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Where to Visit the Most Unusual Animals in the World

No matter how much of an animal lover you are, there are likely to still be numerous species around the world that you have never even heard of. 

From the gharial of India to the walking fish of Mexico, here are some of the most unusual animals in the world, as well as the places you need to go if you want to catch a glimpse of them. 

The Sumatran Rhino

Sumatran rhino on a field

Also known as the hairy rhinoceros, the Sumatran rhino is unique for a number of different reasons, such as: 

  • It is the smallest of all rhino species, usually measuring just three and a half feet tall 
  • It is the only Asian rhino that has two horns 
  • They are covered with long and bristly hair, giving them more in common with the extinct woolly rhinos than any of the other rhino species around today 
  • They, along with the Javan rhino, are the most threatened of rhinoceros species 

Sadly, in 2015, the Sumatran rhino was declared extinct in the wild in Malaysia, and can now only be found in protected areas, where they are literally guarded by their own protection teams in order to prevent poaching. 

Want to see these magnificent creatures? 

You better be quick, because there are only around 80 of them left on the planet. 

Wondering why there aren’t more captive breeding programs set up for these rhinos? 

There are a few, but these animals are difficult to breed, with long pregnancies that last 16 months. In fact, only four Sumatran rhinos have ever been born through captive breeding programs.

To see this animal in a semi-wild habitat, the best place to go is the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary at the Way Kambas National Park in Indonesia. 

Around 100 hectares of land has been set aside for the Sumatran rhino here, and their breeding program is looking to be quite promising. 

In addition to being home to the rare Sumatran rhino, you will be able to see several other protected animals at the national park, including: 

  • Mitred Leaf Monkey 
  • Agile Gibbon 
  • Eurasian Wild Boar 
  • Red Muntjac
  • Sunda Slow Loris 

The Okapi

Okapi eating off a tree shoot In the field

Native to the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa, the okapi has stripes that make it look similar to a zebra, but is actually related to the giraffe. In fact, it is the only relative of the giraffe that is living today. 

This hoofed mammal is quite secretive in nature, meaning that it can be difficult to spot them in the wild. They live in rainforests, and this is why they are shorter than giraffes, as they need to be able to navigate fallen branches, tree trunks and more. 

Why do they have such unusual stripes? 

They actually provide camouflage when the sunlight filters through the trees in a forest, and also enable a young okapi to see where its mother is. 

Wondering where to go to see okapi in the wild? 

The best place is the Okapi Wildlife Reserve in the Ituri Forest in north-east Congo. 

The reserve itself is absolutely stunning, with everything from dense rainforests to cascading waterfalls, showcasing some of the region’s finest natural beauty. When you take a look at the scenery all around you, it is no surprise that the reserve was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. 

In terms of the okapi, the population here is around 5000, which is quite impressive considering that only 30,000 okapi remain in the wild. 

Wondering what else you will see in the park? 

Here are a few of the reserve’s other highlights: 

  • The largest population or chimpanzees and forest elephants in the Democratic Republic of Congo 
  • 13 species of primates 
  • Leopards
  • Forest buffalo 
  • Several bird and insect species

The Japanese Spider Crab

Long-legged Japanese spider crab in deep blue aquarium

Are you afraid of spiders? 

If your answer is yes, this is an animal that you probably won’t want to see…

Although technically a crab rather than a spider, these carnivorous animals have the longest legs of any arthropod, and scuttle across the floor of the ocean in the same way a giant spider would. 

They can actually reach over 12 feet in length, and weigh up to 44 pounds. 

Terrified? 

Don’t be, because unless you are diving in the deep ocean around Japan, you are unlikely to have a surprise encounter with one. In fact, the larger and older they get, the deeper into the ocean they move.

Want to know another fascinating fact about them? 

They live for at least a century! 

So, if the Japanese Spider Crab lives deep within the oceans of Japan, there isn’t much chance of seeing one, right? 

Not in the wild, but aquariums all over the world are home to these crabs. Not only will you be able to see the crabs up-close, but many facilities also give visitors the chance to handle one of these unusual animals. 

Here are a few aquariums around the world with the Japanese spider crab to check out: 

  • Tennessee Aquarium, USA
  • Georgia Aquarium, USA
  • Oregon Coast Aquarium, USA
  • Long Island Aquarium, USA
  • Aquarium La Rochelle, France 
  • Sea Life Center Blackpool, UK
  • Two Oceans Aquarium, South Africa
  • Shanghai Aquarium, China 

The Patagonian Mara

Patagonian Mara breastfeeding her young

The Patagonian mara is most definitely an unusual animal. 

When looking at one for the first time, it can be hard to determine what this creature actually is.

Well, here’s the answer…

These animals are actually long-legged rodents, although their bodies are similar to those of hoofed mammals. They act in a similar way to rabbits, and this is perhaps what has led to an increasing number of these animals being kept as pets, and even being trained to walk on a leash.

These animals are native to South America, but, just like all of the other animals mentioned above, there aren’t many of them left in the wild…

Patagonian mara are classed as near threatened, due to populations being wiped out by hunting, as well as habitats being taken over by domestic sheep. 

It goes without saying that the best place to visit the Patagonian mara is in Patagonia, Argentina. This sparsely-populated area is home to large grasslands and deserts where the Patagonian mara roam wild. 

The region itself is exceptionally stunning, and is one of the last stops a person can make before heading to Antarctica. Its natural beauty makes it a popular spot for hiking and trekking, with lush valleys, snow-capped peaks, craggy glaciers and so much more to see. 

It’s a little tricky spotting the Patagonian mara on your own, especially if you aren’t experienced in it, so your best bet when it comes to seeing them would be to sign up for a local wildlife tour. 

In addition to seeing the Patagonian mara, you are also likely to catch a glimpse of the following: 

  • Wild horses 
  • Patagonian puma 
  • Guanaco 
  • Gray foxes 
  • Deer 
  • Eagles and hawks 

The Glass Frog

Ghost glass frog on a leaf

Frogs may not seem like anything unusual, but glass frogs are not like the frogs you would usually see in your backyard…

While these small frogs may look primarily lime green in color, if you step a little closer, you will notice that their abdomens are completely transparent. 

Yes, this means that you can see the organs, including the liver, heart and intestines, within their body, as well as their bones. 

There are actually 60 different species of glass frogs out there, so you would think that you would have a high chance of seeing one in the wild.

However, this isn’t quite true…

To begin with, glass frogs are nocturnal animals that live in rainforests, so you would have to venture out into a rainforest after dark. 

If that hasn’t put you off…

Head to the Tortuguero National Park in Costa Rica. http://orogoldstores.com/top-honeymoon-destinations/ 

This national park sprawls out for over 19,000 hectares, and is home to a large population of glass frogs. You will also see 170 other species of reptiles and amphibians here, along with 60 mammal species and 300 bird species. 

While the variety of animals here may be impressive, the park is most famous for being one of the most important turtle nesting sites in Costa Rica, with a 22 mile strip of beach being protected for nesting turtles. 

Since glass frogs tend to favor areas near fast-flowing streams, taking a canoe or kayak ride down one of these rainforest streams would give you a better chance of seeing these creatures than if you were on foot. 

The Gharial

Gharial

Also known as the gavial, or the fish-eating crocodile, the gharial is a crocodilian that is native to the north of India. These are large creatures that can reach up to 15 feet in length, and are recognizable by their thin snouts that make it easy for them to catch fish.

Why have you never heard of a gharial before?

Because ever since the mid 1900’s, the population of gharial in India has declined by more than 98%.

Why?

Due to humans, of course. Not only have humans manipulated the flow of rivers around the country, making it harder for the animals to find a suitable freshwater habitat to survive in, but these special creatures are also being used in traditional Asian medicines.

Because of all of this, the gharial has been classified as critically endangered

So, how can you go about visiting the gharial?

Well, these crocodilians can be found in zoos around the world, but visiting an animal in its natural habitat is always so much more rewarding.

To do this, you will need to head to northern India, where around 1500 gharials are thought to be living.

There are a few national parks that are home to gharial populations, with one of the most popular, as well as the oldest in the country, being the Corbett National Park.

Originally established to protect the Bengal tiger, this park is home to one of the largest gharial populations in India, and there are several viewpoints around the park from where you can try to catch a glimpse of these shy reptiles.

The park also offers guided safari tours, where you will be able to see a number of other native animals, including:

  • Several deer species
  • The Bengal tiger
  • Wild boar
  • Leopards
  • Over 450 species of birds

The Axolotl

Axolotl, also known as Mexican walking fish

Otherwise known as the Mexican walking fish, the axolotl is actually a type of salamander, making it an amphibian rather than a fish.

No matter what it may be classified as, this fascinating creature has quite a paradoxical story to it…

Although the axolotl is near to extinction in the wild, they are actually one of the most widely-distributed amphibians in the world’s pet shops and laboratories, with this animal being considered a culinary delicacy in Japan.

While there are several captive breeding programs for the axolotl around the world, the only place to see this animal in the wild is in the lakes and canals of Xochimilco, which lies nearby to Mexico City

Certain canals and waterways of Xochimilco have been blocked off with barriers to protect axolotl from invasive and predatory fish species, where they are then monitored by researchers until they are strong enough to enter back into the rest of the water system.

Axolotl numbers in the wild are drastically declining, and if you would like to learn more about these creatures, the Parque Ecologico Xochimilco is the place to go. There are several recreational activities to be found here, as well as a restored natural area in which axolotl are thriving.

The world is full of fascinating and unusual animals, but, sadly, many of their populations are drastically declining. While breeding programs are in place for some, there is nothing quite like visiting an animal in its natural habitat. If you do decide to visit one of these unusual creatures, make sure you do so in a way that is sustainable and supportive of their long-term future. 

There are a lot of reasons why the thought of Australia might give you a serious case of itchy feet, be that its fabulous beaches, the superb hospitality or the signature Aussie laid-back approach to life.

Even though the continent is widely known for outdoor or nature-focused adventures, the fast-evolving Australian cities can offer delightful urban adventures that are on par with world’s most visited metropolises.

So, whether you’re interested in hanging out with unusual animals, want to explore the outback or are itching to catch the waves, there is no doubt that Australia will have something just up your alley.

Check out our list of Australia’s 12 best destinations!

Melbourne

One of the most vibrant and diverse cities in the world, you can rest assured that Melbourne will give a warm welcome to every stripe of traveler and entice it will all kinds of interesting adventures.

For example, if you want to soak up the city’s unmistakably bohemian vibes, make sure to get lost in the small streets of Fitzroy – Melbourne’s hip district famed for its vibrant eateries and cozy cafés.

For a more highbrow idea of entertainment, head over to the National Gallery of Victoria and Melbourne Museum, or simply admire the city’s breathtaking Victorian-era architecture.

Sports is a serious affair in Melbourne – between Formula One, Australia Open, cricket and AFL football, we are sure you won’t be left short of exciting sport-centered events. 

Kangaroo Island

Let’s be honest – many holidaymakers travel to Australia so they could admire its colorful animal life which, due to unique geological trajectory of the continent, has evolved to be unlike anywhere else on the planet.

And one of the best places to get up close and personal with Australia’s furry creatures is the island named after its most famous resident, the kangaroo.

Not only is Kangaroo Island a great wildlife-oriented getaway, it’s also fairly low-key when it comes to tourists, so you will have the pleasure of discovering its impressive fauna away from the crowds.

Other than the playful marsupials, at Kangaroo Island you will also get a chance to observe one of the largest colonies of sea lions, nestled some 50 kilometers from Kingscote, the island’s most populous town.

Kangaroo Island is also home to Little Sahara, a sand dune that spans two square kilometers in the southern part of the isle. This is the perfect place to embark on an adrenaline-pumping adventure, such as sand-surfing or sliding on sand toboggans.

Sydney

Boisterous beaches, architectural wonders and eclectic arts and culture scene, it sure seems like Sydney has it all.

First and foremost, the most populous city in Australia is home to its iconic landmark and an architectural masterpiece, the Sydney Opera House.

Elsewhere, Harbour City also offers exquisite beaches set against the vast blue of the pacific ocean, the most famous one being the Bondi Beach.

Sydney also carries reputation of having one of the most pumping nightlife scenes in all of Australia, so if you want to party the night away while Down Under – this city is the perfect place to do so.

Tasmania

As approximately one-third of Tasmania is protected via natural parks, you can rest assured this island state is one of the most unspoiled stretches of nature in the entire country.

And of the most beautiful examples of its untouched landscape is Mount Wellington, a majestic 1,271-meter tall summit which offers breathtaking views of Hobart and the surrounding area.
While in Tasmania, you can also learn more about Australia’s dark history as a penal colony, especially at Port Arthur, which used to be the base for early-day convicts. 

Nowadays, Port Arthur operates as an open-air museum which has been recognized as a World Heritage Site.

And if you want to take a piece of Tasmania home, make sure to visit the Salamanca Market, which is open every Saturday at Hobart’s lively waterfront.

Finally, Tasmania’s becoming increasingly popular for its epicurean delights. On this island, you will be able to feast on everything form world-class beef to mouthwatering seafood.

