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Roadside Motels You’ll Want to Stay In

Roadside motels have gotten swanky, new retro makeovers you’ve got to see to believe.

Amigo Motor Lodge
Amigo Motor Lodge in Salida, Colorado may be more than 60 years old, but modern furnishings and clean design tell a different story. The property was renovated in 2016 to create spaces you want to spend time in, not simply spaces to pass the time in between activities. Look for flat-screen TVs, natural Baltic Birch bed frames and Malin+Goetz bath products, as well as colorful accents with a decidedly Southwestern vibe. The property currently has 15 guest rooms but is ever-growing and plans to add renovated Airstream trailers and a yurt.

Sound View Greenport
Overlooking the Long Island Sound in North Fork, New York, the Sound View Greenport dates back to 1953. This 55-room roadside motel received a facelift last year, bringing new life to a dilapidated property in a breezy seaside town. Set on a quarter-mile of private beach, Sound View Greenport boasts bright, airy rooms, modern furnishings, and luxurious amenities, like Malin+Goetz bath products. The property even attracted the talents of an award-winning chef from New York City to head up the on-site restaurant, The Halyard.

The Astro Motel
Just a stone’s throw from downtown Santa Rosa, California, The Astro Motel is a hip 34-room motel that delights with midcentury furnishings, a colorful interior courtyard garden and modern artwork. Guest room doors in vintage shades of turquoise and pumpkin welcome those eager to begin their stay at this thoughtfully renovated circa 1963 motor lodge. Set in a leading cycling destination and just minutes from The Santa Rosa Creek Trail, The Astro Motel caters to cyclists by making Shinola Bikes available for rental on-site.

Austin Motel
The historic 41-room Austin Motel in Austin, Texas has been in operation since 1938, but it was the swanky makeover the motel received in 2017 by Bunkhouse that gave the Austin Motel a hip, new vibe. Taking care to preserve the eclectic feel and midcentury design, Bunkhouse freshened up the motel with playful furnishings and bright pops of yellow and orange. The new pool bar and deck around the 1950s-style kidney-shaped pool are popular gathering spots at the motel. A reimagined diner, Joann’s Fine Foods, will open up this summer.

Beck’s Motor Lodge
When Beck’s Motor Lodge opened its doors in The Castro district of San Francisco in 1958, rooms cost just $5 per night. A lot of changes have taken place since then, including a major renovation in 2017 that gave the motel a modern midcentury makeover. Today, guest rooms boast rain showerheads, plush bedding and flat-screen TVs. In the morning and evening, head up to the rooftop sundeck to watch the fog roll in. Enjoy free parking at the boutique motel and easy walking to cozy restaurants, like Kitchen Story and Harvey’s.

Vagabond Hotel
In December 1953, The Vagabond in Miami was born, quickly gaining acclaim as a hangout for Rat Packers, like Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. Unfortunately, The Vagabond began to fall onto hard times in the 1960s. A 2014 overhaul of this 53-room motel returned the glitz and glamour to this storied property, bringing together streamlined midcentury design features, bright pops of color and retro-chic amenities. Set in Miami’s MiMo Historic District, take a stroll along Biscayne Boulevard to explore the vibrant revival of this section of town.

Calistoga Motor Lodge & Spa
The Calistoga Motor Lodge & Spa in California is a self-proclaimed ode to the Great American Road Trip. Built in the 1940s, this roadside classic received new life in 2017 thanks to a renovation that freshened up the 50-room motel with midcentury modern furnishings and playful throwback amenities, like hula hoops, jump ropes, even Polaroid cameras. The renovation added three geothermal pools fed by Calistoga’s natural mineral hot springs, as well as a blissful mix-your-own-mud bar at the spa to detoxify after a day out in the vineyards.

Roadrunner Lodge Motel
The Roadrunner Lodge Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico is a delightful slice of Americana set along Historic Route 66. Dubbed the “Heart of the Mother Road,” you’ll find plenty of iconic Route 66 attractions in Tucumcari, including this vintage motel, which was originally two separate properties. Today, you’ll be treated to modern conveniences, like organic PAYA bath products, combined with a decidedly midcentury modern vibe. Hits from the 1960s, even radio commercials, are piped into the lobby to further the retro feel at the Roadrunner Lodge Motel.

Unscripted Durham
A former 1960s motor lodge in North Carolina, the Jack Tar Motor Lodge received new life in mid-2017 as Unscripted Durham, a 74-room boutique hotel with a midcentury modern vibe, a swanky rooftop pool and a retro poolside lounge. Guest rooms boast sleek designs with pops of bright colors, like teal and pumpkin. Playful accents, like “Hang Out” mats, welcome guests at check-in. A mixed-use coffee bar gives guests a place to grab a bite or simply relax in between meetings, while The Studio serves as a “rec room” for socializing and drawing inspiration.

The Sandman
Set off US-101 in Santa Rosa, California, The Sandman offers a refreshingly modern take on the roadside motel of yesteryear thanks to a thoughtful renovation across the property. All 135 bright and airy guest rooms have modern furnishings, flat-screen TVs and luxurious Malin+Goetz bath products. Order playful cocktails, like a Berry Prosecco Ice Cream Float, in the remodeled Pool House & Bar before splashing around in the outdoor pool with a floatie. Kids will love sipping on Ocean Water (flavored soda with gummy fish floating in the glass).

