pig dish complete with green and yellow curry sauces. Polished service, views overlooking the bay and a wine list with over 900 choices round out this incredible experience.

Photo by: Vendome
Photo by: Vendome

29. Nihonryori RyuGin -Tokyo, Japan

This intimate 18-seat restaurant looks to present seasonal ingredients through a traditional multi-course Japanese style menu; while introducing new and modern ideas. Patrons can expect dishes with seven different kinds of Japanese fish, complimented by a French leaning wine list. Chef Seiji Yamamoto creates the daily menus based on what is available at the morning markets and has created his own line of teas to compliment the food.

Photo by: RyuGin
Photo by: RyuGin

28. The Test Kitchen -Cape Town, South Africa

Rather than just a restaurant, The Test Kitchen is truly an experience packed full of imagination and artistic flair. The menus are a combination of international techniques, flavors and ingredients and more often than not the meals are turned into works of art. The massive open kitchen allows diners to be part of the process so expect the unexpected when you visit The Test Kitchen.

Photo by: The Test Kitchen
Photo by: The Test Kitchen

27. Piazza Duomo -Alba, Italy

Alba is known all over the world for its truffles and elegant wines and chef Enrico Crippa certainly makes full use of the surrounding natural resources. The approach here is modern Italian mixed with an influence of world-wide flavors and classics are often paired with more daring choices such as olives made with minced veal. The luxurious seasonal white truffle menu is a favorite here and gives the chef an outlet to highlight the region’s most famous export.

Photo by: Piazza Duomo
Photo by: Piazza Duomo

26. Alinea -Chicago, USA

This small Chicago restaurant is not only known for its unconventional approach to food but for its restaurant experience that is like no other. From mood lighting that changes the colors of the walls to expertly trained staff that can read tables and customers unlike any other in the industry, to edible balloons; patrons here will be in a world of delight. This truly personal experience will unfold in front of your over several hours and can only be described as truly remarkable and unforgettable.

Photo by: Alinea
Photo by: Alinea

25. Fäviken -Jarpen, Sweden

It is the world’s most isolated restaurant; Fäviken can only serve 12 diners a night and is only open 34 weeks of the year. The multi-course menu focuses on ingredients that can be forged, hunted or farmed on the 24,000 acre hunting estate in which the restaurant is housed on. Traditional farmhouse cooking techniques are put into place to create irresistible flavors and unique dishes such as scallop cooked over burning juniper branches. The dining room with its slabs of meat and wolf skins create a most memorable dining experience.

Photo by: 90Plus.com
Photo by: 90Plus.com

24. Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet -Shanghai, China

A trip here is certainly unlike any other restaurant experience out there. Guests are driven to Ultraviolet in a mini bus as the location is one of the best kept secrets in this city. Only 10 diners at a time are welcomed into a room with white walls, a white table and 10 white chairs. What follows is a dining experience where each dish is eaten with a different soundtrack and the walls and table are transformed with pictures and film. The 10 course meal is full of delicate but flavorful interesting combinations of flavors.

Photo by: UltraViolet
Photo by: UltraViolet

23. White Rabbit -Moscow, Russia

This Alice in Wonderland themed restaurant features outstanding views of the historic center of Moscow, along with an exceptional menu featuring modern Russian dishes with international inspiration. Chef Valdimir Mukhin focuses on blending Russian produce with luxury ingredients producing meals such as rabbit mini cabbage rolls in foie gras sauce with potato crisps and truffle juice.

Photo by: White Rabbit
Photo by: White Rabbit

22. Nahm -Bangkok, Thailand

Although this restaurant is located in a hotel, there is nothing standard about this dining room. While Chef David Thompson is from Australia, he has taken the Thai world by storm and become an expert at this multi-faceted cuisine. Expect a wide range of traditional Thai cooking here and a tasting menu that will knock your socks off. Thompson loves to play with flavors and spice and most likely the main meal will include something of high spice level. It may not take you hours to complete a meal here but guests will leave feeling like they just ate one of the best meals of their lives.

Photo by: Como Hotels
Photo by: Como Hotels

21. Le Chateaubriand -Paris, France

This restaurant has been a leading force in the revolution of bistros in Paris. Gone are the days of white table cloths and overly expensive meals, they have been replaced by more relaxed atmospheres and excellent cuisine at affordable prices. The no frills dining room, the fixed menu written on the blackboards and the chef’s colorful history set the stage for a perfect dining experience. The food is a combination of French, Asian and Latin America and the lineup changes daily.