Brisbane

Even though its popularity pales in comparison with its bigger siblings, the fast pace at which Brisbane is evolving has certainly put this city on the map of most intriguing spots in Australia.

As a result of its cultural flourishing, Brisbane has become home of a host of intriguing artistic and historic spots.

One of the most fascinating ones is Queensland Cultural Center, the defining spot for all events that have to do with arts and culture. Here, you will also find the Queensland Museum, which hosts an impressive collection dedicated to this region’s art, science and nature.

An ideal place to soak up Brisbane’s lively atmosphere is the West End, a cultural melting pot and a labyrinth of small family-owned eateries, fashion-forward boutiques and independent galleries.

Another spot where you can get to experience Brisbane like a local is the district of South Bank and its adjoining waterfront. This area is the home of Wheel of Brisbane and Nepal Peace Pagoda.

And to get away from the hustle and bustle, head over to Mount Coot-tha, an outdoor playground where you’ll find Brisbane Botanical Gardens and Sir Thomas Brisbane Observatory. 

Adelaide

Offering a blend of cosmopolitan vibes with laid-back, cozy atmosphere, Adelaide is a great choice for every traveler who is looking to explore Australian cities at a more relaxed pace.

To see what Adelaide’s growing reputation as a gastronomic hub is all about, head over to the Central Market, where you will be able to sample the best of the local cuisine at one of the 80 food stands.

Adelaide is also known as one of the top shopping destinations in all of Australia. For an afternoon of retail therapy, make sure to go to Rundle Mall, where you will be greeted with an abundance of delightful boutiques, high end brands and hip eateries.

Adelaide is home to one of the country’s most comprehensive art collections, the Art Gallery of South Australia. This intriguing cultural spot is housed in a gorgeous building that dates back to 19th century.

And if you’re wondering whether you’ll still be able to get a chance to interact with Australia’s exotic wildlife, fret not: just north of the city, you will find the second oldest zoo in the country and a home to over 3,000 different species.

Perth

If you plan on exploring Western Australia during your visit down under, then a trip to Perth should definitely be at the top of your itinerary.

This laid-back, yet happening metropolis offers an attractive blend of all-Australian symbols, whether that’s sprawling beaches, laissez-faire lifestyle or exciting gastro scene.

Moreover, the cultural landscape of the town has been rapidly evolving and these days, Perth is a home to countless interesting galleries, artisanal shops and independent cinemas.

The area surrounding the city is home to one of the most famous wine regions on the continent, the Swan Valley. This lush hub of vineyards, cellars and restaurants is a perfect destination for a day trip.

Another great thing about Perth is that it’s suitable for year-round visits due to its Mediterranean climate, which secures favorable weather regardless of the season.

Broome

This sensual resort town, which is nestled on the Indian Ocean coast, is known across Australia for its unparalleled tropical beauty and incredible hospitality.

The most famous landmark in Broome has to be Cable Beach, a 22-kilometer stretch of lush sand sprawling against aquamarine waters.

A great way to soak up Broome’s vibrant blend of cultures is to visit the local Chinatown, a historic landmark which fuses Asian and Colonial architectural styles. While roaming through the boisterous streets, make sure to try local delicacies or pick up a couple of souvenirs for your loved ones.

And for those who happen to be visiting Broome anytime between the months of March and October, be sure to check out the Staircase to the Moon, a spectacular natural sight that occurs when the moon ascends the Roebuck Bay at low tide.

Whitsunday Islands

This delightful archipelago comprises 74 sun-kissed island of varying sizes, making it the ideal destination for experiencing the beauty of the Queensland coast in all its glory.

It’s also the perfect place to explore the Great Barrier Reef and its spectacular aquamarine life, which includes vibrant corals, tropical fish, rays and dolphins.

Because of its rich marine flora and fauna, Whitsundays are a haven for water sports enthusiasts. In fact, the azure waters of Queensland coast are one of the prime spots for diving, snorkeling and other exciting adventures.

To fully grasp the natural beauty of the archipelago, make sure to book a seaplane or helicopter ride, which will take you on a scenic ride across the islands.

Travelers looking for luxury should definitely set their sights on the Hamilton Island, a luscious getaway that’s packed with upscale hotels, fine dining establishments, as well as golf ranges.

Great Ocean Road

Australia’s southern coast is home to one of the most scenic stretches in the world called the Great Ocean Road.

Featuring spectacular cliffs and intriguing rock formations, all set against the backdrop of the roaring ocean, this amazing feat of nature makes for completely mesmerizing car drives. Due to its intense geology, it’s also one of the favorite spots in the country for both rookie and professional photographers.

The crown jewel of the Great Ocean Road is undoubtedly the Twelve Apostles, a fascinating collection of rock formations composed of limestone stacks rising from the ocean.

Another breathtaking natural gem is the Lock Ard Gorge, where you can learn more about a historic shipwreck that took place here in 1878.

Even though this part of the coast is known for being pretty hostile, there are some spots which are swimmer-friendly. One of them is Port Campbell beach, which is nested in a sand-covered bay in close proximity of the eponymous sleepy town.

Eyre Peninsula

If you enjoy embarking on watersport adventures and seafood is your favorite dining option, then it sounds like you’re the perfect candidate for spending your vacation on the Eyre Peninsula.

Visitors who are looking to up their adrenaline levels will be pleased to hear that Eyre Peninsula is among prime spots for swimming with great white sharks.

Nestled on the coast of Boston Bay, Port Lincoln is one of the most populous towns on the Eyre Peninsula. It’s best known for fantastic seafood eateries and rich fishing industry.

Nature lovers can head straight to Coffin Bay National Park, whose breathtaking coastline provides the ideal setting for fishing, sailing and boating.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to have a more laid back holiday experience, then head over to one of Coffin Bay’s lush sandy beaches.

On the west coast of the peninsula, you will find Ceduna, a town famed for excellent seafood restaurants and amazing ocean panoramas. Ceduna is also a gateway for exploring inland wonders of the peninsula.

Yulara

Yulara is a tiny village located in the Northern Territory which serves as a gateway for exploring the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park.

One of the most prominent landmarks of the Australian outback, this national park is home to world-famous mythical rock formations and sacred Aboriginal sites.

The most well-known one is the Uluru, a gargantuan brick-hued block that measures around 863 meters in height. Since Uluru represents a holy formation for the indigenous community, there are many legends dedicated to this site.

And to absorb the full beauty of this unique wonder of nature, head over to Imalung, which offers spectacular sunset views. 

Another fascinating geological feat is Kata Tjura, which comprises multiple domed rock formations. This awe-inspiring site is believed to be 500 million years old.

National Park is also home to Wintjiri Arts and Museum, which houses a rich collection of Aboriginal artwork.

And with this, we round up our list of most coveted destinations Down Under. Between buzzing city vibes, quirky wildlife and spectacular coastal beauty, we have no doubt that this immense continent will give you an opportunity to tailor your dream vacation.

Breathtaking foliage, mouthwatering wine and pumpkin carving… Is there anything not to love about the fall season?

If you enjoy all these autumnal sensations, then perhaps the best way to immerse yourself in seasonal delights is to visit one of the many national festivals dedicated to its magic. Luckily, there is no shortage of interesting and entertaining festivals from coast to coast that will be sure to suit every type of visitor.

From hearty harvest celebrations to exquisite gastro events to trendy desert-set music festivals – here are some of the fall time festivals you need to check out in the season ahead.

Wareham Cranberry Harvest Celebration, Massachusetts

Farmers harvest cranberries during the 9th annual Cranberry Harvest Celebration

Farmers harvest cranberries during the 9th annual Cranberry Harvest Celebration | © John Kropewnicki / Shutterstock

With fall comes Thanksgiving, and with Thanksgiving, the sweet, sweet taste of cranberries.

Well, if are curios to see how this juicy berry travels from farms to your dining table, then you sound like an ideal candidate for visiting the Cranberry Harvest Celebration, an annual event which takes place every October in the town of Wareham in Massachusetts.

Not only will this festival give you a convenient excuse to visit New England – one of the most beautiful regions in the country when it comes to autumnal palettes – it will also delight you with all other kinds of festivities dedicated to this delicious symbol of fall.

The focal point of this festival is the cranberry harvest, which is a spectacular visual sight in its own right.

Visitors get the chance to observe the vast crimson fields in their full splendor; those who want to get an even better view can even book a helicopter ride from the local tour operators.

On the ground, you will find a diverse program, including live cooking, music performances and other exciting activities.

The festival also hosts a boisterous marketplace, where you can get your hands on one of the many cranberry-infused delicacies and other kinds of seasonal treats.

The little ones will also have a whale of a time at the Cranberry Harvest, as the children’s area comes equipped with wagon rides, ponies, paddle boats and much more.

Austin City Limits, Texas

Austin - October 10: Festival goers enjoy an art expo during the Austin City Limits Music Festival on October 10, 2014.

Festival goers enjoy an art expo during the Austin City Limits Music Festival in 2014 | © Dana Gardner / Shutterstock

Despite being the city’s second most famous festival (after South by Southwest), what Austin City Limits has to offer is nothing to be sneered at.

Taking place over the course of two weekends in October, this rich celebration of music and arts hosts eight stages, where visitors can get a chance to see a wide variety of acts, from local indie bands to fully established hip-hop and rock’n’roll titans.

When it comes to music, Austin City Limits’ line-ups have always delivered big names and immense performances ever since its inception in 2002.

Some of the past headliners include well known and well-loved acts, such as Radiohead, Paul McCartney, Metallica and Kendrick Lamar.

Other than strong and diverse headliners, Austin City Limits also operates an area for showcasing the richness of the local dining scene, under the name Austin Eats. In this gastro-oriented spot, visitors have an opportunity to sample the immense palette of the city widely known for its exciting dining scene.

The festival also holds a lively art market, where visitors can get to see works made by local artists and creators.

At the Austin City Limits, you will also find an area dedicated to local community, where festivalgoers have a chance to learn about local causes, but also find out how to support them.

Finally, Austin City Limits hasn’t forgotten its youngest visitors – the grounds hold a designated children’s area, where even the little ones can also get to enjoy the magic of Texas’ vibrant music festival.

Aloha Festivals Floral Parade, Hawaii

Aloha Festivals 2005 Floral Parade in Honolulu Hawaii

Aloha Festivals Floral Parade, Hawaii | © Bruce C. Murray / Shutterstock

If you are in a mood for a somewhat atypical fall festival, then jet off to Hawaii, where you will receive a warm welcome into a vibrant ceremony known as the Aloha Festivals Floral Parade.

This exuberant event takes place every September in the Hawaiian capital of Honolulu.

The color-packed procession starts at the Ala Moana Beach Park and runs through the Kalakaua Avenue before ending in Kapiolani Park.

During the festivities, visitors have a chance to see beautiful floats adorned with flowers native to the islands, as well as Hawaii’s traditional pa’u horseback riders.

The procession is also riddled with all kinds of music performances, from hula dances to Hawaii’s own marching bands.

The event represents one of the most important celebrations of Hawaiians arts, culture and tradition.

Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, New Mexico

Albuquerque, NM - October 5, 2013 - Mass ascension begins at the annual Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta.

Mass ascension begins at the annual Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta | © Michael E Halstead / Shutterstock

Without a shadow of a doubt, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is one of the most spectacular and colorful festivals in the country.

Its origins date back to the 1950s, when the event that involved flying hot-air balloons was originally set up to celebrate Albuquerque’s 770 KOB Radio.

Over the years, the number of balloons that participated in the festivities kept growing and, in 2009, it reached a record number that counted 1,019 balloons in the air.

These days, the Balloon Fiesta, which is held every October, is the largest balloon-themed festival in the world and one of the most popular fall events in the US.

The event begins in dusk, when a small number of balloons is launched to test the weather. The mass accession takes place midday, over a one or two-hour period.

In the evenings, visitors can also admire the lit-up balloons as they paint the sky.

Other than the traditional hot-air balloons, this event also features unique shapes and designs, from animals and symbols to famous cartoon characters.

The event is also accompanied by music performances featuring prominent rock and country music artist.

It should also be mentioned that the Balloon Fiesta is a dream come true for photography lovers; the sight of hundreds of colorful balloons floating above New Mexico’s prairies provides the perfect opportunity to make some jaw-dropping snaps.

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, California

October 8, 2017 - San Francisco, California: Hundreds of thousands of people attend the annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park held every first weekend in October.

Thousands of people attend the annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in 2017 | © EddieHernandezPhotography / Shutterstock

Taking place every first weekend in October, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass (once Strictly Bluegrass) is one of Nor Cal’s most popular festival.

This three-day event, which is held in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, offers its visitors to see some of the most prominent acts in the sphere of guitar-based music – free of charge!

Ever since its inception is 2001, this non-commercial event has strived to cultivate quality music and free-spirited attitude. The original idea was to only invite bluegrass artists, but the management decided to diversify the lineup in 2004, so the festival name acquired the attribute “hardly” to keep up with the updated music offer.

Because of its welcoming attitude, the festival is well loved by visitors and musicians alike.