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Best Places to Travel in the United States

If you’ve been trying to decide where to vacation this year within the United States, look no further. We have the best spots listed for you here. Take a week, a weekend or more if you like. You can also make numerous trips to be sure you get to take in all the sights.

7. Norfolk, Virginia

It’s easy to write off this area because it has always been heavily dominated by the Navy and defense industry. But look what you’d be missing if you didn’t take a trip here:

  • Benchtop Brewing, a craft beer entrepreneurship that just opened in 2016
  • Bearded Bird Brewing is a microbrewery cooperative and offers a big patio for beer sampling.
  • The Waterside District is being developed and will include
    • Starr Hill Taproom
    • Cogan’s Pizza, opening in 2017
    • Other restaurants
  • The Main is another downtown hot spot that includes:
    • A seafood restaurant
    • Rooftop lounge
    • Hilton Hotel with 300 rooms
  • The Neon District is an artsy area and home to the Chrysler Museum of Art

6. Nashville, Tennessee

  • The Ryman Auditorium turns 125 years old in 2017 and has a full calendar
  • The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum turns 50
  • The Bluebird Café celebrates 35 years
  • If you’re a foodie, you’ll be in hog heaven! Both the Westin and Thompson hotels recently opened and brought along several restaurants:
    • Maneet Chauhan’s
    • The Mockingbird
    • Josh Besh’s Marsh House
    • Henrietta Red (with Chef Julia Sullivan)

5. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Debuting this year is the new Museum of the American Revolution and ripe with history as America’s birthplace.  You can relax sipping limoncello at the Sicilian social club, while double IPA drinkers enjoy their favorites on the same sidewalk seating area.  Exceptional hotel brands have been flocking to the city so that you can pick your sport at Four Seasons, Study, or SLS.  And the city has several activists supporting undocumented workers’ rights, including the new mayor is making efforts to make Philly a sanctuary city.

4. Indianapolis, Indiana

You don’t have to love the races to love Indy.  Another hot spot for foodies, you’ll enjoy an incredible brunch at Milktooth, fried chicken at the Crispy Bird.  Crispy Bird comes to town via James Beard Award winner, Martha Hoover.  The Owner’s wife menu was built with the help of Jonathan Brooks from Milktooth.  And Sun King Brewery just opened a 15,000 distillery in Carmel.  Plus 21c, Ironworks, and home-goods brand West Elm, you will find nothing but yummy comfort in this location.

3. Jackson Hole, Wyoming

This is the place to be if you want an eagle’s view of the total solar eclipse on August 21.  The first one in nearly 40 years to be visible from the continental U.S.  Jackson Hole offer spectacular scenery, endless vistas, and minimal light pollution, so the view should be perfect.  And when you’re not star gazing, you can hike the Grand Teton, explore Yellowstone and visit Jackson proper.  Be sure to make a pit stop at Persephone Bakery for the best pastry you’ll ever eat and grab a souvenir at Made where their crafts are all locally made.

2. Honolulu, Hawaii

In 2017 the capital city will celebrate its biennial, attracting artists from the local areas and the Pacific Rim.  Be sure to visit Foster Botanical Gardens, Chinatown and City Hall, find your way to the Kaka’ako neighborhood, where you will find dozens of new Pow! Wow! murals on the walls of warehouses, construction sites, and burgeoning collectives-cum-galleries like Lana Lane Studios.  The city is becoming a real hot spot for artists, and nearby Waikiki is attracting a new art centered Surfjack Hotel and Swim Club.  The hotel offers murals from local artists from the restrooms to the bottom of the pool.  You really can’t go wrong with your visit to Honolulu.

1. Cincinnati, Ohio

Home of MLB’s Reds, the Queen City’s has been undergoing lots of changes, particularly in the Over the Rhine district.  Former warehouses have been converted into apartments and office facilities.  The city was first inhabited in the 19th century by German immigrants.  Vine Street, offers fun, young brands like interiors shop Elm & Iron and when you’re done shopping, have a seat at Holtman’s Donuts for a cup of joe and a donut that will melt in your mouth.  There is a new streetcar that connects downtown, Ziegler Park and the Ohio River that includes a deep-water pool.  The historic Music Hall was recently renovated, and the inaugural Blink Cincinnati light and art festival will come around in October.  Just a ten-minute drive across the state line into Covington, Kentucky you will find the beautiful Hotel Covington which replaced the former headquarters of Coppin’s Department Store, and the original 1907 architecture serves its new purpose beautifully.  A bar with 20-foot ceilings and a slanted floor originally intended to allow shoppers a view of the entire store, now presents a splendid view of the lobby and reception areas.  Filmmakers are also drawn to Cincinnati, for its Art Deco buildings and tax incentives.  And on the star watch, you may spot Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, and Ellen Page in hot spot eateries like Boca and Sotto and later checking into the art-filled 21C Museum Hotel.  Who knew there was so much going on in the former WKRP in Cincinnati?

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The 4 Best Smartphone Cameras for Travelers

There’s a new best camera in town.