Photo by:  Marika Simon
Photo by:
Marika Simon

20. The Ledbury -London, UK

Although Chef Brett Graham originally hails from Newcastle Australia, you wouldn’t know it based on the menu that features the best of British produce along with local meats. The food here is refined, yet gutsy and the service impeccable which is why so many regulars appear to make this there favorite place to eat. One might even find out that the beautifully smoked venison on their plate was bagged by the chef himself.

Photo by: The Ledbury
Photo by: The Ledbury

19. Azurmendi -Larrabetzu, Spain

This dining experience starts when you arrive at the eco-friendly glass building and are immediately taken on a tour of the grounds, greenhouse and gardens. The open kitchen which leads to the dining room sets the stage for a memorable dinner. Chef Eneko Atxa loves to push boundaries and discover new innovative cooking techniques. Guest will experience food such as a truffled egg which is cooked inside out. Invigorating flavors, the utmost creativity and a passionate chef await visitors at Azurmendi.

Photo by: Azurmendi
Photo by: Azurmendi

18. Le Bernardin -New York City, USA

This restaurant was started in Paris in 1972, then it moved to New York in 1986 and has had the same famous head chef since 1994. Needless to say it has won numerous awards, been the favorite seafood restaurant of New York for decades and continues to amaze guests with its spectacular raw fish dishes. Traditional French cuisine meets skillful Japanese techniques in this example of extraordinary dining.

Photo by: Eric Ripert
Photo by: Eric Ripert

17. Arzak -San Sebastian, Spain

The father daughter team of Juan Mari Arzak and Elena Arzak Espina seem almost unstoppable in conquering the culinary world in this region that is full of creativity and fertility. Juan Mari Arzak is known for having pioneered modern Basque cuisine and they have combined local flavors with international sauces and compliments. Visitors here should expect a modern twist on all of their favorite local cuisine.

Photo by: Juan Mari Arzak
Photo by: Juan Mari Arzak

16. Pujol -Mexico City, Mexico

Pujol is consistently rated as one of the top 20 restaurants in the world and is known as the very best in Mexico. Determination to use native ingredients and modern cooking techniques create unusual flavors, while inventing new dishes and recreating the old has given this chef a leg up over others. The main focus here is the attention that is paid to making sure each and every last detail of a dish is perfect, and each flavor is exposed to its finest.

Photo by: Pujol
Photo by: Pujol

15. Steirereck -Vienna, Austria

Chef Heinz Reitbauer aims to create the very finest of contemporary Austrian cuisine in a relaxed, chic setting and he does so quite memorably. He is in fact known for his cutting edge techniques and using the finest ingredients from his hometown. Many of the ingredients actually come from his family’s own farmstead. Expect innovative dishes such as the freshwater Char cooked in beeswax with yellow carrot, pollen and sour cream.

Photo by: Steirereck
Photo by: Steirereck

14. Astrid y Gastón -Lima, Peru

This restaurant coexists with a bar, experimental herb garden and development kitchen in a deprived area of Lima but don’t let that stop you from visiting. Take a trip down memory lane with a menu that tells the story of each individual dish and how they relate to growing up in Peru. The dishes use ingredients from all over this rich diverse country and one certainly gets a taste of Peruvian history at this restaurant.

Photo by: Astrid y Gastón
Photo by: Astrid y Gastón

13. Asador Etxebarri -Atxonodo, Spain

Chefs flock from all over the world to see Chef Victor Arguinzoniz in action over his wood grill, as he is hailed as the founding father of creative barbecue in Europe. Ingredients here are simple and fresh, with many that have been grown, picked and butchered by the chef himself. Everything on the menu hits the wood grill and has the delicate taste of smoke throughout, creating a simple yet delicious and exceptional experience.

Photo by: Naoyuki Honda
Photo by: Naoyuki Honda

12. L’Arpège -Paris, France

This restaurant is taking vegetables to a whole new level and making them the forefront of an incredible menu. Think beetroot tartar instead of the traditional beef tartar and an emphasis on ingredients such as grapefruit, almonds and sweet peas. Considered a culinary genius, Chef Alain Passard creates sensational tasting food with a contemporary French feeling.