Acts that have been featured at the festival multiple times include Emmylou Harris, Connor Oberst, Nick Lowe and Moonalice.

Therefore, if you like your live music soulful and gritty and you find yourself in SanFran this autumn, then paying a visit to the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass should definitely be a no-brainer.

Sonoma County Harvest Fair, California

Wooden sign of Sonoma Valley against a vineyard background

Sonoma Valley, California | © Gustavo Frazao / Shutterstock

Autumn is the most important season for wine-making, which means this could be an ideal time to visit one of the lush grape harvest festivals, which are held across the country this time of year.

And one of the most visited ones is the Sonoma County Harvest Fair, nestled in the picturesque vineyards of the most famous wine countries in the US.

Each October, the district hosts harvest-related festivities in the idyllic town of Santa Rosa.

These include the traditional grape stomp world championship, in which all the attendees can participate.

Elsewhere, visitors can also indulge in wine-tasting or sampling the culinary palette, prepared by some of the most renowned chefs in the region.

Sonoma County Harvest Fair also hosts cooking demonstrations, as well as wine tasting seminars for any and all budding wine connoisseurs.

Finally, if you want to take home a souvenir to remind you of your delicious adventures, head over to the market, where you will be greeted with an abundance of award-winning wines, all produced in the Sonoma County.

Alternatively, you can cop one of the hand-crafted trinkets that will make for great gifts for the folks back home.

Life is Beautiful Festival, Nevada

LAS VEGAS - SEP 27 : A general view during the 2015 Life is Beautiful festival on September 27, 2015 in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Life is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas, 2015 | © Kobby Dagan / Shutterstock

Perhaps the barren desert of Nevada isn’t the first place you’d associate with autumnal destinations, but this doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be on your radar in the season ahead.

In fact, one of Las Vegas most prestigious music festival takes place in this period, offering a chance to anyone who finds themselves in Sin City during the fall months to witness some of the hottest music acts of today.

Life is Beautiful Festival takes place in downtown Las Vegas in late September and lasts for four days.

Each year, it draws top performers across genres, including rock, indie, hip-hop and EDM. To illustrate, previous headliners included Gorillaz, 2 Chainz, Muse, Lorde and Blink-182.

Even though music is the main focus of this vibrant festival, Life is Beautiful offers a plethora of exciting accompanying events. For example, the festival also offers an opportunity to check out some of the most buzzed about names in comedy, including Michelle Wolf, Hannibal Buress and winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, Trixie Mattel.

Elsewhere, the festival also hosts a large-scale cookout, where world-class chefs present a new menu each day, each containing dishes cooked over sizzling wood fires. There is also the Cocktail School, where you have an opportunity to learn all the best-kept secrets of renowned mixologists.

Art lovers will be able to check out intriguing murals and installations put up by local and international artists.

Maryland Renaissance Festival, Maryland

Annapolis, Maryland, USA - September 19, 2015: Renaissance Fair Street Activity

Maryland Renaissance Festival, Maryland | © Dora Ramirez / Shutterstock

Gather all ye who are looking to experience autumn as it once was!

Now you have an opportunity to do so at one of the nation’s most colorful fall events – Maryland Renaissance Festival, the second largest festival of this type in the country.

For this occasion, locals and visitors dress up in opulent medieval garb and take part in celebrations that take place over the course of nine weekends, from August to October. The Renaissance Festival is held in the town of Crownsville, in a recreation of a 16th-century English village called Revel Grove, which spans a whopping 25 acres of luscious meadows and woodlands.

The fair is filled with over a hundred of food stands and craft shops. It also operates eight full-sized theaters, as well as several smaller stages that are located within the festival’s rustic taverns. The Maryland Renaissance Fair also contains a designated children’s area, in which the youngest visitors can also experience the magic of the medieval times.

Each year, over 1300 performers partake in the jolly celebration, while festivalgoers get a chance to see all kinds of exciting sights, from catapult demonstrations to Tudor-era theater plays.

National Apple Harvest Festival, Pennsylvania

A bushel basket of stayman apples at a Lancaster County, Pennsylvania farmer's market

A bushel basket of stayman apples at a Lancaster County, Pennsylvania farmer’s market | © Brian Yarvin / Shutterstock

Arguably the most famous harvest festival in the United States, this unmistakably autumnal fair takes place during the first two full weekends of October near the historic site of Gettysburg.

For this occasion, Pennsylvania’s apple country hosts a variety of activities for both children and adults.

Before anything, National Apple Harvest Festival will invite you to please your palate by feasting on all kinds of apple-related treats, including apple jelly, apple pies and candied apples.

For a different kind of entertainment, head over to the antique car lot, where you can admire all kinds of classic cars.

And if you’re in a mood for something a little more interactive, you can challenge your competitive streak in one of the many carnival games that are dotted around the festival grounds.

To see where it all begins, take a tour of Pennsylvania’s apple orchards and learn more about the apple growing tradition.

Finally, you can check out one of the three hundred market stalls and fill your shopping bags with all kinds of apple delicacies and handicrafts to remind you of this fun-filled harvest festival.

And with this, we round up our list of the must-visit autumn-themed festivals in the United States. Whether you’re a fan of music, arts, wine or general fun and games, we hope these destinations will inspire you to make the first steps towards your ideal fall adventure.

Being the largest country in the world, it should come as no surprise that Russia has so much to offer. With Russia hosting the 2018 FIFA World Cup, tourism in the country is picking up, with many people curious about this fascinating region.

From big cities packed with history and culture to untouched areas of wilderness filled with natural beauty, here are some of the top places to visit in Russia this year.

St. Petersburg

Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg, Russia

St. Petersburg is known for being the cultural capital of Russia, making this the city to visit if you would like to learn more about the country’s history, heritage and traditions.

With over four million residents, this is a crowded and busy city, but is one that is always bursting with life.

Wondering what there is to see and do in St. Petersburg?

One of the most popular attractions is The Hermitage, a museum that features so much artwork that it would take you 11 years to examine every single exhibit. Of course, you likely do not have 11 years to spare, so spend your time checking out the masterpieces here, by artists such as Picasso, Rembrandt, and Leonardo da Vinci.

For even more history, the Peter and Paul Fortress is not to be missed, with this historic site having been built in 1703. 

Want to tour some of the city’s extravagant cathedrals?

St. Isaac’s Cathedral is the one you shouldn’t miss, with its gold dome being iconic in the city’s skyline. 

In addition to visiting all of the famous places in St. Petersburg, simply wandering the streets is so much fun. You will stumble upon everything from palaces to suburban parks, with a boat trip along the city’s canals rewarding you with an even greater taste of life in St. Petersburg.

Lake Baikal

For those who want to experience Russia’s great outdoors, Lake Baikal is the place to go.

Located in southern Siberia, Lake Baikal is considered to be the deepest lake in the world, measuring 1700 meters. Having been formed over 25 million years ago, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is also the oldest lake in the world, and contains 20% of all of the unfrozen freshwater in the world. 

So, what is there to actually do here?

Well, let’s begin with the lake itself…

The waters have long since been believed to have healing properties, and there are many shallow, and relatively warm, spots around the lake that are perfect for a swim.

Other than that, here are a few other popular activities that you can do at Lake Baikal:

  • Hike through the series of trails that encircles the lake
  • Visit Listvyanka, one of Lake Baikal’s villages
  • Tour the Ivolginsk Datsan, the largest Buddhist center in Russia
  • Do some wild camping on the islands within the lake
  • See the sunbathing seals and other local wildlife 

One other thing that Lake Baikal is famous for is Baikal Omul, a local fish dish. This will be an easy one to find, as its popularity means that it is sold in just about every coastal town and tourist spot, although the flavors will vary slightly at each different place you eat it at.

Sochi

Sochi, Russia-June, 2017: arboretum in Sochi.

Sochi, Russia-June, 2017: arboretum in Sochi | © mikaelawill13 / Shutterstock.com

Many people equate Russia with icy cold temperatures, but don’t forget that Russia is the largest country on the planet, meaning that it is home to quite a few different climates.

Being one of the southernmost places in Russia, Sochi boasts a subtropical climate with warm seas, and can become quite busy in the summer months.

You have probably already heard of Sochi, as the city hosted the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and is also one of the cities hosting this year’s FIFA World Cup.

The city is stretched along the coast of the Black Sea, and is actually the second longest city in the world after Mexico City.

This is quite a unique city, for a few different reasons…

The first is that the air quality in Sochi is exceptional for a city.

Why?

Because the city is home to around 500,000 acres of forest, with 10,000 acres being located in the city center itself.

As you can imagine, all of this nature plays a central role in life in Sochi, with everything from its botanical gardens to its arboretum being top tourist attractions.

When it comes to healthy living, Sochi residents are passionate about this, with daily walks being a ritual for many. Thanks to this, there are many pedestrian byways dotted around the city, all of which make Sochi easy to explore by foot.

Petropavlovsk

Petropavlovsk is still considered to be quite the hidden gem in Russia, but this city is slowly attracting more and more tourists.

You may be thinking…

I’ve never heard of Petropavlovsk, why would I want to visit it?

Because of its unique scenery, for starters. This city boasts a magnificent backdrop of surrounding mountains, giving you gorgeous views from just about everywhere.

Thanks to the increase in tourism, there are now many boating excursions available, as well as organized trips to nearby attractions, giving you the opportunity to really explore this relatively unseen part of the country.

For those who enjoy dramatic natural beauty, make sure you visit some of the nearby volcanoes, such as Uzon Volcano and the Tri Brata Volcano, as well as its nature reserve. To learn even more about volcanoes, spend a few hours at Vulkanarium, a museum dedicated to these natural wonders.

Kazan

Qol Sharif mosque in Kazan, Russia with night illumination

The name Kazan means “cooking pot” in Tatar, and this name is fitting seeing how this spot is where Europe and Asia seem to meet each other.

This is another extremely unique city, and, being over 10,00 years old, is one of the oldest in the countries, featuring a melting pot of cultures, ethnicities and religions living happily together as one. 

There are several interesting things to see and do in Kazan, such as:

  • Visiting the Kazan Kremlin, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Touring some of the local mosques, since Kazan is considered to be the Muslim capital of Russia
  • Exploring the Volga-Kama National Park, which is part of a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve
  • Doing some shopping at the local malls and markets 

Another one of Kazan’s highlights is its culinary scene…

The local cuisine in Kazan tells so many stories of the city’s history, and many dishes can be found nowhere else in Russia.

Not sure what to try?

Give some of these foods a taste:

  • Kystyby – stuffed delicate flatbreads with a velvety texture
  • Kazylykthinly sliced, air-dried horse sausage
  • Zur-Belisha large, closed pie that tastes most extravagant when prepared with goose
  • Talkysh Kaleve a complex but exceptionally tasty sweet treat, made from honey, sugar, flour and melted butter 

Stolby Nature Reserve

Founded in 1925, the Stolby Nature Reserve is one of the oldest natural reserves in Russia, as well as one of the most famous in the world. 

What makes it so unique?

The fact that it is home to magnificent volcanic rock pillars, known as stolby, that appeared on the surface of the plant about 400,000 years ago, for reasons that are still unknown.

Climbing to the tops of these pillars is a popular activity here, but there are also many new paths and steps that have been created, making it easy for even the less active to access the viewpoints up at the top. There is even a chairlift to take you up one of the most impressive rock pillars, and this is open throughout the year. 

Wondering where you would stay if you visited the Stolby Nature Reserve?

Well, while the nature reserve may be a pocket of natural paradise, it is actually located just a 20 minute drive from the center of Krasnoyarsk.

This large city is home to several of its own attractions, as well as plenty of luxury hotels, including:

  • Hotel Krasnoyarsk
  • Ogni Eniseya
  • Sky Centr
  • Soft Hotel
  • Kupechesky Hotel

Yessentuki

YESSENTUKI, RUSSIA - MAY 23, 2016: View of the old building in Essentuki, resort town in Caucasian Mineral Waters, Russia

YESSENTUKI, RUSSIA – MAY 23, 2016: View of the old building in Essentuki, resort town in Caucasian Mineral Waters, Russia | © gumbao / Shutterstock.com

If you have ever been into a Russian grocery store, you will have likely noticed the name Yessentuki splashed across bottles of water.

Why?

Because this resort town has given its name to a brand of salty mineral water, as it is famous for its mineral springs, as well as for its hot springs.

Thanks to these natural features, Yessentuki has been popular with those seeking a health-conscious getaway since the early 19th century, and continues to promote this reputation.

This is the place to go if you are wanting some rest and relaxation, with several stunning spas to choose from. The largest is the Essentuki Therapeutic Mud Baths, which not only boasts spectacular architecture, but also over 100 years of history behind the treatments that are on offer.

Not only does the spa use natural mineral waters, but they also use mud from Lake Tambukan, offering up treatments that can help with everything from skin diseases to diabetes to the peripheral nervous system.

The Altai Mountains

Have you ever seen a stretch of pure wilderness that has literally been untouched by civilization?

It is likely that your answer is no, but this could change if you paid a visit to the Altai Mountains.