DxOMark Image Labs, considered the industry standard for camera and image quality ratings, reviewed the new Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, and released an updated ranking of the top mobile phone cameras this week.

For travelers in the market for a new smartphone, the list can help with making a decision in a market flooded with options (typically all claiming to be the best).

But there are a few factors that bear more weight than others for frequent fliers. To help travelers pick the best devices, we’re evaluating the top phones on the market based on the features that matter most.

Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus
If taking beautiful travel photos is your priority, you might want to consider upgrading to Samsung’s new flagship phone.

Introduced on February 25, the Galaxy S9 Plus bumped the Google Pixel 2 to snag the No. 1 spot on DxOMark’s mobile camera ranking. It earned a 99 out of 100 with its collective photo and video scores, and DxOMark declared it the “best [photo score] we’ve seen so far.” The phone has excellent resolution even when zooming, and produces bright, vivid color photos.

Google Pixel 2
Now in second place, Google’s Pixel 2 holds the No. 2 spot with 98 points. Its accurate autofocus, solid flash, and detail preservation continue to make it a powerful companion device for photographers. Of the top smartphones on this list, the Pixel 2 remains the best option for videographers, with 96 points out of 100. (By comparison, the Galaxy S9 Plus scored 91, tying with the Mate 10 Pro.)

Apple iPhone X
Apple’s iPhone X takes third with 97 points, though its camera actually outperforms the Google Pixel 2 for photographs. (A weaker video score dragged down the overall ranking, but the camera alone was — before the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus — hailed the “top performer for stills.”) Compared to the iPhone 8 Plus, the X has superior zoom performance, exposure, and color rendering, among other factors. Its portrait mode was also a standout.

Huawei Mate 10 Pro
A little-known phone from a Chinese manufacturer that only just became available in the United States in mid-February, the Huawei Mate 10 Pro boasts Leica dual lens cameras, and ties with the iPhone X with 97 points overall. DxOMark gave this smartphone high marks for its wide dynamic range, detail preservation (even in low light and zoom conditions) and its “outstanding” autofocus.

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Secrets of the Great Wall of China

Like a writhing dragon’s tail, the Great Wall of China snakes its way across China’s northern border. As its name suggests, the Great Wall is an imposing architectural marvel, and it’s often hailed as one of the greatest man-made wonders of the world.

The Great Wall of China’s history stretches back more than 2,000 years, to a time before China was even a unified country.

But the Great Wall of China isn’t really a single great wall. “The first thing to note,” travel expert Stan Godwyn told us, “is that it’s actually a series of walls and fortifications.”

Godwyn typically arranges for clients to visit one of four main sections — Badaling (the most well-known and accessible for travelers of varying mobility), Mutianyu (well-restored but much less crowded), Simatai (a crumbling, rugged stretch of wall), and Jinshanling (for serious hikers).

Despite its cultural and historic importance, it wasn’t until 1987 that the Great Wall of China was listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

Want to discover more Great Wall of China facts and bits of history? Read on for our definitive guide to this bucket list attraction and ancient marvel.

Where is the Great Wall of China?

The Great Wall of China is easily accessible from Beijing, though the massive structure stretches from Hushan, Liaoning in the east all the way to the city of Jiayuguan, in the country’s northwest. Generally speaking, the Great Wall of China defends the country’s northernmost border. A 2012 archeological survey estimated that the wall (taking into account all the dynasties that had worked on the structure) crosses 15 provinces and extends from Xinjiang, in the northwest, to the border of Korea in the east.

How Long is the Great Wall of China?

If you were to measure all the sections ever built, a new reports suggest the Great Wall of China could be a staggering 13,170.7 miles long. The most popular (and arguably the most beautiful) section was erected during the Ming Dynasty, and runs for 5,500.3 miles between Hushan to the Jiayuguan Pass. Even if you only take into consideration the main-line length of the wall (about 2,150 miles) it’s still the record-holding longest wall in the world.

For those wondering how tall the Great Wall of China is, the general answer is that the structure’s height varies considerably, from 15 feet all the way to 39 feet. At its widest point, the wall is 32-feet-thick.

When Was the Great Wall of China Built?

It’s hard to say precisely when the Great Wall of China was built, as so many dynasties and rulers contributed to its construction. It’s thought that the first lengths of the wall were built as early as 770 B.C., though official work didn’t begin until 221 B.C., during the reign of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Most of what remains today — that 5,500-mile stretch — was built during the Ming dynasty, between 1368 and 1644.

According to the Travel China Guide, some 20 states and dynasties contributed to the construction of the Great Wall of China over the course of many millennia.

Why Was the Great Wall of China Built?

Originally built as a wartime defense, the Great Wall of China features many towers and passes. When Emperor Qin Shi Huang first proposed the so-called Long Wall, it was meant to defend the Chinese states against nomadic tribes from the north.

During the Han Dynasty, (between 206 B.C. and 220 A.D.) the Great Wall was extended to protect the Silk Road trade. The Ming Dynasty, which “took a largely defensive stance,” according to History.com, is known for not only extending the Great Wall, but also repairing and reinforcing existing structures.

How Was the Great Wall of China Built?