Photo by: Arpege
Photo by: Arpege

11. Mirazur -Menton, France

Perched on a hillside overlooking the sea with floor to ceiling glass windows, this restaurant is big on highlighting local seafood. Pairing that seafood with herbs, flowers, fruits and vegetables that are grown in the garden to create exceptional dishes is the primary approach here. Innovating cooking techniques, artfully presented plates and a combination of French, Italian and Argentinean flavors make this dining experience amazing.

Photo by: Mirazur
Photo by: Mirazur

10. Gaggan -Bangkok, Thailand

Progressive Indian is the style of food here in this downtown Bangkok restaurant. The approach taken by Chef Gaggan Anand is to take street dishes and deconstruct them, creating new innovative menu items without losing the flavors. This restaurant also features liquid nitrogen, smoke and dehydrated ingredients to give additional texture and flavor to its dishes, as well as adding a little bit of dinner theater.

Photo by: Gaggan
Photo by: Gaggan

9. D.O.M -Sao Paulo, Brazil

This is one of the most expensive restaurants in Brazil but considering that many of the ingredients come from deep within the interior of the Amazon, that’s no surprise. Chef Alex Atala is known for searching out new ingredients and bringing them back to his restaurant for diners to try. The dining room is formal, yet relaxed and the emphasis here is on reshaping Brazilian food and convincing others to use the natural resources that are so plentiful.

Photo by: Luis Balboa Coñoen
Photo by: Luis Balboa Coñoen

8. Narisawa -Tokyo, Japan

This restaurant is truly a representation of the chef, the landscape and his love for the natural world. Although Japanese products are the focal point here, there is a strong influence of French cooking. Known internationally for being one of the best restaurants in the world, Chef Yoshihiro Narisawa takes great pride in his thoughtfully constructed food and wine list. It may be in fact the best place to appreciate the wine making of Japan.

Photo by: Narisawa
Photo by: Narisawa

7. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal -London, UK

Less than five years old this restaurant has made leaps and bounds, becoming a restaurant that recreates British culinary history. Forgotten dishes are brought back to life and reinvented using modern cooking techniques and present day ingredients. The dining experience is not thwarted by theatrics or entertainment; instead they let the flavors speak for themselves.

Photo by: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Photo by: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

6. Mugaritz -San Sebastian, Spain

This dining experience is more of a journey through food rather than just a sit down restaurant with set menus. Guests here will experience 24 individually tailored courses based on their dietary needs and wants. It is not just the flavors here that are important to Chef Andoni Luis Aduriz but the smells and textures he provides in his dishes. Edible cutlery and centerpieces along with the breathtaking scenery from the small wooden dining room will only make the experience that much more unique.

Photo by: Mugaritz
Photo by: Mugaritz

5. Eleven Madison Park -New York City, USA

Walking into this restaurant one might think that it appears quite grand, formal and perhaps a bit stuffy but one would be wrong. It is indeed playful and interactive from the service to the food itself. Co-owners Daniel Humm and Will Guidara have done a remarkable job in running both the back and front of house in the best ways possible, thus creating an unforgettable dining experience. Tasting menu’s frequently feature New York’s agricultural bounty but this duo has been known to tailor dishes specific to each guest individually.

Photo by: Fresh Local and Best
Photo by: Fresh Local and Best

4. Central -Lima, Peru

This is a whole new dining experience as the chefs take guests on a vertical tour of Peru through food.  The tasting menu features ingredients sourced at various altitudes, starting from 25 meters below to 4,200 meters above sea level. Diners are faced with ingredients found and tasted nowhere else in the world as well as being treated to food grown in the urban gardens onsite. There is a true sense of dedication here to discovering new local ingredients and how to best use them in the dishes.

Photo by: Central
Photo by: Central

3. Noma -Copenhagen, Denmark

Noma has been open since 2003 and is hailed as one of the most influential restaurants of the century, and thus it is no surprise to see it at the top of this list. The focus here is creating dishes based on what’s in season and playing with techniques such as pickling and fermenting. The cuisine style appears to be more of an interpretation of Nordic food and Chef René Redzepi and his teams are known for their ability to assimilate culinary cultures other than their own.