Thanks to the absence of both air and rail connections, the Altai Mountains are one of the least-visited regions on the planet, making this the place to go if you enjoy travelling off the beaten track.

Of course, you will need to travel quite some way into the mountains in order to really get away from civilization, but the effort really is worth it.

You will probably meet quite a few of the local Asiatic Altai people here, and if you are interested in culture, the locals are usually always happy to share their traditions.

Prefer outdoor adventure to culture?

The Katun River is known for being one of the best rafting spots in Russia, while horseback riding is a popular way to get around and explore the mountains. Sailing and fishing are also popular, as is visiting the local spas, where you will find one-of-a-kind saunas built into large cedar barrels. 

Suzdal

Pokrovskiy monastery in Suzdal.The Golden Ring of Russia.

Suzdal is a historic small town that is a part of Russia’s Golden Ring. 

Never heard of the Golden Ring before?

It refers to a ring of ancient towns and cities, encompassing those such as Suzdal, Rostov, and Sergiyev Posad.

Many would argue that Suzdal is the main historic town in the Golden Ring, which is why this town tends to be the most visited out of all of them.

Although Suzdal may be a small town, there is so much to do here, such as:

  • Checking out the local architecture, with its wooden buildings and stone churches
  • Visiting the churches and monasteries around Suzdal, with most of them dating back to the 17th or 18th century. Some of these are extremely unusual, such as those that have concave tents, which cannot be found anywhere else other than Suzdal
  • Touring the Suzdal Kremlin
  • Taking a walk along the Kamenka River, or on the frozen river if you are visiting in the winter. You could even give ice fishing a try
  • Shopping at local markets

There is one more thing that Suzdal is famous for…

This is known as medovukha, which is a Russian cider that has been made from honey. This is a famous drink that everyone visiting Suzdal should try, but make sure that you do not purchase any off the streets, as counterfeits are common.

Russia is such a vast country, with every part of it offering such a different experience. As you can see from the places listed above, every town and city in Russia has something unique about it, and this is exactly what makes the country such a magical one to explore. From subtropical gardens and healing lakes to rafting along a mountain river and ice fishing, you never know what you will find when travelling around Russia.

Even though Abu Dhabi is often overshadowed by the ultra-modern playground of Dubai, this Emirates’ capital is slowly becoming recognized as an alluring tourist attraction in its own right.

Between the vastness of its beaches, the opulence of its mosques and the rapidly growing cultural and artistic landscape, you won’t be left short of intriguing sights to explore in the enchanting metropolis of the Gulf.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque

Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates | © Luciano Mortula – LGM / Shutterstock

If there is one absolute must-visit while in Abu Dhabi, then it has to be stunning Sheikh Zayed Mosque.

The construction of this monumental sacred sight was completed in 2007 and it has since been visited by curious visitors in hundreds of thousands. 

It features its signature pristine white façade made out of Macedonian marble, as well as 82 domes in seven different sizes.

The courtyard of the mosque, which extends for about 17,000 m2, is composed of a picturesque mosaic that is thought to be largest one in the world. Due to its sheer size and mesmerizing design, it represents an attraction in its own right.

The inside of the mosque treasures what is considered to be the largest carpet in the world. It measures 5,627 m2 and was crafted using New Zealand wool. This ornate carpet took almost two years to complete.

Louvre Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi, United Arab, Emirates, December 5, 2017: The Louvre. Visitors looking at Greek and Roman sculptures dating from the 5th century BC, on loan from the Louvre, Paris.

Visitors examining ancient sculptures in Louvre Museum, Abu Dhabi | © LizCoughlan / Shutterstock

This breathtaking art complex is one of the most recent additions of Abu Dhabi’s growing cultural palette.

Louvre Abu Dhabi was established as a part of a 30-year agreement with the French government and its Parisian counterpart.

In 2017, ten years after the approval was granted, Louvre Abu Dhabi was opened on Saadiyat Island to great fanfare.

The concept behind pieces showcased in the museum aims to bridge the gap between eastern and western art; the exhibition space artists from all over the globe, including Ai Weiwei, Paul Gaugin and Vincent Van Gogh.

The most buzzed about piece of art that found its way to Louvre Abu Dhabi was undoubtedly Salvador Mundi, painted by none other than Leonardo da Vinci. The purchase of the painting marked the most valuable art transaction as of 2017, worth a whopping $450.3 million.

Aside from the impressive collection it hosts, architecturally speaking, the museum is a work of art in its own right.

The construction features a one-of-a-kind web patterned roof which allows for the sun rays to shine through. The effect is meant to mimic the shade created by date palm tree.

Ferrari World Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - MAY 23, 2013: Aerial view of Ferrari World Park is the largest indoor amusement park in the world.

Aerial view of Ferrari World, Abu Dhabi | © Burachet / Shutterstock

Abu Dhabi’s most beloved theme park should be on top of the to-do list for every visitor who is looking to pump up their adrenaline.

Perched on the Yas Island, this bustling playground features over a dozen rides, which range from go-karts to flight simulators to teacup rides.

Since the thrills are numerous and diverse, the theme park can be enjoyed by the entire family.

Other than white-knuckle rides, Ferrari World also hosts shows featuring stunts, acrobats and other kinds of exciting performances.

And when you need to take a break from all the action, you can always fill your belly in one of the park’s excellent restaurants or go shopping in Ferrari’s largest retail space in the world.

Emirates Heritage Club Heritage Village

ABU DHABI - 23 MAY: Heritage village in Abu Dhabi on 23 May 2016

Emirates Heritage Club Heritage Village, Abu Dhabi | © DavidNNP / Shutterstock

Due to Abu Dhabi’s markedly modern character, it might be difficult to grasp what the region looked like before all the luxurious motels and vast shopping malls started popping up.

However, all you need to do its head over to the Emirates Heritage Club Heritage Village and you’ll be able to catch a glimpse of the Emirati way of life as it once was.

This reconstructed space represents a traditional village where the old-school Gulf lifestyle still lives on.

Here, you will find everything from old workshops to spice vendors to old irrigation systems, even a recreation of the traditional souq.

And to learn more about the pre-oil history of the region, you can always head to the open museum that’s contained within the village, where you can find out all the information on how life used to look on the Arabian Peninsula.

Mangrove National Park

Abu Dhabi, UAE - Feb 9 2013 Kayaking in Abu Dhabi mangrove national park

Kayaking in Abu Dhabi Mangrove National Park | © Greysline / Shutterstock

Once you’ve got a taste of Abu Dhabi’s state-of-the-art urban landscape, you might be in the mood to experience something a little wilder.

Worry not, because the Emirates’ capital is nothing if not accommodating for every stripe of traveler. 

And the perfect place for thrill-seekers and nature lovers to embark on an adventure would be the Mangrove National Park, Abu Dhabi’s prime outdoor getaway.

To get up close and personal with the flora and fauna surrounding the city, it’s best to look into booking a kayak or canoe tour into the mangrove forest, where you can feast your eyes on the serenity of the surrounding nature.

The most stunning sight in Mangrove National Park is undoubtedly the colorful flamingos, who assemble along the tidal flats for all visitors to see.

Other than flamingos, this protected reserve is also home to other kinds of exotic animal life, including herons and crabs.

Qasr Al Hosn

Qasr al-Hosn tower - the oldest stone building in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

Qasr al Hosn tower, Abu Dhabi | © Philip Lange

The oldest tower in entire Abu Dhabi, Qasr Al Hosn is a sight not to be missed.

This monumental edifice, also called “The White Fort”, was constructed in the 18th century, first serving as a watchtower meant to protect the only freshwater well on the island of Abu Dhabi.

Over the years, it has been expanded and renovated many times. Historically, it used to be the place of permanent residence of the ruling sheiks and until 1966, it operated as the official seat of the government.

These days, the fort is partially opened to the public; it houses an exhibition space which details the history of the Qasr Al Hosn and Abu Dhabi. In it, you will find a collection of photographs, artefact and weapons that illustrate the state’s pre-oil boom historical trajectory.

Manarat Al Saadiyat

Abu Dhabi / UAE - Feb 5: Saadiyat Manarat; the high-tech center for interactive, local cultural displays & international exhibitions on Feb 5 ,2015 in Al Saadiyat island, Abu Dhabi, UAE.

Manarat al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi | © PiakPPP / Shutterstock

Abu Dhabi’s latest effort to appeal to the more high brow visitors has been embodied in Manarat Al Saadiyat, an intriguing complex dedicated to the city’s booming arts and culture scene.

Nestled at the heart of Saadiyat, Manarat Al Saadiyat regularly hosts exhibitions, performances and other culture-oriented community events, and all visitors are welcomed to join. 

During your visit to Manarat Al Saadiyat, you can join a local workshop, attend movie screenings, listen to a panel discussion or simply enjoy a cup of coffee or a hearty meal in the company of other art lovers.

At the Terrace, Manarat Al Saadiyat’s outdoor space you can take a moment to relax amidst greenery or even grab a mat and join one of the local yoga classes.

Corniche

Corniche promenade in Abu Dhabi, UAE

Corniche promenade in Abu Dhabi | © trabantos / Shutterstock

One of Emirates’ main draws are the long sandy beaches and mesmerizing emerald waters.

In Abu Dhabi, you’ll find the most alluring stretches of beach along the famous Corniche Road, which curves along the western coast of the Abu Dhabi Island for about 8 kilometers.

The pristine beach has all the amenities you’ll need for your day of fun in the sun, including chairs, parasols, changing rooms and showers.

Other than long stretches of sand, Corniche is a true haven for outdoor adventures, since this promenade also features opulent fountain, relaxing green oases, as well as play areas for children.

Corniche is also one of the prime spots for cycling, and a great way to experience the promenade is to rent a bike and pedal your way along the seafront.

And if you’re not exactly in a rush to get physically active, you can always go on an epicurean adventure in one of the numerous waterfront eateries and cafés that are dotted along the Corniche.

Emirates Park Zoo

Lioness in Emirates Park Zoo. Abu Dhabi - UAE. 24 December 2016.

Lioness in Emirates Park Zoo | © Mohammed Shamaa / Shutterstock

In a city that is known worldwide for its wealth and opulence, it should come as no surprise that Abu Dhabi is also home to one of the largest and most diverse zoos on the planet.

The Emirates Park Zoo, which counts over 1800 animals belonging to 250 different exotic species from all over the world, guarantees a fun afternoon, whether you are traveling with children or on your own.

The wildlife you’ll get to see in the Zoo includes lions, leopards, giraffes, elephants, cheetahs and many others. The Arabian peninsula is home to some of the most fascinating birds of prey, and you’ll find many here.

You can also get up close and personal with various exotic species in the petting zoo. The park also organizes elephant and giraffe feedings, and both adults and children are invited to partake.

And if you’d rather watch someone else feed the beasts, you can always enjoy the spectacle from afar; for example, you can catch the daily feedings of Zoo’s Nile crocs.

Empty Quarter

Dunes of the Rub al Khali or Empty Quarter. Straddling Oman, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Yemen.

Rub al Khali or Empty Quarter, Abu Dhabi | © Damian Ryszawy

Abu Dhabi doesn’t only produce the best and biggest when it comes to man-made creations.

This bustling hub is also located on the edges of what is referred to as the Empty Quarter or Rub al’ Khali, the largest continuous sand surface on Earth.

And even though this area is completely devoid of man-made creations, plants and, of course, water, you can bet that the locals still know how to turn even the seemingly hostile desert into a playground for all kinds of adventures.

All it takes is a short car ride from the center from Abu Dhabi to find yourself transported from sleek skyscrapers to seemingly never-ending sandy vastness.

Once you reach the desert, exploring the dunes can be done in various exciting ways.

One of the most popular ones includes riding the camels; however, if you want something a little more adrenaline-pumping, you can always go on a wild dune buggy ride or perhaps safari-style jeep.

If you are looking to truly grasp the immensity of the desert, make sure to book a balloon tour, where you will be able to admire the sandy stretches from up in the air.

For something a little more low-key, you can book an overnight stay in one of the desert resorts and indulge in your very own Arabian Nights experience.

Marina Mall

Abu Dhabi, UAE - April 21, 2013: inside of Marina Mall, arranged over four levels and an observatory, is one of the biggest shopping mall in Abu Dhabi. Lifestyle, luxury, shopping concept.

Interior of Marina Mall, Abu Dhabi | © Benny Marty / Shutterstock

It goes without saying that no visit to the UAE would be complete without indulging in some of the most exclusive shopping experiences on the planet.

And Abu Dhabi has just the place to shop ‘till you drop.

Marina Mall is more than just your regular shopping center; these days, it represents a bona fide landmark of the city.

Located just a short from the lush Corniche Beach, the Marina Mall is a great alternative when you don’t feel like lazing around in the sizzling sun.

In this enormous space, you will be able to browse for the garments of all stripes: from small local designers to high-street brands to full-blown haute couture.

If you’re not feeling like having a bout of retail therapy, there are other things to do in Marina Mall that don’t include maxing out on your card. For example, you can climb up the 100-meter viewing platform to get a breath-taking panorama of Abu Dhabi.