Despite its name, the Great Wall is actually a collection of fortifications, some of which run parallel to one another, while others are circular or side walls. There are even portions of the Great Wall that are natural barriers, like rivers or high mountains.

Hundreds of years before any official construction on the Great Wall began, individual Chinese states built fortifications against one another, using mostly earth, wood, and stones. Construction during the Ming Dynasty made use of bricks rather than cut stone, which appears largely in the foundation and gateways.

According to History.com, Qin Shi Huang had a labor force of nearly 300,000 soldiers, commoners, and prisoners. Hundreds of thousands of men died while working on the wall, which required them to carry heavy materials on their backs up to the top of the ridgelines.

Much of the work on the oldest sections of the Great Wall were built by hand, though primitive technology — wheel barrows, ropes, basket-and-pulley-systems, and horse or oxen-drawn carts — was also used.

When is the Best Time to Visit?

The most popular times to visit the Great Wall of China are the first weeks of May and October — but travelers should expect massive crowds during these periods. “These are major holidays, and everyone travels,” explained Godwyn.

During the winter, the Great Wall of China is blanketed in snow — and the number of tourists will drop dramatically. But be prepared for a slippery, windy walk, and pack accordingly.

Autumn is arguably one of the most beautiful times to visit the Great Wall of China. Weather is comfortable and dry, and the mountains’ foliage is a kaleidoscopic array of hues.

We also recommend booking a trip to the Great Wall of China in June. There aren’t any domestic holidays, and it’s Beijing’s shoulder season. You’ll avoid holiday-related crowds and also enjoy serious deals and discounts on hotel rooms and tours.

Can You See the Great Wall of China From Space?

Contrary to popular rumors, you can’t see the Great Wall of China from space with the naked eye. As NASA reported, however, photographs taken from the International Space Station have depicted sections of the wall under ideal conditions. The wall can be clearly photographed from space using radar imagery.

How Many People Visit the Great Wall of China?

Every year, more than 10 million people flock to the Great Wall of China, making it one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions. In 2013, 10,720,000 tourists visited the Badaling and Mutianyu areas of the wall.

In 2013, some 10,720,000 tourists visited the Great Wall of China, making it one of the world’s most visited tourist attractions.

How to Plan Your Visit

The Great Wall of China is a perfect day trip for travelers based in Beijing. “Most clients do one day at the Great Wall as part of a visit to Beijing,” explained Godwyn. “Typically, we have a day of sightseeing in Beijing — then the second day is an excursion to the wall.”
Pick the part of the wall that best suits your needs and interests. Active, confident hikers should venture to Jinshanling, while families may want to stick with the more accessible Mutianyu section. (There’s an unforgettable, three-minute-long toboggan ride from the top of the eastern end to the bottom.)

Check specific fees in advance, but expect to pay approximately 45 yuan ($7) for general admission to the Great Wall.

But don’t rush it. Whether you’re visiting the Great Wall of China on a layover or during a longer trip, we recommend spending at least two or three hours exploring the ancient structure.

Getting to the Great Wall From Beijing

The beautiful, Ming Dynasty portion of the Great Wall is just 70 miles from Beijing. But getting there can be a bit tricky for travelers making the trek solo.

Visitors sticking with public transportation will first need to get to Dongzhimen Station, where you can take an hour-long express bus ride to Huairou Station. Here, you’ll need to transfer to a bus stopping at the Mutianyu Roundabout.

Subway lines also transfer to Dongzhimen Station from the Beijing West Railway Station, Beijing South Railway Station, and the Beijing Railway Station. The Airport Express connects directly from the Capital International Airport to Dongzhimen Station.

Most experts on travel to the Great Wall will recommend skipping the train and opting for a hired car and a guide. They’ll be able to take you to less popular sections of the wall and can help navigate unexpected hiccups, such as road closures. A car is also the best way to maximize your time.

This could, however, be quickly changing. By 2019 — in time for the Winter Olympics in 2022 — China plans to open the world’s deepest, largest high-speed railway station beneath the Great Wall’s Badaling section.

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Top 10 Craziest Waterslides in the World

As you whip around through narrow plastic tube with water splashing you on all sides leading you to 100 foot drop you just might find yourself experiencing the most electrifying moment of your next vacation. There are many places to go and things to see but nothing beats the adrenaline rush that one gets from a waterslide. Here’s a list of the 10 craziest waterslides you can find. Go on and conquer them!

1. Ridehouse

People flipped when they found out that the Beijing National Aquatics Center would be turned into a theme park. Excitement was through the roof. Ridehouse is China’s first water theme park and is booming with waterslides, pools, jellyfish, and water cannons. It literally has anything you could ever hope for when it comes to water and fun.

2. Toboggan

This is Sicily’s greatest water attraction yet. It consists of eleven slides that plummet off a cliff on the cost of the island. form Sicily’s most scenic water attraction, which runs down a cliff on the northwest coast of the island. The slide passed goes through three decks and splash you into both pools and the Mediterranean Sea.

3. King Cobra

It’s so fitting for a waterslide to be named after the world’s longest snake. This waterslide lives up to just that. It was made to look like a giant cobra with yellow and orange scales and will you to plummet at up to 30 miles per hour. The rides last thrill? A 25-foot straight drop.