Photo by: Wikipedia
Photo by: Wikipedia

2. Osteria Francescana -Modena, Italy

At 20 years old, this restaurant and its chef have nailed down impeccable service and food. Chef Massimo Bottura is internationally known around the world but remains true to his Italian roots in his cooking. The menu is loaded with Italian classics such as risotto cooked with veal jus, along with many classics that have a unique twist. Local, seasonal ingredients are used, the wine program is impeccable and the atmosphere sets the stage for a perfect dining experience.

Osteria Francescana
Photo by: Bucketlist Blog

1. El Celler de Can Roca -Girona, Spain

The trio of the Roca brothers who collectively run this restaurant have certainly not forgotten their humble roots. The dining experience in the glass-walled dining room complete with an innovative menu, delicious wine pairings and a soothing atmosphere makes this the number one restaurant in the world this year. Add in the fact that this team does everything to educate and inspire the team they lead through unusual initiatives, including a restaurant tour in 2014 across the Southern United States and Latin America; and it is easy to understand why they are number one.

Photo by: El Celler de Can Roca
Photo by: El Celler de Can Roca

50 States in Famous Landmarks

From coast to coast the United States is brimming with unique, popular and touching landmarks. Whether they are man built, natural or even an entire city; there is no shortage of diversity in this country. From the highest mountain peak in the country to the launch of every US human space mission; here are the top landmarks that represent each state:

Alabama: Edmund Pettus Bridge

This bridge is located in Selma, Alabama and named after a former Confederate brigadier general who also led the Alabama Ku Klux Klan. The bridge was also the site of the famous Selma to Montgomery marches as well as ‘Bloody Sunday’, an incident where armed police officers attacked peaceful protesters with Billy clubs and tear gas. There is currently a campaign to change the name of the bridge.

Edmund Pettus Bridge

Alaska: Mt. McKinley

It is the highest mountain peak in the United States and very well recognized around the world. 58% of climbers who attempt the summit make it to the top, but the mountain has claimed the lives of over 100 people in its history.

Mt. McKinley

Arizona: Grand Canyon

This steep sided canyon that was carved from the Colorado River is visited by over five million tourists every year. The Grand Canyon one of the seven natural wonders of the world, one of the most photographed places in the US and boasts incredible sunsets that turn the red rocks into brilliant displays of color.

Horseshoe Bend

Arkansas: Hot Springs National Park

Nicknamed ‘The American Spa’ Hot Springs National Park surrounds the north end of the city of Hot Springs. History tells us that a town was built up around the hot springs to provide services for health seekers. It also happens to be the smallest national park in the US by area but one of the most easily available to visitors.

Hot Springs National Park

California: Golden Gate Bridge

This bridge is often referred to as the most beautiful bridge in the entire world. The bridge isn’t golden in color like you may expect but is actually bright orange, a color used to stick out during the foggy days. It opened in 1937 and spans the Golden Gate strait; the three mile long channel between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

Golden Gate Bridge

Colorado: Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park features awe-inspiring mountain views, varied climates and environments, mountain lakes and a plethora of wildlife. Visitors discovered this over 11,000 years ago and while the weather has wreaked havoc on the park, it remains ever popular and just as beautiful.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Connecticut: Mystic Seaport

Located 10 miles east of New London in the Mystic County Region of Connecticut is one of America’s first and largest living history museums. The museum consists of a village with more than 60 historic buildings, ships and 17 acres of exhibits depicting coastal life in New England in the 19th century.

EQRoy / Shutterstock.com
EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

Delaware: Caesar Rodney Statue

Delaware’s most cherished patriot stands tall in downtown Wilmington atop his horse. Rodney is famous for riding his horse to Philadelphia in order to cast a crucial vote that eventually paved the way for the Declaration of Independence.

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

Florida: Kennedy Space Center

Located just between Jacksonville and Miami is the launch site for every single human US space flight since 1968. The visitors center here offers a look behind the scenes into the life of an astronaut, let’s visitors feel the thrill of a takeoff and perhaps even meet an astronaut.

Songquan Deng / Shutterstock.com
Songquan Deng / Shutterstock.com

Georgia: Ebenezer Baptist Church

Before Martin Luther King became America’s civil rights leader he was baptized right here in the Ebenezer Baptist Church. This is also the church where King began preaching alongside his father after being ordained at the age of 19. The church is located in the city of Atlanta.

Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock.com
Darryl Brooks / Shutterstock.com

Hawaii: USS Arizona Memorial

This memorial is situated in Pearl Harbor and pays tribute to the 1,102 soldiers who lost their lives during the fatal attack in World War II. The memorial includes a powerful film, a narrated boat ride out to the site of the attack and a guided tour of the USS Bowfin Submarine.

USS Arizona Memorial

Idaho: Middle Fork of the Salmon River

Every year approximately 10,000 people float down this 104 mile free flowing river in what is thought to be one of the most scenic and best places to white water raft in the US. It is located 20 miles Northwest of Stanley and includes over 300 rapids and 6 natural hot springs.

Middle Fork of the Salmon River

Illinois: Willis Tower

Downtown Chicago is the home of the Willis Tower, the world’s tallest tower when it was built in 1973. Although taller towers have now surpassed it, the Willis Tower remains one of the tallest in America and thousands flock to its observation decks and glass boxes that hang off the side of the building each year to get a view of the Windy City.

Willis Tower
Songquan Deng / Shutterstock.com

Indiana: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Located in Speedway, Indiana, only 6 miles from downtown, this landmark is home to the famous Indianapolis 500 race. Originally constructed in 1909 it is the highest capacity sports venue in the world, seating up to 400,000 fans. NASCAR fans also come here to watch the annual 400-mile Sprint Cup point race.

Action Sports Photography / Shutterstock.com
Action Sports Photography / Shutterstock.com

Iowa: Iowa State Fair

This internationally acclaimed state fair draws up to a million visitors each year. It is held in Des Moines and runs for a total of eleven days. Popular attractions include the double Ferris wheel, the butter cow sculpture and one the largest livestock shows in the world.

Photo by: Iowa State Fair
Photo by: Iowa State Fair

Kansas: Dodge City

The city is famous for being a wild frontier town of the Old West with a violent history (ever heard the phrase “get the hell outta Dodge”?). It had more famous gun fighters than any other city, including Wyatt Earp, one of the most notorious and deadliest gunmen of the time. Today visitors can ride in a stagecoach, watch a re-created gun fight and see interesting artifacts.

Dodge City

Kentucky: Churchill Downs

The city of Louisville comes alive with excitement the first Saturday in May each year as the city plays host to the most exciting two minutes in sports. The Kentucky Derby was started back in 1875 and is now attended by over 170,000 people. This annual stake race for 3-year old thoroughbred horses takes place at Churchill Downs race track and is known throughout the world.

Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock.com
Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock.com

Louisiana: The French Quarter

This is the oldest and most famous neighborhood in New Orleans that is host to the famous Mardi Gras celebration. Many of the architectural gems here were built before New Orleans became a part of the United States. This cultural hub is responsible for much of the city’s tourism.

pisaphotography / Shutterstock.com
pisaphotography / Shutterstock.com

Maine: Portland Headlight

This historic lighthouse is located in Cape Elizabeth and was completed in 1971, making it the oldest of its kind in the state. George Washington ordered the construction of the lighthouse after a tragedy claimed two lives due to the lack of lighthouses along the rocky coast.

Portland Headlight

Maryland: Fort McHenry

This star shaped fort was the inspiration for Francis Scott Key to write “The Star Spangled Banner”. It was built to defend the port of Baltimore and in 1814 it did just that when the British bombed the fort for 25 hours. The American’s defended the fort and the “The Star Spangled Banner” was created.

Fort McHenry

Massachusetts: Fenway Park

This state is brimming with famous landmarks but Fenway Park may just be the most recognizable. It is the oldest stadium in the MLB, having been built in 1912 and has undergone many renovations since. Known for its quirky features such as ‘Pesky’s Pole and The Green Monster’, fans fly from all over the world just to experience this historic stadium.

Joyce Vincent / Shutterstock.com
Joyce Vincent / Shutterstock.com

Michigan: The Henry Ford Museum

This large history museum is unique in the design, which feature exhibits both inside and out. Located in metro Detroit this museum features an expansive range of machinery, vehicles and exhibits including John F. Kennedy’s presidential limousine and the Rosa Parks bus.