Alternatively, you can go ice skating (always a welcome break from the desert heat!), bowling or catching the latest cinematic releases.

By now, it should be crystal clear as to why Abu Dhabi represents one of the most alluring destinations on the Arabian peninsula. Between its ultra-sleek character, opulence at every step and hospitability unlike anywhere else in the world, we are sure the Emirates’ capital will quickly become the destination of your dreams.

Ah, Europe! The haute couture of France, the high of Kensington High in London, the amore of Rome, and the luck of the Irish in Ireland. Sounds like something for everyone! But if your limiting your definition of Europe to those few countries, you’ve only got the half of it.

Historically, Europe was divided into two blocks, the Western and the Eastern. The West is associated with democracy, capitalism, and stability. The East is associated with Communism, and is also generally less economically stable. So, when it comes to vacations, the choice is obvious. Why spend time in an economically ( and usually meteorologically) disadvantaged communist country when you can be exploring the beaches of Monaco with your top off?

Well, it turns out that there is a lot of charm to Eastern Europe, a lot of people with a lot of heart, tremendous beauty, and even some really bizarre and interesting customs and habits that you might want to experience first hand. Here are some of the more compelling reasons you might want to see Europe from the path less taken.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

It’s the home of the Croatian language and literature, the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” the home to painters, philosophers, mathematicians, physicists and scholars, the elite crown on the head of all Croatian tourism – but most importantly, it’s the place where “Game of Thrones” is filmed.

It may be known for its gothic castles, history, and beauty, but no one can deny Dubrovnik’s recent surge in popularity from fans flocking to see the real Kings Landing and Quarth, and Dubrovnik is only too happy to capitalize on its newfound windfall. In fact a little shop down from Zudioska Ulica even has a replica of the “Game of Thrones” throne that you can sit on for 30 kn, or free, if you buy the store’s merchandise.

However, if you are more of a purist, there are still many wonderful things to do and see in Dubrovnik. The Lazareti is an old quarantine hospital that now serves as the cultural center for concerts, theater and exhibitions, and Dubrovnik is also a great place to explore the Adriatic Sea. There are many agencies in Dubrovnik that provide yacht and motor boat rentals operating from the ACI rentals. Just be sure to BYO food and drink. The Dubrovnik Sea is unpredictable, and you wouldn’t want to get stuck out on the sea with no sustenance.

Budapest, Hungary

If you keep au courant in Eastern Europe, Budapest is the place to do it. While Dubrovnik is dubbed the “pearl of the Adriatic,” Budapest is the Paris of the East. Budapest is the largest city and capital of Hungary, and if you’re hungary for a little of everything, Budapest will not disappoint.

If you find history a bit dry, you haven’t seen the historical sights of Budapest. Here no historical building comes without its own weird and wild anecdotes and features. The Parliament is so immense, the soil surrounding the Danube actually had to be enforced with seven feet of concrete just to support its astounding structure. The Royal Palace is also quite a stunner. Word has it that when a Turkish Ambassador saw its wealth and grandeur, he completely forgot his opening address, and could only say, “The emperor sends his respects.”

And if you want a little conversation piece to take home, be sure to visit Memento Park. Once you make it through the statues of the politicians, and the exhibition about the 1956 revolution, you have the opportunity to see some of Budapest’s lighter side. Possible souvenirs include T-shirts which poke fun at communism, German Trabant model cars, and CDs of Hungarian fight songs.

Also, don’t skip out on the night life. The Trafo House of the Contemporary Arts is the transformer building turned nightclub and most modern cultural center. On ground level, you will find Hungarian and international experimental dance, and with a lively upstairs bar and basement disco, you’re bound to get your party in haute couture.

Krakow, Poland

Unfortunately, the associations with Krakow are not the best, but if history needs never to be forgotten, Krakow is doing a pretty good job of keeping it alive.

However, even though Krakow might be known for its dark past, it is also known for its vibrant present. While the city is sure to acknowledge its dark years under Nazi occupation, most Krakow events are celebrations of the Jewish culture, rather than bleak reminders. The Jewish Culture Festival held there in June and July is the biggest one of its kind in the world, complete with tours, concerts, workshops, and a big Saturday night finale.

If you like your celebrations non-denominational, Krakow has something for you too. The Taste Vodka- vodka tasting tour is sure to be one not to be remembered, and the Kazimierez food tour takes you through 5-6 authentic Polish restaurants, so you may want to loosen the belt a little.

Lastly, you would be remiss without taking in the sights. Krakow’s Old Town and Wawel Castle both place highly on the UNESCO list of historic sites, and the Kazimierez district is rich in Jewish history dating back to the 1500’s.

Moscow, Russia

Want to know one of the best things about Moscow? How about no daylight savings time? Imagine never having to lose that hour of sleep! No wonder Moscow is the second most populous city in Eastern Europe!

You wouldn’t expect the capital of Russia (and formerly the Soviet Union) not to be extremely proud of its 869 years as the financial and political center of the country, and you wouldn’t be hip if you didn’t include Red Square in your visit. The Red Square is the heart of the city, and the first stop for most visitors.

Be sure to stop by Lenin’s Museum for a quick glimpse of the leader’s embalmed body and speculate about whether it is really him or not, and pay a visit to the St. Basil’s Cathedral for some of that inimitable gothic architecture. The Kremlin Museum and Grand Kremlin Palace has rooms dating back to the 16th century, but only an exclusive few will be admitted at a time, so book your reservations well ahead in advance.
If the history doesn’t do it for you, do like the Russians do and drink – coffee that is! Bulka bakery is known for its outstanding coffee and desserts, and most Moscow restaurants serve a coffee drink called Raf that’s rumored to knock your super latte mocha espresso out of the Moskva River.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

Talk about not going with the status quo. Ljubljana is so nonconformist that it even defies you to pronounce its name. If you think the name Ljubljana is the only sign that it’s too cool for school attitude, there’s more where that came from. In fact, the hippest thing about Ljubljana is the fact that it chooses not to be hip. Ljubljana has no world famous attractions, so you don’t have to worry about crossing major must sees off your list, which means you can chill out in this city in any way you choose.

Of course, that’s not to say there’s nothing to see or do in Ljubljana – quite the opposite in fact. The Zmajski Most Dragon Bridge is guarded by four intricately detailed dragons bearing the city’s coat of arms and Tivoli Park is often cited as the most beautiful and historic amusement parks in all of Europe.

But, when it comes down to it perhaps one of the most nonconformist thing about Ljubjana is its music. Metelkova mesto is a squat turned six club mega party each with its own style of music and program. Gala Hala’s strangely, fun music ranges from indie to rap, to hip hop to funk. Gromka is a similar, smaller version of Gala Hala, usually featuring rockabilly, retro 90’s music, and rock alternative. Menza pri kuritu is all about the punk and metal, Jalla Jalla is gay, and Channel Zero is electronic. Guess you can say Ljubljana is pretty progressive; that is, if you can say Ljubljana at all.

Kotor, Montenegro

When in Rome, do like the Romans do, and when in Kotor do like the Kotorans do, and in Kotor that means getting lost. Everyone in Kotor gets lost, even the locals get lost, so don’t count on asking them for directions. But the good news is that, when you’re getting lost in Kotor, you’re getting lost in one of the most magical places on earth.

No one knows exactly when Kotor was founded, but archaeologist are sure that it was before the time of Homer, that it was Greek, and it was about IV-VII BC, which means there are some stunning and unusual geological and architectural features in Kotor that you’re not likely to want to pass up.

One of the best and most thrilling ways of appreciating the geology of Kotor is by scaling the Upper Town Walls. The Upper Town Walls could be described as a smaller version of the Great Wall of China on almost vertical cliffs, and you’ll be rewarded for climbing the 1350 steps with the view of Kotor from the Church of Our Lady of Health halfway up, and the St. John’s Fortress at the top. Be sure to choose your footwear wisely, and set aside about an hour for the full ascent.

While you’ll want to start your climb up the walls pretty early, you’ll definitely want to stick around after the sun goes down. When the bars reach their 1am liquor curfew, the party moves to the nightclubs. The locals say Maximus is the place for letting their hair down and Secondi Porto runs a close second. So get your Kotor running!

Prague, Czech Republic

Czech please! Why not start with the good stuff? One of the first things you may realize about Czech clothing is how little of it there is, on the beach at least. Even though much of Czech Republic is landlocked, there are those few naturist and nudist beaches, and you won’t see locals batting so much as an eye.

And while we’re on the subject of natural attractions, the Czech Republic has no shortage of parks and forests that haven’t seen much change in the last hundred years. It’s also a veritable treasure trove of castles – Czech out the Chervena Lota chateau in South Bohemia. It’s painted Renaissance red, and is situated in the middle of a pond, linked to the land by a stone bridge. The nearby Kasperk castle, located near the mountainous Bohemian forests is a gothic legacy to the reign of Emperor Charles IV, and also worth seeing.

Bratislava, Slovakia

Need one more thing to put on your bucket list? How about spelunking in Slovakia? The area of Slovakia has been settled since the Paleolithic era, and that makes for some pretty dramatic geology and spelunking is one of the best, and most fun, ways to check it out. You can spelunk your way through the over 2,400 subterranean caves like the Sobsinska Ice Cave in Slovak Paradise National Park, or the Demanovska Cave of Liberty in the low Tatras. Check out the Slovak Caves Administration website for more info.

If you have a little vampire blood in you, you’ll surely want to take a tour of the Slovakian Castles. The Bratislava Castle is more or less the symbol of the Slovak state and the Bojnice Castle is a gothic masterpiece that cemented centuries of Hungarian rule. In fact, the Orava Castle is so dramatic, it was used for the filming of Nosferatu in 1922! ( insert spooky laughter here.)

Just remember, the food is as heavy as the mood, so be careful to keep your pierogi consumption to a minimum!

What do you think? Is Eastern Europe the new more interesting, cheaper, and more fun cousin of Western Europe, or are you still not willing to deal with the potential impossibility of not being able to get your favorite smoothie every morning? Let us know if you’ve been, what you’ve seen, or what you think about going a little off the radar on your next vacation.

Asia, our planet’s biggest continent, is a treasure trove of destinations that guarantee to reward you with an experience of a lifetime.

Between futuristic metropolises, ancient historical sights and secluded tropical getaways, a travel debut to Asia can be made as broad or as specific as you’d like it to be.

Once you take into consideration the sheer size and immense diversity of this landmass, picking out what to see first might start to seem a bit overwhelming.

Worry not, rookie travelers!

To help you make the first steps towards the Asian holiday that you deserve, we have crated a list of some of the most popular getaways that will satisfy all your globe-trotting needs.

Seoul, South Korea

SEOUL, KOREA - DECEMBER 31, 2016 - Colorful billboards on the street of Seoul at night.

Busy colorful street in Seoul, Korea | © DiegoMariottini / Shutterstock

In recent years, South Korea has become the embodiment of the “Asian cool”, in large part thanks to the ever-growing popularity of music, dramas and the booming beauty industry hailing from the peninsula.

And the place that perfectly encapsulates all the factors that make Korea so alluring is none other than Seoul. In a single day, you can go from sipping tea with the Insadong monks to watching the change of guards in front of the immense Gyeongbokgung Palate to soaking up the views from the high and mighty N Seoul Tower.

And in the evening, there’s no better way to experience the city like a local than heading to your nearest barbeque restaurant to feast on mouthwatering samgyeopsal and partying the night away in one of the Seoul’s many karaoke bars.

If you want to experience Seoul’s thriving arts and culture scene, head over to the bustling Hongdae neighborhood, where you will be welcomed with a host of hip cafés, street performers and jumping nightclubs.

Alternatively, make your way towards Myeongdong, where you can shop ‘till you drop for the newest skin care and fashion, all while bubbly K-pop tunes blast from the speakers.

Tokyo, Japan

Two geishas wearing traditional japanese kimono among Sensoji Temple in Asakusa Tokyo, Japan.

Sensoji Temple, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan | © Phattana Stock / Shutterstock

Regardless of how many Asian destinations keep getting discovered, forgotten, then re-discovered, Tokyo is probably the one city that has remained firmly at the top of many travelers’ bucket lists.

The eternal allure of the Japanese capital shouldn’t be a surprise, either: Tokyo is quite literally like no other place on Earth.

For the curious travelers, it offers a plethora of intriguing cultural sites and institutions, from the dreamy Studio Ghibli Museum to the state-of-the-art Miraikan.

On the other hand, dyed-in-the-wool Japan lovers can enjoy getting lost in the streets of Akihabara and Harajuku, where they can get their full-on manga and anime fix, but also witness some of the most kawaii examples of Japanese fashion.

And if you want to avoid your visit to Tokyo turning into a sensory overload, you can always seek refuge in one of its urban oases, which will provide a much needed respite from the frenzy of Shibuya and Shinjuku.

These gems are embodied in the perfectly manicured Kiyosumi and Hamarikyu gardens, but also between the walls of the gorgeous temples found in the old Asakusa district.

Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Wat seen across the lake

Angkor Wat as seen across the lake | © Tom Roche / Shutterstock

To most people, this north-western Cambodian town is best known for being a gateway to the world largest temple complex: the majestic Angkor.

This vast historic sight, located just 7 kilometers from the center of Siem Reap, dates back to 12th century, time when King Suryavarman II ruled the land. 

The temple grounds cover a whopping 400 acres and counts over seventy temples and other religious sites.

The stucco façades of that grace these ago-old constructions feature intricate designs that depict scenes from the everyday life in the Khmer Empire, but also celestial beings who acted as messengers between humans and deities.

Other than being a playground for history buffs and architecture lovers, Angkor is also one of the prime spots in the world for sunset-watching.

If you want to bask in the full splendor of Angkor’s sunsets, head over to Phnom Bakheng, where you will be rewarded by some of the most stunning views of the nature surrounding this monumental temple complex.

Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong - March 20, 2017 : Central Soho street

Central Soho Street, Hong Kong | © Sanga Park / Shutterstock

Due to its unique geographical positioning and historical trajectory, Hong Kong has developed into one of the most intriguing metropolises in Asia.

This 7-million city is an ever-growing melting pot, and this cultural phenomenon is decidedly felt on every step of its busy streets. 

First-time travelers to Hong Kong are bound to be swept of their feet by the jaw-dropping views from the Victoria Peak and the majestic Tian Tan Buddha, a 34-meter statue that sits on the serene Lantau Island.

Visitors who preferred to blend in with the locals can venture into the labyrinth of streets and alleyways found in Sheung Wan and Soho, where a plethora of cozy cafes, busy eateries and buzzing markets await.

For a unique, old-school way to explore the city, make sure to board the iconic “Ding Ding” tram, sit back, and soak up the bustling urban landscape as it passes you by.

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam e January, 2017: street view of Pham Ngu Lao street, the backpacker district of Saigon.

Pham Ngu Lao Street, also known as the Backpacker Street, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam | © Sean Hsu / Shutterstock

The Vietnamese capital represents a beautiful chaos of opulent colonial architecture, rushing scooters and busy street markets.

Saigon, as the city is also known, is also one of the prime gastronomical destinations, where just about every stripe of eatery, from a local pho joint to an exclusive rooftop dining establishment, has the potential to send your taste buds on a wild ride.

And when your palate is pleased and your belly is full, head over to the the Backpacker Street, a stretch favorited by wide-eyed adventure-seekers – this district, which comes alive at night, helped establish the HCMC’s reputation as one of the most party-loving cities in Asia.

Ho Chi Minh City also boasts close proximity to one of Vietnam’s most attractive destination, the Mekong Delta.

Tour operators located throughout the city offer one-day trips to this mystical river mouth, where you can enjoy an intimate boat ride through the Mekong’s backwaters, try out local still water fish or visit the nearby coconut workshop.

Bali, Indonesia

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple in Bali island. Hindu temple in flowers on Beratan lake, Asia. Major water temple Bali island, Indonesia. Hindu water temple - culture symbol of Indonesia, Asia landscape

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple in Bali, Indonesia | © Dmitry Polonskiy / Shutterstock

Over the last half of the century, Bali has become one of the most coveted travel destinations for holidaymakers looking to experience the ultimate tropical paradise.

And what else to expect from the island that is believed to have been created by gods?

Between miles of pristine beaches, secluded inland temples and lush vegetation, Bali is guaranteed to please every variety of visitor.

The coastal areas of the island have several well-established holiday resorts, including Kuta (favored by party-loving travelers, especially from Australia), Seminyak (where more aspirational, bohemian crowds gather) and Uluwatu (surfer’s paradise).

If you want to experience the full extent of Bali’s famed mysticism, make sure to spend a few days in Ubud, a place where you can witness age-old Balinese dances, practice yoga and meditation or simply surrender yourself to the luscious nature that surrounds it.

Kathmandu, Nepal

Bhaktapur is UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal.

Bhaktapur is UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal | © Hakat / Shutterstock

Between the uncomfortable elevation, the jam-packed traffic and incessant pollution, the first contact with Kathmandu might seem a bit overwhelming to the inexperienced traveler.

However, those who decide to scratch between the city’s dusty surface are bound to be rewarded with an experience of a lifetime.

To begin with, the Nepalese capital is home to some of the most spectacular sacred sights in the entire world.

And a good few of them are nestled at the Durbar Square where, in the early morning hours, you can witness crowds of devotees gathering to make their offerings. 

On the north-eastern edges of the town, you will find Bodhnath Stupa, one of the tallest and most intricately decorates stupas in the world.

Perched atop a hill in the Kathmandu Valley is the Swayambhunath, referred to by many as the “Monkey Temple” due to all the playful primates who gather to interact with the visitors.

In case you’re wondering, Kathmandu is not all about history lessons and holy sites. If you want to explore the city’s busy cafés and dining spots, make your way towards the Thamel district, where tourists and locals comfortably mix to create a boisterous atmosphere that will provide a welcome change after long hours of sightseeing.

Singapore

Skyline at Gardens at the Bay, Singapore

Skyline at Gardens at the Bay, Singapore | © Kanuman / Shutterstock

The south-eastern city-state is on a fast track to become one of the most alluring destinations on the continent.

And when you take into consideration it’s rapidly-evolving trajectory, Singapore’s growing popularity as a tourist getaway shouldn’t come as a surprise.

When you think about it, the Lion City has it all: rich cultural diversity and efficient infrastructure, all tucked away amidst an intriguing blend of modern, colonial and traditional architecture.

And owing to its multi-faceted character, you can rest assured your Singaporean travel will be packed with all kinds of adventures: from getting lost in the busy streets of Chinatown to admiring exotic wildlife at the Singapore Zoo to maxing out your credit card in the glitzy shops on the Orchard Road.

The city also boasts a refreshing amount of urban greenery, so whenever your feet get tired after a long day of sightseeing, you can unwind in the tranquility of Singapore’s oases, such as Padang or Botanic Gardens.

Bangkok, Thailand

Grand palace and Wat phra keaw at sunset

Grand palace and Wat Phra Keaw at sunset | © Travel mania / Shutterstock

As someone who is looking to explore Asia for the first time, how many times have you heard people raving about Thailand and its delightfully chaotic capital of Bangkok?

There’s a reason why the popularity of this Thai metropolis never seems to wane – the 11-milion city has the ability to amaze and keep every stripe of traveler on their toes.

And yes, while it’s most known for its hedonistic nightlife scene, Bangkok’s immense historical and cultural heritage transcends its modern-day reputation.

For one, no trip to Bangkok is complete without a visit to the Grand Palace, a mesmerizing royal residential complex nestled at the heart of the city.

In Wat Pho, you will be greeted with the famous Reclining Buddha, a holy statue that measures over 46 meters.

Of course, if you don’t one to miss out on what Bangkok is always praised for – the never-ending party – head over to the Khaosan Road, Silum or Sukhumvit and you won’t be left disappointed with the outburst of restaurants, clubs and bars. 

Taipei, Taiwan

The main gate of National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall ( National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall ), Taipei, Taiwan with the national theater, music hall, and Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall at back

The main gate of National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, Taipei, Taiwan | © HTU / Shutterstock

The charm of the Taiwanese capital lies in its intriguing blend of historical influences, all which have helped shape the wonderful hub that Taipei represents today.

And of the first places where you’ll be able to notice this mish-mash of historical presences will be in the city’s architecture, which somehow manages to seamlessly incorporate ancient Buddhist temples, sleek skyscrapers and meditative Japanese-style hot springs. 

Its most impressive edifice is the National Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, which proudly stands as the symbol of the city.

Eating has to be one of city’s favorite pastimes, and you’d be hard pressed to find a local who isn’t actively enthusiastic about Taipei’s dining offers.

You can start your Taiwanese culinary adventure by visiting one of the city’s popular night markets, where you’ll get a chance to sample the very best of local cuisine without committing yourself to one full dish.

Agra, India

Amar Singh Gate of Agra Fort, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India

Amar Singh Gate of Agra Fort, Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India | © Krishna.Wu / Shutterstock

Even if you’re not immediately familiar with the name of this Uttar Pradesh town, you will definitely know its most famous attraction – the Taj Mahal.

Millions of tourists flock to Agra each year just so they could catch a glimpse of this monumental mausoleum as it reflects in the glistening waters of the ornamental pool at the front.

And yet, the Taj is only where the wonders of Agra begin: this popular travel destination is a bona fide treasure trove of architectural feats from the Mughal era.

Among its most striking examples are the Agra Fort and Akbar’s Tomb, both of which date back to the 17th century.

Luscious gardens that stretch in between these majestic historical edifices shouldn’t be overlooked, either.

Perhaps the most enchanting one is the Mehtab Bagh, which lies on the opposite side of the Yamuna River. This vast green expanse, which was first built by Emperor Babur, had its shine restored during the 1990s, so you can rest assured you will experience it in its full verdant splendor.

If your feet are feeling itchy after reading this list, maybe that’s a good sign you should bite the bullet and finally book the ticket for the Asian destination that has peaked your interest. Wherever you choose to land, we are positive you will discover whole new worlds unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.

Ah, the playgrounds of the rich and famous. The resorts on Lake Geneva, the beach adventures on the islands of Fiji, the massage pavillions at Seychelles, the luxury cruises around the Mediterranean Islands. Been there, done that? Seen one elegant spa, seem ‘em all?

Anyone can pay oodles of dollars to live like a rock star for a few days, but if you’re sick of the schtick, you might want to get real on the rail.

The last of the great transcontinental railways, and the longest in the world, the Trans-Siberian railway is 5,776 miles of railway stretching between Moscow’s Yarovlasky Station and the Vladivostock. It takes a minimum of a week to traverse.

One of the first things you should know if you’re planning a trip on the Trans Siberian railway is that there are three routes to choose from. The Trans Siberian classic goes from Moscow to Vladivostok, covering the whole 5,776 mile expanse. The Trans-Mongolian veers left at Lake Baikal, runs across Mongolia and ends in Beijing, and the Trans Manchurian skirts around east Mongolia, dips into the busy border town of Harbin in China, and also ends in Bejing.

The trip packages start at $85, the memories: priceless. Your trips will take you through breathtaking churches of hurl you through birch forests, deliver you across the seven steppes and through seven time zones in what is sure to be the wildest ride of your life.

St. Petersburg

What do you call a person from St. Petersburg? A St. Petersburger. If you’re making a trip on the Transcontinental, you’ll want to stop in this legendary city and walk in the footsteps of some of the most famous St. Petersburgers of all time, and when it comes to famous St. Petersburgers, they don’t come much greater than Peter the Great. St. Peter founded the city in 1703, and there’s not much in St. Petersburg that’s not somehow related to the great tsar and his predecessors.

If your idea of a day at the museum is a little closer to the movie, “A Night at the Museum,” you are bound to appreciate the Kunstkamera. Founded by Peter the Great himself, this museum is a little more about morbid fascination than art appreciation.

Back in those days, people feared the weird. Anything that was anomalous to the norm was considered to be a creation of the devil. However, a fearless leader wants a country of fearless citizens, and Peter the Great was determined to be a leader of the brave. He commissioned the construction of the Kunstkamera as a place in which the abnormal was displayed in hopes of educating the people and thus relieving them of their fears. In fact, Peter even offered a reward to anyone willing to contribute to his den of abnormality. The result: one of the biggest collection of unborn fetuses, two headed deer, and large-headed unborn children ever. Not for the faint of heart, but then again, not much on this Trans-Siberian journey is.

Ulan Ude

Nowadays, we all want to get in touch with our spiritual side. How about getting in touch with your Mongolian Shamanistic side? Ulan Ude in Buryatia Russia was first settled by the nomadic Buryat Mongols, following the split of the Russian organized church in 1650. The group of “Old Believers” were forced to flee their homes, and escape to Siberia to practice religious freedom, the animistic and shamanic ethnic religion of Mongolia. Ulan Ude provided this group with their new home.

However, just when the group believed they had found their religious haven, there was further shake up when, in 1900, the start of the locomotive revolution and the building of the Trans Siberian railroad turned their sacred ground when into a prosperous trading hub. Still, the Buryat Mongols kept their stronghold in the city where they continue to make up more than 20% of the population. Their cultural influence is just part of what makes Ulan Ude the interesting and diverse city it is today.

Other points of interest in Ulan Ude include the world’s largest Lenin head, located in the city square. You know what they say: “big head, big ideas…”

Lake Baikal

When most of us think of a trip to the lake, we expect a tranquil, experience; a chance to get someone on one time with nature, perhaps get in a bit of fishing. Rule 1 of the Trans Siberian railroad: Expect the unexpected.

You’ll find no relaxing day of fishing at Lake Baikal, in fact the fish you encounter here probably have very little in common to what you might call a day’s catch in your neighborhood fishing hole.

Lake Baikal is the world’s deepest and oldest freshwater lake, curving for 400 miles through South Eastern Asia, north of the Mongolian border, in a cleft at which Asia is about to split apart. According to geologists, if you want to get an idea of what the world looked like before the continents split apart, Lake Baikal is a pretty accurate representation.