4. Wild Vortex

Here is another amazing water feat for adrenaline junkies. The Wild Vortex is a 60 feet tall and drops you at a 40 feet free fall in seven seconds via a trap door. The rush you get will be intense.

5. Behemoth Bowl

This one isn’t a solo slide. You take this one on with a four-person raft and speed down it at 30 feet per second. Riders plunge down am almost 300-foot-long-tunnel and drop into the world’s largest bowl. It spins you, splashes you, and shoots you out.

6. Insano

Brazil’s monster waterslide is one of the biggest in the world. It is over 130 feet tall and has a 14 story drop going at over 60 miles per hour. Be prepared to wait in line for this one though. Over a half million riders line up for Insano each year.

7. Wiegand Maelzer Slide Tower

The Wiegan Maelzer Slide Tower is stainless-steel 90 foot twoer and sits at the side of a lake. Once on top riders can choose between 5 separate waterslides to go down. One includes a jump at the end.

8. Leap of Faith

This slide is an exact replica of a Mayan temple and is over 60 feet tall. The plunge is heart pounding but it’s the drop into the shark infested lagoon that makes this stand out.

9. Mammoth

The Mammoth lives up to it name. It’s massive at over 7 stories high and it covers over 3 acres. It might not be the tallest waterslide, but it is definitely the longest. On this ride six people get on a raft that throw them down hill into dark and narrow channels below.

10. AquaDuck

This waterslide is know as “the Duck.” It is the first water coaster to be on a boat. It’s over 700 feet long and 4 decks high. It rides along a Disney cruise ship and sends riders on a raft down a loop powered by water jets.

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The Top Cities in Canada

Beautiful green spaces, friendly locals, and distinctive cultures. These are just a few of the reasons why our readers gave Canada a big thumbs-up for an urban getaway.

“Vancouver and the surrounding areas are simply stunning,” said one fan. With its laid-back Pacific Northwest vibe, and local attractions like Stanley Park, Granville Island, and the Capilano Suspension Bridge, Vancouver embodies what so many travelers love about visiting the Great White North in general: nature is at your doorstep, as well as fine dining, shopping, and cultural attractions. “There is so much to do, with water activities and mountains close by,” said another.

Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, we asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated cities on their sights and landmarks, culture, cuisine, friendliness, shopping, and overall value.

Vancouver snagged the No. 2 spot, with Victoria, a culinary capital on the rugged, southwestern tip of British Columbia, following close behind. Montreal, famous for its cobblestoned lanes and Gothic Revival cathedrals, struck readers as “quaint” and “unbelievably friendly.” Come winter, you’re as likely to spend a day cross-country skiing at Mount Royal Park as you are perusing contemporary art in industrial neighborhoods like Griffintown. And one reader noted that the strength of the American dollar is making it even more affordable. “Our money went further than we expected — though we would have loved every moment in this beautiful, walkable city regardless.”

Our readers made it clear that all of Canada’s top cities, as diverse as they are, had one virtue in common. Even when the temperatures drop and the city sidewalks are blanketed in snow, locals greeted visitors with warmth and hospitality. “People went out of their way to help or provide advice,” said one traveler of their experience in Victoria.

Whether you’re crossing the border for a long weekend or taking an epic, 20-day luxury train trip from coast to coast, these are the favorite Canadian cities you can’t miss.

5. Halifax, Nova Scotia

4. Montreal, Quebec

3. Victoria, British Columbia

2. Vancouver, British Columbia

1. Quebec City

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Top 10 European Cities to Visit

There is more to Europe than visiting the Queen. In fact, Europe is a very diverse continent with many different cultures and languages. For those planning a Europe trip, here are 10 of the top European Cities to visit to get the most variety and exposure.

10. Athens, Greece
Filled with so much history and culture, Athens is a bucket list city for avid travelers, and now is a better time than ever to visit. Greece is in somewhat of a financial fiasco at the moment, and tourists can take advantage of this by visiting at a lower price. Th economic woes will not, by any means, affect the beauty of Athens. The city is filled with gorgeous architecture and plenty to see and do. Accommodation prices are lower than before, and you can enjoy affordable, hearty meals at local cafes. Athens is also home to some of Europe’s most uniquely creative bars, so make sure to take a bar tour and enjoy the local liqueurs and eats.

9. Porto Portugal
If you are looking for class, Porto is the place for you to visit. Located in Northern Portugal, Porto is a World Heritage City that oozes class and sophistication – even their McDonald’s has chandeliers. There are plenty of local sights to enjoy, but the food is truly one of the highlights of this city. For the price of a meal at an average American lunch place, you can expect a fresh meal, made from organic local ingredients and the freshest fish. Meals are served with port wine, of course. Every meal will feel like you are fine dining.

8. Zagreb, Croatia
Zagreb has the most museums per capita in the world, so if you love museums, this is definitely the city for you. There is literally a museum for everything here. Despite that, the city has not been overrun by tourist prices. You can expect to find accommodation for no more than $50 per night. There are also a plethora of bars, restaurants and food markets so you can definitely taste your way around the city. Transportation within the city is also affordable with options to get a day pass for the train, or bike around the city.