Henry Ford Museum

Minnesota: Mall of America

Located in the suburbs of Bloomington lies the Mall of America; a mall that is home to 40 million visitors annually, the most in the world. Along with over 400 stores the mall is also home to Nickelodeon Universe, a theme park complete with roller coasters and mini-golf. A sizable aquarium is also located inside.

IVY PHOTOS / Shutterstock.com
IVY PHOTOS / Shutterstock.com

Mississippi: Mississippi River

This river is one of the world’s most major river systems in terms of size, habitat diversity and biological productivity. Native Americans formed communities along the river and as time passed the River was everything from a barrier to a route for travel and trade.

Mississippi River

Missouri: Gateway Arch

The Gateway Arch stands 630 feet tall, making it the tallest man-made monument in the United States. Located in St Louis the arch has become the centerpiece for the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. The arch draws over four million visitors each year with about a million making their way to the top.

Gateway Arch

Montana: Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park is partly in Canada and partly in the United States. It encompasses over a million acres and in Montana visitors will be treated to spectacular lakes and rugged mountains. Native Americans were the first to arrive in this area and the park puts forth a big effort in teaching visitors about their ancestors.

Glacier National Park

Nebraska: Chimney Rock

This unique rock formation in Morrill Country can be seen for miles. It rises nearly 300 feet above the surrounding river valley and during the mid 19th century it served as a landmark along the Oregon Trail. The rock has been designated a National Historic Site and even had its place on a quarter that was released in 2006.

Chimney Rock

Nevada: Las Vegas Strip

This 4.2 mile stretch of Vegas is famous for its infinite number of casinos, hotels and world famous resorts. At night the strip is lit up like no other place on this planet. The ever evolving skyline and modernization of the hotels and casinos makes it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world.

Las Vegas Nevada

New Hampshire: Mount Washington

It is the highest peak in the Northeastern United States and famous for dangerous, erratic weather. The Mount Washington Cog Railway takes visitors to the top in a picturesque climb, aboard the second steepest track railway in the world. The observatory at the top doubles as the weather station and can be accessed by car, train or hiking trails.

New Hampshire Mount Washington

New Jersey: Atlantic City Boardwalk

This boardwalk was the first boardwalk to ever open in America in 1870 and was constructed to help keep sand out of the hotel lobbies. It has served as the inspiration behind the board game ‘Monopoly’ and now serves as a home to many casinos along the beach.

Andrew F. Kazmierski / Shutterstock.com
Andrew F. Kazmierski / Shutterstock.com

New Mexico: Carlsbad Caverns

Carlsbad Caverns National Park houses the world’s largest collection of caves, including the Big Room which is the largest natural limestone chamber in the site and features eerie glowing colors. The unique stalactites featured throughout the caves attract visitors from all over the world.

Carlsbad Caverns

New York: Statue of Liberty

One of the most well-known landmarks across the world, the Statue of Liberty is located on Liberty Island in the New York Harbor. The statue represents freedom and was a gift from France. It was this iconic landmark that many immigrants saw first as they entered the United States to start their new lives.

Statue of Liberty

North Carolina: Wright Brothers Memorial

This 60 foot memorial that commemorates the Wright’s first flight in 1903 sits atop Kill Devil Hill in the town of Kill Devil Hills. The visitor’s center is home to a museum featuring actual tools the Wright Brothers used as well as a full scale model of their 1902 glider.

Wright Brothers Memorial

North Dakota: Painted Canyon

This overlook in the North Dakota Badlands gives visitors the opportunity to take in the myriad of color of flat desert land mixed with petrified wood and rock formations. In 1883 future US president Theodore Roosevelt visited this spot to hunt Bison and immediately fell in love with the west.

Painted Canyon

Ohio: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum

In the heart of Cleveland lies a tribute to rock and roll’s most legendary artists and producers. The exhibits span a total of five floors with some of the most iconic and impressive artifacts, including a wall with every inductee’s signature. In addition there are an on-going slew of temporary and ever changing exhibits to discover.

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

Oklahoma: Oklahoma City National Memorial

The Oklahoma bombing in 1995 is never far from the minds of residents in this state. This significant landmark honors those who suffered and who were affected by the bombing. The memorial includes a survivor’s wall and tree, reflecting pool and field of empty chairs.