With a maximum depth of 5,000 feet deep atop a four-mile thick layer of sediment, oxygen-rich Lake Baikal is home to some of the more bizarre aquatic life forms.

If your looking for fish of the edible variety, the golymyanka comes highly recommended by the seals. Geologists believe this semi-transparent pink fish that gives birth to live young is a holdover from the Mesozoic era, which, according to them, is just about when Lake Baikal was formed. Apparently, many of the golymyanka’s 20-25 billion-year-old friends make their home in the Baikal, too, and if your traveling on the Trans Siberian, you’ll want to make sure to pay a visit to them all.

Also of note is the Baikal’s backdrop. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and self-reliant villages of the taiga, you’ll find the some of the vistas of unparalleled beauty that give the Trans-Siberian adventure its reputation for breathtaking glory.

Ural Mountains

Fossils of 267-year-old crowned crocodile dinosaurs? Prehistoric, virtually invisible high-tech nanospirals? Forgotten stone idols? It’s just another day in the Ural Mountains. The Ural mountains are an ancient mountain range located in what most think of as the eastern boundary between Europe and Asia, but most are more interested in their creation than their location.

According to geologists, the Urals appeared over 300 million years ago in a collision between two islands, Eurussia and Kazakhstania, which no longer exist. To put this into perspective: while most mountain ranges form from the collision of two presently existing land masses, the Urals are formed of land masses that are no longer there, which makes them vestiges of tectonic activity that no longer exists, and a veritable treasure trove for archaeologists, geologists and tourists alike.

Gigantic stone structures, traces of lost civilizations, geographic anomalous zones, unexplained explosions, unanswered questions. it’s enough to take Indiana Jones out of his comfort zone. Does the M-Triangle really hold the presence of unknown forces? Could the Akraim really be the same village that reportedly burnt down 4000 years ago? Is the Patomskiy a natural creation made from an explosion of uranium and ore, or an artificial structure made by man? You’ll never know if you never go. Book your package today!

Ulaanbaatar

Things you should know before you go to Ulaanbaatar:

  • If you step on someone’s shoes accidentally, shake their hand immediately
  • Don’t bargain: the price you see is the price you pay
  • Dress well: Mongolians believe it is bad luck to wear tattered clothing
  • Always start a conversation with seniors by inquiring about their health
  • Always bring a gift when you’re invited for dinner
  • Keep your cool; Mongolians don’t respond well to hostility

Just when you’re wondering if there are any civilized stops of the Trans-Siberian Railway, Ulaanbataar appears. Ulaanbaatar is a Mongolian city known for its nonstop traffic, nonstop nightlife, and nonstop industrial growth, with a bohemian underside that sets it apart from other modern cities. Here you’ll find upscale businessmen on their way home meeting up with punk rockers on their way to the nightclubs as Buddhist monks chant on the steps of Gandhad Kiid. Just be sure your GPS is working; the city is not known as a place for the uneducated navigator. Another word to the wise: dress in layers.

Another word to the wise: dress in layers. Ulaanbaatar is the coldest capital in the world, which means if you go in the winter you may not be able to party your butt off without freezing it off as well. Survey says: go in the summer!

Kazan

Chak-Chak Museum in Kazan, Russian

Chak-Chak Museum in Kazan, Russian | © BestPhotoPlus / Shutterstock.com

If Ulaanbataar sounds like a bit of a cultural mishmash, Kazan certainly is. In fact, the name Kazan means “cooking pot” in Tatar. Located along the Volga River, Kazan is 150 years older than Moscow, and the home of the Volga Tatars, a Turkish population associated with Genghis Khan. However, rest assured; Moscow has taken careful measures to ensure Kazan remains loyal to Russia, and the large Slavic Russian population in Kazan is largely responsible for the cultural conflux that makes Kazan so interesting.

While the cooking pot of culture may be enough of an attraction for most, it is the actual attractions in Kazan that may be the most intriguing.

Let’s start with the Chak-Chak Museum. If the idea of a museum dedicated to food is something of an anomaly to you, let’s just chalk it up to Kazanian pride. The Chak-chak Museum is an interactive museum dedicated to the sweet balls of honey-baked dough that has been the comfort food which sustained the Tatar people for so many years. Learn to bake, learn to appreciate, and Prijatnogo appetita! Make reservations ahead of time, these things are going like hotcakes!

Looking for some more offbeat ways to spend your days in Kazan? How about a trip to the Soviet Lifestyle Museum? Here, you’ll find novelties including a leather jacket made of 120 Communist party cards, made by a loving father for his daughter during hard times, a cockroach trap that works by attracting the bugs with beer, and then dousing them in boiling water, ( at least they’ll have something to lessen the pain), a high voltage mouse trap,(no mercy here) a drinking tumbler that can balance on its bottom edge, (ideal for the less experienced drinker), and a blade sharpener made from a 1980’s cassette player.

Of course, there are many more serious sites to be seen in Kazan, the Kremlin for one,

Vladivostok

If you really can’t resist a vacation without a stop in an exotic island, Vladivostok fits the bill. Located in the very Far East of Russia on the Pacific coast, Vladivostok, is noted for its sandy beaches and verdant islands. However, the beaches here are not so paradisiacal. In fact, you can expect to find boats trolling the water to pick up the excess of debris that has accumulated in the industrialized trading port and naval base, environmentalists, beware!

However, the waters of Vladivostok are not the only thing polluted in the city, so are some of the minds, and if yours is too, you’ll definitely want to check out Museum 18+. You can use your polluted mind to fill in the details.

Getting There is Half the Fun

While there are some destinations that defy the imagination along the Trans-Siberian Railway, it should be mentioned the biggest attraction is the trip itself. It is not unusual to find Trans-Siberian passengers prepared with enough food (and vodka) to feed an army, and the biggest insult to them will be your refusal to partake in the festivities. Within minutes of boarding the train, passengers will begin unwrapping blankets filled with meats, cheeses, cookies, and pastries, and there may be no better way to sample the local culture and if you don’t expect too much in the way of luxury, you should be fine.

Encounters with drunken passengers, alcohol-fueled stewardesses, and long lines for charging electronic devices come with the territory on the Trans-Siberian. One woman tells of her unfortunate experience of a vomit-filled cabin and a father coming down with pneumonia.

While there are more luxurious options, like the superluxe Golden Eagle Express, with amenities such as a private bathroom, powerful shower, and underfloor heating, what you’ll gain in comfort you may lose in experience. Who needs heat anyway, when there’s so much warmth on board?

With the weather warming up, many people are now starting to think about the places they would like to visit this year on their vacation/s.

Are you going to be travelling with your family?

If so, here are some of the best family-friendly destinations in the USA to consider.

Atlanta, Georgia

Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta, Georgia

A typical day at the Georgia Aquarium, Atlanta | © f11photo / Shutterstock.com

The Southern city of Atlanta is one that appeals to all age groups, with such a diverse range of family-friendly activities to choose from.

One of the most popular is the Georgia Aquarium, which was the largest aquarium in the world when it opened in 2005.

There are over 500 different species of marine life that call this aquarium home, from sea lions to whale sharks, the latter of which you can even have the opportunity to swim with.

Want more animal fun?

Head to the Zoo Atlanta, which is home to the only pair of giant panda twins in the USA.

Another fun activity is a visit to The World of Coca Cola, where you will find exhibits detailing the history of the most famous soft drink in the world. The tour of the buildings ends with a stop at the tasting room, where you can sample over 100 different drinks from all over the world.

Looking for more to fill your time with?

Atlanta offers plenty, such as:

  • Boat riding along the Chattahoochee River
  • A visit to the 3000 square foot Children’s Museum of Atlanta
  • A tour of the CNN Center for a behind-the-scenes look at this media outlet
  • Spending the day at the Legoland Discovery Center Atlanta

When travelling with families, finding a restaurant that caters to everybody’s varied tastes can sometimes be difficult…

Atlanta’s Krog Street Market solves this problem by serving up everything from burgers to tapas in its historic 1920’s building. 

The Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon in Arizona

Home to the majestic Grand Canyon, one of the seven wonders of the world, the Grand Canyon National Park is a destination that everybody should visit at least once in their lifetime.

Your entire family will be able to recognize the beauty and importance of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, which was carved out by the Colorado River over the course of millions of years.

A hike along the Grand Canyon is a must-do, and while many of the trails might be quite challenging, the Rim Trail is family-friendly. There is even the option to ride a mule for part of the trail, so anyone who does not want to walk the whole length of it does not need to.

If you are travelling with children who are too young for a hike, another great way to take in your one-of-a-kind surroundings is with a ride on the Grand Canyon Railway, which is famous for offering up one of the most scenic rail journeys in the world.

Portland, Oregon

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls in Portland, Oregon

One of the problems that many families face when travelling as a larger group is transport, especially if there are too many family members to fit in one car.

Visiting a city with a good public transportation network does away with this, which is just one of the reasons as to why Portland is so appealing. Their public transportation system is extremely extensive, as well as great value for money, making it easy to explore the entire city.

Wondering what there is to do in Portland

So much, such as:

  • A visit to the Oregon Zoo
  • Touring the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry
  • A treasure hunt around the Portland Japanese Garden
  • Shopping at the Portland Saturday Market
  • A picnic at Washington Park
  • A hike through Forest Park

For families who love nature, just 30 minutes east of Portland is the Multnomah Falls, a 611-foot waterfall that attracts over two million visitors each year. 

South Padre Island, Texas

Young boy boogie-boarding

Young boy boogie-boarding

Although growing in popularity, South Padre Island is still considered to be quite the hidden gem, offering up a tropical paradise with sandy beaches and warm Gulf waters.

This is the perfect spot for those who would prefer a relaxing beach vacation, rather than an action-packed city vacation, and there are enough activities here to appeal to all age groups and tastes.

If you want to make the most of the warm waters here…

Give boogie boarding a try, or spend an afternoon or two trying your luck at some fishing. Dolphin watching is also popular here, and there are a few boat excursions that will take you out onto the water to give you a closer view of these gorgeous creatures.

Prefer the sand to the sea?

The sand here is actually perfect for sandcastles, to the extent that you will find numerous sandcastle lessons being offered here. If you would prefer a little more action, the north end of Padre Island is where you will find large sand dunes, perfect for some off-road driving.

Looking for beauty treatments?

Look no further! Texas is the 2nd most popular state for skin estheticians, employing 4,430 skin care specialists. If you’re looking for a girl-day out, this is the perfect place.

Need to cool off a bit?

The Schlitterbahn Waterpark and Resort is the place to go, which is a beach-inspired indoor and outdoor waterpark, with a variety of different attractions.

Orlando, Florida

Universal Studios in Florida

Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida | © Kamira / Shutterstock.com

Does your family enjoy theme parks?

If your answer is yes…

Then Orlando is definitely the place to go.

Why?

Because this city is home to an impressive 12 theme parks!

The Walt Disney theme parks tend to be the most popular with families, and these include Disney’s Magic Kingdom, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

You will also find Universal Studios Florida in Orlando, as well as Islands of Adventure, which is also owned and run by Universal Parks and Resorts.

Other theme parks worth checking out include Legoland Florida, Gatorland and Discovery Cove.

If you want to check out multiple parks but are put off by admission prices…

There are many companies that offer combination packages for several different parks, so it is worth having a look online at the different deals out there.

Looking for something to do in between all of your theme park visits? 

Here are a few ideas:

  • A walk around the Tibet-Butler Nature Preserve
  • A boat tour of Winter Park
  • A bike ride along the Lake Baldwin Trail
  • A ride on the largest Ferris Wheel on the East Coast

Washington D.C.

Visitors in the main hall of the Natural History Museum, Washington D.C.

Visitors in the main hall of the Natural History Museum, Washington D.C. | © Kamira / Shutterstock.com

While Washington may be famous for politics, there is so much else to do in the city, with many of its attractions aimed at families.

The National Mall, where you can learn about the country’s history and check out the majestic reflection pool is always popular with people of all ages, while the National History Museum, as well as the Air and Space Museum both have special exhibits for children.

Does your family love animals?

The Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute consists of 163 acres, with more than 1500 animals, from over 300 species, calling this facility home.

If your family would prefer to see animals in their natural habitat, Rock Creek Park is home to turtles, fish and a wide variety of birds, as well as numerous activities for the whole family to take part in.

The United States Botanic Garden is also located in Washington, and this is a fantastic place to visit on a rainy day, as ten of its gardens are situated underneath glass. Even if you have younger kids with you, the Botanic Garden will still appeal to them, thanks to its Children’s Garden.

Oahu, Hawaii

Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Hawaii

Tourists lounging around on Waikiki Beach, Oahu, Hawaii | ©Michael Gordon / Shutterstock.com

Want to spend some time in a tropical paradise?

Then Oahu is the place to head to, because even though this island may be small, it is absolutely perfect for families.

Why?

Because there is such a wide range of activities to be found here, meaning that you can appeal to every member of your family.

When it comes to deciding where to stay…

You have quite a few options. Waikiki Beach is geared towards tourists, meaning that there are numerous amenities in this area, while Ko Olina, as well as the north shore, are much quieter, and offer a more relaxed pace of life.