7. Tallinn, Estonia
Tallinn is one of the best kept medieval cities on the planet. You simply have to visit to understand why this city is on the UNESCO World Heritage Site List. Estonia is a small country with a very small population so you can expect to feel welcomed and cozy when you arrive. As an ex-Soviet nation, Estonia is much cheaper than neighboring countries so you can expect to see some of their neighbors coming to Tallinn to do their shopping. Tallinn is an architectural and cultural city. Besides checking out all the beautiful buildings, you can enjoy free live music performances around the city.

6. Girona, Spain
With breathtaking medieval cathedrals and winding stones alleyways, Girona is the epitome of old Europe. In this city, you will find world-renowned restaurants, beautifully decorated bars, and other eateries that will take your taste buds on tour. Girona is also less than half an hour away from Costa Brava, where you will find medieval beauty in the beach town. There is so much to see and do in Girona, it is a popular destination for those continuing to Barcelona.

5. Krakow, Poland
Hipster meets historical. That’s probably one of the best ways to describe Poland’s most toured city. Krakow is a hot spot for visitors wanting to see the synagogues, art and fairytale charm that surrounds the city. Krakow is also a city of significance, holding painful Holocaust history within its streets. You can take a guided tour to learn about Krakow during the Holocaust. Food and lodging are very cheap, with accommodation costing no more than $50 and night and food and drinks costing no more than $5 per meal. You’re in for a treat.

4. Ljubljana, Slovenia
First things first, it is pronounced “youb-blee-ah-na”. Secondly, this is one of the most budget-friendly cities that you will visit in Europe. Really, it will feel like you spent nothing at all. This beautiful city is an infusion of Germanic, Latin and Slavic history, making it a unique blend of cultures. The city is home to the breathtaking Ljubljana Castle and mountain-lake towns nearby. The city itself is encircled by snow-capped mountains – Ljubljana is a photogenic city. The food in Ljubljana costs next to nothing, and the local hospitality is unmatched.

3. Italy
Getting there may be a bit of a process, but once you arrive, you will never want to leave. Located in southern Sicily, Agrigento is the epitome of relaxed luxury. The town center is located near The Valley of Temples – home to the most beautiful Greek ruins on this earth, and minutes away from the Stairs of Turks. Whilst in Agrigento, you can expect to live like royalty, with luxurious palatial properties costing from $60 per night. As for food, you are in for a Mediterranean feast. You will enjoy the freshest fish, fruits, and purest oils for next to nothing. You will never want to leave.

2. Budapest, Hungary
Forget Paris. If you’re searching for European romance, Budapest is where you should be looking. Dubbed the spa capital of the continent, Budapest is the home of some of Europe’s best-heated spas. These spas are accessible at a low cost and you can spend the day letting go of a lifetime of tension. If you love architecture, you can check out the city’s unique combination of Turkish and Roman communist architecture. Accommodation in Budapest is also dirt cheap, with some private lodging starting at less than $10 a night.

1. Dublin, Ireland
If London had a cute little cousin, Dublin would be it. Located in Ireland, this city is perfect for those wanting to see classic Europe without breaking the bank or dealing with the London crowds. It is accessible by flight from most major European airports, for a low cost. Accommodation is also more affordable than other major cities. Ireland is a country filled with history and culture. There are plenty of sights to be seen and visitors can purchase the Dublin Pass which gets you into almost all Dublin attractions for a much lower cost. Being a quaint city, touring and sightseeing is more accessible for those who have limited time. Of course, Ireland is known for its beer and pubs, so make sure you visit the famous Temple Bar before you leave.

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Top 10 Destinations for Solo Travellers

Solo traveling is something that every person must do, at least once in a lifetime. It is truly amazing how much you can learn and experience when you decide to enjoy your own company and focus on the travel and culture, rather than on the people that you are traveling with. On the way, you will meet new people and actively participate in your travels, rather than just being a sightseer and picture taker. Below are 10 of the best destinations to travel and enjoy alone.

10. Seville, Spain
This is a country that is known for being lively and social, making it the perfect destination for someone who is traveling alone and wanting to make friends. Seville is fun loving, and most importantly, hospitable. It is not uncommon for strangers to strike up a conversation, dance, and even invite you to share a meal. The best part about touring Seville is that there is always something to do. You don’t need to have a plan just step outside and you will find something to do or a place to explore. Being a solo traveler also allows for more accommodation options. You can opt to stay with a local family, as a homestay, or stay in a hotel or hostel. Either way, you are bound to make a few new friends.

9. Paris, France
For those who could spend hours in museums and galleries, Paris is the solo destination of your dreams. Despite the long-time association with romance, Paris is actually more a city of love. You will fall in love with the planets best museums. You will fall in love with the most decadent desserts. And you will definitely fall in love with the way the city feeds you culture, beauty, and art. You can find accommodation from $40 per night, depending on your tastes, and a Museum Pass costs about 75 euros for 6 days of unlimited entry to 50 different sites. You can take pictures of all you see and enjoy a quiet afternoon coffee in one Paris’ MANY cafes and coffee shops.