Oklahoma City National Memorial

Oregon: Crater Lake

The deep blue color, the clarity of the water and depth of the water all make Crater Lake National Park an amazing natural landmark in this state. Located in Klamath county the lake was formed about 7,700 years ago when the volcano Mount Mazama collapsed. An interesting fact is that there are no rivers flowing in or out of the lake, it gets all of its water from the rain and snow.

Crater Lake

Pennsylvania: The Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell is located in Philadelphia’s Liberty Bell Center right downtown. This iconic symbol of freedom was thought to be rung during the public reading of the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Liberty Bell

Rhode Island: The Breakers

Located in Newport, this stunning 70-room mansion was built in 1883 by American millionaire Cornelius Vanderbilt. The mansion overlooks the Atlantic Ocean on 13 acres of land and is now rumored to be worth over $50 million USD.

Felix Lipov / Shutterstock.com
Felix Lipov / Shutterstock.com

South Carolina: Fort Sumter

Located in the Charleston Harbor, Fort Sumter is a sea fort that was the birthplace of the American Civil War. Visitors will start their tour at Liberty Square in downtown Charleston and then take a guided boat tour out to the fort. Relive the history of the start of the Civil War by a land tour as well.

Fort Sumter

South Dakota: Mount Rushmore

This national memorial is a gigantic sculpture carved into the granite face of Mount Rushmore. The 60 foot sculptures are the four heads of the US Presidents; Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln. It took 14 years and over 400 people to complete the sculptures and today it remains one of the top tourist draws in the state.

Mount Rushmore

Tennessee: Ryman Auditorium

Originally opened as a church, this 2,362-seat live performance venue is where the Grand Ole Opery was born. The auditorium is located right in the heart of downtown Nashville and is known for hosting extremely talented artists who perform here including Dolly Parton, Neil Young and Johnny Cash.

Ryman Auditorium

Texas: The Alamo

Visitors can relive the battle between Mexican forces and American folk heroes such as Davy Crockett at the grounds of this former church. Located in San Antonio the Alamo is truly a symbol of Texas independence as the battle cry ‘Remember the Alamo’ was used in other battles to reach victory.

The Alamo

Utah: Arches National Park

Arches National Park is located in Eastern Utah houses over 2,000 natural sandstone arches including the most famous one, the “Delicate Arch”. The park is located on the Colorado River and visitors are encouraged to hike, camp and bike throughout. Since 1977 forty-three arches are known to have collapsed.

Arches National Park

Vermont: Covered Bridges

There are more covered bridges in this state per square mile than anywhere else in the world, a whopping 107 of them to be exact. Northfield Falls is the best area to check out numerous bridges within a short distance of one another. The bridges were all covered as a practical measure of dealing with the weather and are all protected by the state’s board of historic sites.

Covered Bridges

Virginia: Monticello

The home of America’s third president, Thomas Jefferson is located just outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. Visitors can step inside and explore the home of the principal author of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson started building Monticello when he was just 26 years old and owned the house right up until his death.

Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com
Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock.com

Washington: The Space Needle

In downtown Seattle the Space Needle offers the best views of the city either from the 520 foot high observation deck or the rotating restaurant. The Space Needle was built for the 1962 World’s Fair and continues to attract visitors that enjoy amazing views of Mount Rainier National Park, Lake Union and the city.

The Space Needle

West Virginia: New River Gorge Bridge

For many years this bridge was the world’s longest steel single-span arch bridge and is crossed by an average of 16,200 motorists each day. It also plays host to the annual ‘Bridge Day’ where base jumpers and abseilers come to jump off the side of the bridge legally for one day only. A visitor’s center and staircase provides scenic outlooks for visitors.

New River Gorge Bridge

Wisconsin: Wisconsin Dells

The entire city of Wisconsin Dells is in fact the landmark in this state. Hailed as ‘the waterpark capital of the world’, there is no shortage of fun here. Indoor waterparks, outdoor waterparks, amusement parks, museums and scenic tours are just a slice of what awaits visitors to this gorgeous city.

Keith Homan / Shutterstock.com
Keith Homan / Shutterstock.com

Wyoming: Old Faithful

In Yellowstone National Park, Old Faithful has been around since 1870. It is a cone geyser that erupts every 63 minutes, making it one of the most predictable geographical features on earth. It was the first geyser to ever have a name in the national park and shares the park with 2/3rds of the geysers in the world.

Old Faithful