Wondering what there is to do on Oahu?

One of the most popular activities is checking out the beaches on the island, as these world-famous stretches of sand are a joy to spend some time on.

These are a few of the must-visit beaches on Oahu:

  • Kawela Bay – calm waters make it a great spot for some family snorkelling
  • Waimanalo Beachgentle waves with several scenic picnic spots
  • Waikiki Beachone of the most popular beaches in the world with incredible views of your surroundings
  • Ala Moana Beach Parkhas a shallow lagoon that is ideal for children to swim in
  • Yokohama Baya great spot for watching dolphins

Need a break from the beach?

Check out the Diamond Head Crater, a volcanic crater that you can hike to the top of, or spend some time browsing the many shops at Waikiki Beach

Don’t forget…

A luau is a must when in Hawaii! These traditional parties feature local music and dances, as well as a show that will tell you stories about the history of various Polynesian islands. Of course, one of the main highlights of a luau is the Hawaiian feast that comes along with it, giving you the opportunity to sample many authentic specialities.

New York City, New York

The Statue of Liberty

The Statue of Liberty on Ellis Island | © mikecphoto / Shutterstock.com

Being one of the most famous cities in the world, New York has so much to offer, no matter what your family may be interested in.

One must-do activity is a ferry ride along the Hudson, where you can see some of the city’s top sights, such as the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

Once you’re back in Manhattan, there is plenty to choose from.

Begin by checking out some of the city’s museums, which focus on everything from fashion and history to art and religion. There are more than 80 museums to choose from, meaning that everybody in your family can pick one that they want to see.

Are there any animal lovers in your family?

If so, there are several popular animal-related attractions to keep you all busy, including:

  • The Bronx Zoo
  • Central Park Wildlife Center and Tisch Children’s Zoo
  • New York Aquarium
  • Queens Wildlife Center
  • Prospect Park Wildlife Center
  • Staten Island Zoo

Prefer attractions that are more urban?

Take your family for a spot of shopping at some of New York’s bustling markets. Chelsea Market is always popular, and boasts some delicious restaurants too, while the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market is a great place to go to bag a bargain. The Brooklyn Flea Market, as well as Queens Market, are also worth checking out.

When it comes to meal times…

The restaurant scene in New York is one of the best in the world, with everything from casual food trucks to fine dining restaurants offering up delicious meals.

There are numerous family-friendly restaurants all over the city, with some of the best being:

  • Habana Outpost – loved for its authentic Mexican-Cuban cuisine
  • Gotham West Market – perfect for varied tastes, as you can order from eight different eateries in this food court-style restaurant
  • Pig Beach features picnic-style dining areas with speciality smoked meats that also come in large sharing plates
  • Brooklyn Farmacy and Soda Fountain an old-school soda fountain shop serving up floats with homemade sodas, as well as savory meals and decadent desserts

When it comes to finding somewhere to stay, there are a variety of hotels all over the city. However, if you have a large family, it may be worth looking into one of the many AirBnBs available in New York City, as this will give all of you much more flexibility.

Choosing a location for a family vacation can be tough, especially if everybody in your family is hoping for something different. These destinations are varied enough to appeal to just about everyone, ensuring that you all have a truly memorable family trip.

Mother’s Day is quickly approaching, falling on Sunday the 13th of May this year.

Have you already got something special planned?

If not, you’re in luck, because here is a round-up of the 8 best places to visit with your mom this Mother’s Day to celebrate all that she has done for you.

Sonoma, California

Sonoma is at the forefront of California’s thriving wine industry, and is the ideal place to take any wine-loving mothers.

There are a few special events happening here for this year’s Mother’s Day…

The Montalvo Arts Center will be hosting three different Mother’s Day brunches on the 13th, one in their outdoor Spanish courtyard, one in their historic villa, and one on their veranda overlooking the Great Lawn. All of them will feature a special champagne toast to acknowledge the big day.

Would your mom prefer an activity?

If so, then the Tesoro Flowers Workshop Mother’s Day Tea Party and Floral Crowns would be ideal. You will both have the opportunity to create gorgeous floral crowns, while also being able to enjoy a delicious afternoon tea. 

Of course, if you would rather just spend the day enjoying Sonoma, there is plenty for you and your mother to see and do here, with historic buildings, natural beauty and 425 wineries.

Not sure which to visit for a wine tasting?

Here are a few of the finest:

  • Scribe Winery – wineries take place outdoors in picnic areas at this laid-back winery, and include fruits and nuts that have been harvested on-site along with their light and refreshing wines
  • Hamel Family Winesa family-owned, but modern and luxurious, winery, with primarily Bordeaux varieties
  • Russian River Vineyards built in the 1890s, this winery also boasts a highly-rated restaurant that uses locally-grown ingredients
  • Jordan Vineyard and Winery a large winery at 1200 acres, this one produces world-class chardonnay and cabernet sauvignon varieties
  • Bella Vineyards quiet and relaxing, the syrahs and zinfandels are the highlight here, with live music often accompanying the wine tastings 

New York City, New York

There is always so much to do in New York City, and Mother’s Day is no exception. 

For those travelling in from afar, the main sightseeing activities will always delight, from the Statue of Liberty to the Rockefeller Center.

Would you prefer a special Mother’s Day event?

Again, there are plenty to choose from, such as the Mother’s Day Brunch Cruise on a 1920’s-style yacht, complete with a brunch buffet and champagne or cocktails.

Another brunch with a view can be had at the Queens Botanical Gardens, where a picnic-style Mother’s Day Brunch will be held, serving everything from omelets and bacon to muffins and bagels.

Once you are done eating, walk off your meal by exploring the displays around the 39 acres of botanical gardens, featuring everything from roses and herbs to an arboretum and art gallery.

Would your mom prefer to do something a little more exciting?

If so, the Amazing Mother’s Day Scavenger Hunt begins at Slattery’s Pub, and will have the both of you racing around the city in search of clues and tackling obstacles.

For a more indulgent option, New York City is home to some of the finest spas in the world, such as:

  • Great Jones Spa – this Noho spa is famous for their water lounge that features subterranean pools, steam rooms, saunas and even a waterfall, with the majority of ingredients used in their treatments being either marine or plant based
  • Cornelia Spa at the Surrey each treatment here is customized to your exact needs by personal therapists, with every visit beginning with a delicious amuse-bouche tasting
  • Soho Sanctuary a women’s-only spa, this haven not only offers the usual spa treatments, but also everything from makeup application to yoga classes
  • Chuan Body and Soul this spa focuses on techniques that are based on Traditional Chinese Medicine, designed to harmonize the mind, body and soul 

Miami, Florida

The vibrant buzz of Miami is the perfect vibe for an unforgettable Mother’s Day.

Does your mom like animals?

If so, Lion Country Safari is the perfect place to spend the day. This safari park features a four mile trail through which the two of you can drive, with mothers enjoying free admission on May 13th, as well as admission into the adjoining Safari World Amusement Park.

Another great place to spend the whole day is at the Deering Estate, where there will be an action-packed schedule of activities for you and your mother to take part in. From croquet to tours of the historic home to a champagne cruise, your mom will really feel so pampered here.

Of course, if your mom would prefer to just spend the day relaxing and soaking up the sun, Miami boasts numerous beaches at which you can do this, including:

  • South Beach – ideal for moms who like people-watching, as this 2.2 mile stretch of sand can get quite busy, especially on weekends
  • Mid Beach features a raised boardwalk to stroll on, as well as a variety of beach and pool clubs to visit
  • Surfside a small, laid-back beach with a small town vibe
  • Crandon Park a family-friendly beach with picture-perfect views and a winding boardwalk
  • Fort Lauderdale Beacha wide stretch of sand complete with swaying coconut palms

Chicago, Illinois

For those who have been wanting to spend some time in Chicago, Mother’s Day is the perfect opportunity.

While there are plenty of the standard Mother’s Day brunches to choose from here, Chicago also boasts quite a few other unique events.

For a one-of-a-kind brunch, head to Band of Bohemia, where you will be served everything from Peekytoe crab to duck confit hash. The brunch at Mindy’s HotChocolate is also worth checking out, as James Beard award-winning chef Mindy Segal will be cooking up this spread herself.

If a physical activity would be appreciated, book yourselves a place at the Athletica Mother’s Day Yoga and Brunch session, which also features a private shopping session in the Athletica store.

For a spot of shopping, there will be a Mother’s Day Gift Market held in Ravenswood, with everything from handmade jewelry to fresh flowers available to purchase.

Would you prefer to spend the day at a spa?

Then let the Forbes Four-Star Waldorf Astoria Spa and Health Club be the one you choose, as they are doing a special promotion for Mother’s Day, with a customized two hour restorative spa treatment.

If you would prefer a more culture-filled day, Chicago has many museums worth exploring, including:

  • Field Museum of Natural History
  • Art Institute of Chicago
  • Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Chicago History Museum
  • National Museum of Mexican Art

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

For moms who like to keep fit, spending Mother’s Day in Milwaukee will definitely not disappoint.

Why?

Because this city hosts an annual Mother’s Day 5K and 10K Walk/Run, with a special one mile course for younger children.

The run starts at 8am on May 13th, and provides some fantastic incentives for finishing, such as cake pops and fresh roses.

If your mother would prefer something more laid-back, the Milwaukee Art Museum will be hosting a Mother’s Day Brunch with some classic dishes, while the brunch at the Pfister Hotel features everything from a carvery to a seafood display to a mouthwatering dessert table.

Honolulu, Hawaii

Hawaii is known for being a tropical paradise, making this such an idyllic place to spend this year’s Mother’s Day. 

The Mother’s Day Champagne Brunch Cruise is a fantastic way to make the most of your surroundings, as it takes place on-board the Star of Honolulu, complete with multiple observation decks. In addition to the champagne and scenery, this cruise also includes authentic Hawaiian activities, such as lei making and hula lessons, as well as presents for mom. 

For an evening celebration, Rock-a-Hule will be hosting an event called Legendary Moms. With gourmet food, specialty cocktails, the biggest show in Waikiki and roses for moms, this is an event that you will not want to miss out on.

Of course, the natural beauty of Hawaii is not to be missed, so if you would like to spend Mother’s Day making the most of the great outdoors, Turtle Bay has some great options. Give their Mother’s Day Horseback Riding Special a try, where mothers can ride the morning trail ride for free, or the Mother’s Day Golf Special where mothers can enjoy 50% off a day on the course. For watersports, the Mother’s Day Kayaking Special is the one to sign up for, as this is the perfect way to explore the North Shore.

Would you prefer to spend the day exploring Honolulu instead?

Here are some of the city’s must-visit spots:

  • Waikiki Beach
  • Lanikai Beach
  • Kailua Beach Park
  • Koko Crater
  • Honolulu Museum of Art
  • USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park
  • Manoa Falls
  • Iolani Palace 

Phoenix, Arizona

The best Mother’s Day events in Phoenix are centered around food, but this is definitely not a bad thing.

Start your morning in a memorable way by spending it at the Phoenix Zoo, making the most of their Mother’s Day Breakfast. This event is only open to members of the zoo, but membership can easily be purchased online, and also grants you admission to the zoo for a year, so you can take a tour of it too after your breakfast.

Another delicious event is Mother’s Day Brunch in the Grove, which is being held at The Farm at South Mountain. This is an annual event that has actually received national recognition from USA Today, due to its incredibly decadent buffet spread, along with gorgeous views.

If you have young children with you, head on over to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, which is as much fun for adults as it is for kids.

Charleston, South Carolina

There are quite a few events taking place on Mother’s Day weekend in Charleston, so you are bound to find something that appeals to the whole family.

One of the most popular is the Greek Festival at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Trinity. This is an annual event, and 2018 will be its 48th edition, with everything from Greek food and wine to Greek music and dancing. 

On North Myrtle Beach, the 13th Annual Mayfest will be held, with live music and performances to celebrate the beginning of summer, while Mother’s Day Brunches can be found all over the city, with one of the best being at High Cotton Charleston.

Never been to Charleston before?

Here are a few of the best things to do around town:

  • A walking tour of the city to explore is mansions and cobblestone streets
  • A boat tour around Charleston Harbor, where you may even spot some dolphins
  • A visit to the historic Middleton Place, which was built in 1755
  • Shopping at the Charleston City Market
  • Exploring the Magnolia Plantation and Gardens
  • A visit to the beach-front town of Sullivan’s Island
  • A tour of Drayton Hall, which was built in 1738 and is one of the oldest surviving plantations in the South

If you would like something to do on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, head to the Deep Water Vineyard, the one and only winery in Charleston. Every Saturday, they host their Weekend Wine-Down, with wine and food tastings along with live tunes from local musicians. 

Mother’s Day only comes around once a year, and while many may say that this is such a commercialized holiday, it is still so important to find a way to show your mother just how much she means to you. Whether this means spending the day at the wineries of Sonoma, or racing about doing a scavenger hunt around New York City, these destinations will no doubt make Mother’s Day 2018 one of your best ones yet.