8. Belgium
Beer and bicycles. If those two things appeal to you, you should definitely add Belgium to your solo travel list. Whilst this is a small country, there are over 150 world-famous breweries crammed into a space smaller than the space of Maryland. You can easily access all of them over the space of a few days, and partake in a biking beer tour whilst you are at it. Whilst in the country, you can enjoy some Belgian cuisine that is both affordable, and pairs well with the many local brews. There are plenty of accommodation options in Belgium, and some even free for lone travelers in small towns. You will love the Belgian hospitality and make plenty of new friends along the way.

7. Taipei, Taiwan
The perfect combination of modernity and history, Taipei is a safe and exciting destination for solo travel. You can explore the night markets where you can buy food, clothing, and anything in between for a low price, as well as the modern buildings and world-class malls. This city is easily accessible with most public communication in English, and low crime rates – there are even Safe Waiting Zones marked on metro platforms if you need to feel even safer. You will find all of the urban comforts you require, as well as the hustle and bustle of a traditional Asian metropolis. This is a particularly great destination for first-time solo travelers who do not want to have to worry about crime and language barriers.

6. Melbourne, Australia
Welcome to the world’s most livable city! Melbourne is a welcoming destination that has all the amenities to make your life hassle-free and enjoyable. Whilst you are here, you can enjoy the free tourist tram to take you around the city, as well as the friendly nature of the local Melbournians. In the city, the major sights are the Star Observation Wheel, Federation Square, Southbank Riverside, and plenty of seasonal activities depending on when you visit. Melbourne is also a multicultural city so expect to sample your way through worldwide foods. There is also an active and vibrant nightlife for those who want to party the night away. You definitely won’t ever feel lonely in this city.

5. Salzburg, Austria
Famously known as Mozart’s hometown, Salzburg yet another great destination for solo travelers looking to soak in its inviting charm. You can visit sights from The Sound of Music such as The Mirabell Gardens, and spend hours in the Biergarten sampling Austria and Europe’s finest ales. This is also the country’s most bike-friendly city, meaning that your transportation costs will be low, and you still be able to see all parts of the city.

4. Washington Dc, USA
This national capital makes it so easy to navigate and enjoy all the city has to offer. Whilst traveling alone, you will have the opportunity to explore the national memorials, galleries, and other private exhibits. There are plenty of free things to do in DC, and almost all of them are accessible via the metro system. You can explore the city on foot, rent a bike, or Uber/Lyft. As for night time entertainment, DC has it all. You can hit the bars or check out some evening theatre performances that are perfect for sitting back and enjoying a drink alone.

3. London, England
It is a given that London is on this list. Almost every solo traveler starts their adventures in London. It is easy to navigate, especially because there is a well-explained signage system that has translations in numerous languages. There are plenty of sights to visit in the city and so many tourists that you won’t have trouble getting pictures of yourself, even if you are traveling solo. The accommodation options in the city vary depending on location and budget, but you will always find something within your price range. In London, you are bound to meet and bond with other solo travelers along your journey.

2. Stockholm, Sweden
This beautiful city is a popular solo travel destination, especially among women of all ages. The city holds a unique beauty that you need to explore on your own to truly appreciate. There are plenty of free walking tours around the city that you can join at any point. There are also plenty of accommodation options for single travelers, depending on your budget of course. Transportation is easily accessible in Stockholm, with metro stations so beautifully decorated that they could be mistaken for art exhibits. You can expect the utmost hospitality, especially in restaurants and bars, where solo travelers are not a rarity and are not treated like an oddity by staff. A great destination to start a European solo adventure.

1. Iceland
This is the perfect solo destination if you are looking to unplug from the world for a while and really spend some time with yourself. In this beautiful country, you will be treated to the most magnificent waterfalls and glaciers. There are plenty of nature-oriented activities to do alone and the perfect backdrop for breathtaking photographs. One of the top peaceful countries in the world awaits your visit!

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Top 10 Food Festivals in the USA

They say that food is the gateway to the heart, and no one can disagree with that. Food can teach you so much about the culture of a place. It brings people together, during sadness and joy. For all the food lovers, the USA is full of different cuisines that are unique to specific regions. Food festivals occur year-round to celebrate and appreciate different foods in different parts of the country. Below are our top 10 food festivals in the USA. Eat. Travel. Enjoy.

10. Chicago Food Truck Festival, Chicago, Illinois
Nothing says “FESTIVAL” like a food truck, so what better way to festival than to have a food truck festival. Located in Chicago, this food fest celebrates numerous types of cuisine and food truck culture. The streets are lined with food trucks selling anything and everything that you can imagine. This is the perfect festival for those who want to try a bit of everything and anything.

9. Vegan Soulfest, Baltimore, Maryland
The festival for all things vegan and sustainable. This vegan festival celebrates food and healthful eating. There are numerous vendors selling delicious vegan foods from all culture and countries. There are also vendors selling cruelty-free products, and discussions about how to make the world cleaner, sustainable, and cruelty-free. This is great festival for those who love to eat well, as well as those who want to explore and learn more about veganism.

8. Maine Lobster Festival, Rockland, Maine
Calling all lobster lovers. This is the festival for you! Held in August each year, the Maine Lobster Festival is one of Rocklands main attractions. For five days, there is promise of anything and everything lobster. Local restaurants serve their specialty lobster dishes using the freshest ingredients. There are also cooking contests, demonstrations from world-renowned chefs,  and nationally renowned entertainers who perform at the festival. This is definitely one for a niche demographic but a must for all foodies who love the freshest lobster.

7. Dessert Goals, New York City
If you are looking for heaven on earth, this is it. This festival is based on the most important food group – desserts! This festival is great for dessert lovers who would like to explore treats from around the world. Not only are all the desserts delicious, it also makes for some aesthetically pleasing Instagram pictures, and great gifts for those at home.

6. Hawaii Food and Wine Festival, Honolulu, Hawaii
This festival is hosted every year in September by award-winning chefs: Roy Yamaguchi and Alan Wong. This festival attracts chefs, sommeliers, wine, and spirit producers across the world who come to the four-day festival to showcase their best culinary skills, spirits, and wines. This festival is perfect for those looking to take a vacation to Hawaii and experience world-class cuisine. What better way to enjoy food and drinks, than in Honolulu with a picturesque oceanic backdrop. Pure bliss.

5. Feast Portland, Portland, Oregon
If you are planning on visiting Portland, make sure to plan it for mid-September to coincide with this glorious festival. Appropriately named, this food festival is truly a celebration that spans the entire city. There is the opportunity to try every single food you can think of. Some areas offer free samples, some offer extremely discounted full meals, and there are numerous food-related activities all across the city. You can explore the entire city knowing that you can grab a bite at any given point. This three-day festival runs from September 14th until the 17th.

4. Avocado and Margarita Street Festival, Morro Bay, California
Forget food and wine. This is Californian spin on the traditional food festival is just sensational. This festival invites chefs and cooks from around California to showcase their best margarita recipes, as well as food recipes which use avocados from California. This festival focuses on serving food made from local produce. You can even build your own margaritas. This is the perfect festival to say goodbye to the summer. It takes place in early September in Morro Bay.

3. Sweet Onion Festival, Walla Walla, Washington
What better way to celebrate the state vegetable than to throw a festival all about it! The annual Sweet Onion Festival is certainly a sight and an experience. The festival is held in June each year and has everything onion. There are races, activities, and of course delicious foods for all. There are cooking demonstrations by local chefs and onion experts, and the opportunity to try various types of sweet onions grown in Walla Walla. This is a fun and eccentric food festival that attracts visitors from all around the world.

2. NYC Vegetarian Food Festival, New York City
With a lot of festivals showcasing meat-based products, it can be difficult to find a festival that caters to vegetarians. The NYC Vegetarian Food Festival is one of the largest food festivals for vegetarians in the USA. In fact, most of the foods sold and served at the festival are made with no animal products or byproducts, making the food predominantly vegan. Held in May each year, attendees can expect to indulge in delicious foods made from the freshest ingredients. The festival also features cooking demonstrations from renowned chefs.

1. Taste of DC, Washington DC
If you want to truly taste the entire DC, this is, without a doubt, the place to be. Taste of DC is weekend-long festival, that sees the entire Festival Grounds of RFK Stadium filled with food and drink vendors. Over 65 of DCs finest restaurants bring their best food forward to this festival which is held whether there is rain or shine. As DC is a multicultural melting pot, you can expect to taste flavors from all around the world,  prepared by the best. This festival is held in early October.

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The Best Cities in Africa & the Middle East

In Africa and the Middle East, the cities are as rich and diverse as the continents on which they are situated. And for the traveler willing to spend the time, these cultural hubs reveal themselves as layered, complex gems that take a lifetime to get to know.

Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, we asks readers to weigh in on travel experiences around the globe — to share their opinions on the top cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Readers rated cities on their sights and landmarks, culture, cuisine, friendliness, shopping, and overall value.

The North African country of Morocco pulled in our fourth- and fifth-place urban rankings with Fez and Marrakesh, two cities that have captured the American imagination. Centuries of history — the oldest existing and continually operating university in the world is located there — draw visitors to Fez, while its walkable medieval medina makes getting around a pleasure. In Marrakesh, visitors can’t get enough of the bustling souks, which explode with color and contagious energy as the Koutoubia Mosque’s distinctive minaret stands watch on the horizon.

For the second year in a row, Beirut ranked among the top five. Though Lebanon’s capital has been linked to political and social upheaval, that hasn’t deterred our readers from visiting; many cited the incredible food and nightlife. “People bend over backwards to make sure your visit is spectacular,” wrote in one fan. “People I met would insist on driving me places.” And in the city of Jerusalem, sacred to three major religions, several millennia of history are at visitors’ fingertips, just waiting to be discovered. “The energy of this city is very powerful,” said a reader.

But Cape Town, for the 16th time in World’s Best history, captured the first-place spot. Most cited the rich and varied offerings as the reason for their high score, and it’s true that there’s likely no other city on earth where you can go from hiking a mountain to spotting giraffes to eating at a world-class restaurant, all in the span of a single day. Factor in Cape Town’s affordability thanks to the current exchange rate, and it’s no wonder the destination soared to the top.

5. Fez, Morocco

4. Marrakesh, Morocco

3. Beirut, Lebanon

2. Jerusalem, Israel

1. Cape Town, South Africa