Best travel destinations of 2015

Travel Destinations 2015

Best travel destinations of 2015 – 21 beautiful places in the World

 

1. Corsica

Napoleon’s Soulful Island Home
Two hundred years after Napoleon Bonaparte suffered his final military defeat, Corsica, his birthplace, stubbornly resists its own cultural Waterloo. Though this Mediterranean island has deep, historic ties to Italy and has been part of France since 1769, its 300,000 inhabitants retain a fierce pride in their own unique culture, including the proverb-rich Corsican tongue. But to keep that birthright vibrant in the face of tourism and its homogenizing effects, their battle remains constant.

Travel Destinations 2015 - Corsica

Travel Destinations 2015 – Corsica

Fortunately, most of the island’s three million annual visitors come for the undeniable pleasures of the coast or for the thrill of visiting historic La Maison Bonaparte, in the city of Ajaccio. All of which leaves the island’s mountainous interior largely untouched. “Go inland and you will find the soul of Corsica,” advises Jean-Sébastien Orsini, director of a traditional Corsican polyphonic choir in the foothill town of Calanzana.

Olive groves and quiet villages dot the slopes and isolated valleys of the interior, vast swaths of which are protected by the Parc Naturel Régionale de Corse, which covers more than 40 percent of the island. Hiking trails lace forests of oak and pine. In the villages here, you encounter Corsicans who still feel passionately the adage “Una lingua si cheta, un populu si more—A language is silenced, a people die.” —Christopher Hall



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2. Medellín, Colombia

Famous for Flowers. Yes, Flowers.

Call it the Medellín miracle. Colombia’s second city still has its vices, but the world’s former cocaine capital has been rehabbed. Terrorism has ceded to tourism, thanks to visionary social policies that have transformed the once menacing city into a model metropolis. Slums where police feared to tread are now linked to the innovative business and cultural hub by the well-policed MetroCable, whisking visitors aloft to Barrio Santo Domingo, a new tourist hot spot where the black cubist España library perches dramatically over the shanties. Downtown, in the valley below, sunlight glints on skyscrapers and avant-garde architecture framed by Andean mountains—proof that a jewel is made complete by a stunning setting.

Medellin Flower Festival, Columbia

Medellin Flower Festival, Columbia

Art-filled public parks lie at the heart of the city’s holistic makeover. Voluptuous sculptures by Medellín native Fernando Botero stud Plaza Botero, where the Museo de Antioquia displays paintings by Botero and Picasso. Nearby, office workers strolling Plaza de los Pies Descalzos (“barefoot park”) cast off shoes and socks to rejuvenate amid a sensory Zen garden. Families flock to Parque Explora, with its interactive science exhibits and world-class aquarium. Self-assured young people in designer jeans swell Parque de Lleras, the city’s epicenter for chic nightlife. Art-mad Medellinenses have even morphed a former steel mill into the Museo de Arte Moderno. Its Bonuar restaurant serves Creole fusion fare spiced with live American-style blues.

Tradition? Relax. It scents the air when the City of Eternal Spring bursts into mid-summer bloom for the annual Feria de las Flores in August. The 58-year-old flower festival fills the streets with kaleidoscopic color, a winsome testament to Medellín’s metamorphosis. —Christopher P. Baker

3. Koyasan, Japan

Let There Be Enlightenment

The austere heart of Japanese Buddhism beats loudly at Koyasan, a monastic complex that lies two hours by train south of Osaka. Koyasan marks its 1,200th anniversary in 2015.

Established by revered scholar-monk Kobo Daishi in 816 as the headquarters for his Shingon school of Esoteric Buddhism, Koyasan remains one of Japan’s most pristine and sacred sites, manifesting a masculine side of Japan worlds away from the hostesses and Hello Kittys of Kyoto.

Koyasan, Japan

Koyasan, Japan

“Koyasan is purity,” says a monk after a crack-of-dawn fire ceremony, where a priest burns wooden wish-tablets to the boom of a taiko drum and the sprinkling of herbs and oils on high-leaping flames. Staying in one of the temples that welcome guests here opens a portal onto everyday monastic life. Waking to enshrouding mists, visitors are invited to join morning chants swirled by cymbals, gongs, and incense. At night, no-nonsense monks who began the day hand-scrubbing wooden hallways roughly plop vegetarian feasts in front of visitors.

Kobo Daishi is believed to live here still, sitting in eternal meditation in an elaborate mausoleum, and through the centuries, Japan’s most rich and powerful have built palatial sepulchers here as well. At night, a ghostly lantern-lit trail winds among the moss-covered stones deep into the mystery and majesty of ancient Japan. —Don George

 

4. Maramureș, Romania

Boldly Old World

In the historic Land of Maramureș, the hills are alive with ways long forgotten elsewhere in Europe. “My cows don’t like grass that is cut with a machine,” Ion Pop says while harvesting his meadow near the village of Botiza. “They prefer the clean taste of handcut.”

The splendor is not just in the grass. In this remote northwest corner of Romania 300 miles from Bucharest, the schedule is set by the seasons, the weather, tradition. In each of the five valleys, with their meandering rivers and haystack-dotted fields, life plays out as it has for hundreds of years—though one recent change is telling. Rather than asphalting roads that are mainly used by horse and carriage, Maramureș has newly upgraded its bike trails—pathways to experience the region at the pace it deserves.

Maramureș, Romania

Maramureș, Romania

Maramureș is a wooden world. The farm tools are made of wood, and wooden gates, chiseled with century-old motifs, form the glorious entrances to modest yards around wooden, steep-roofed houses. UNESCO-designated churches from the 17th and 18th centuries tell stories of faith and glory, saints and sinners, crime and punishment, through still vivid paintings on their wooden walls.

Many of the colorful wooden crosses at the Merry Cemetery in the village of Săpânța are inscribed with lighthearted epitaphs written in verse. They laugh in the face of death—and hence celebrate immortality. —Pancras Dijk

5. Haida Gwaii

The Sounds of Silence

The quiet is what strikes people here most on Haida Gwaii. On this 180-mile-long archipelago off the coast of British Columbia, labyrinthine coves snuggle up to dense forests with towering cedars. Beneath the ground, scientists have found evidence of human habitation stretching back 12,000 years.

“We brought students—minus laptops and cell phones—to the forest,” says Guujaaw, a Haida leader. “They could carry a pencil and tablet for sketching. A couple hours later, one student said the sound of the pencil scratching on the pad was too loud.”

Haida Gwaii

Haida Gwaii

Thirty years ago it wasn’t so quiet. In 1985 the Haida people, alarmed by the ecological damage caused by clearcutting, blockaded the logging road. This nonviolent protest led to Canada’s creation of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, National Marine Conservation Area Reserve, and Haida Heritage Site. In the village of SGang Gwaay, Haida Watchmen share their culture with visitors to this UNESCO World Heritage destination.

“You use your listening sense more,” says Ernie Gladstone, a Haida who is superintendent of Gwaii Haanas. “You hear the water washing down the beaches, clams squirting, and ravens, eagles, and songbirds in the forest.” —April Orcutt

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6. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Pride of the Plains

Oklahoma City has never been “mighty pretty,” despite the shout-out from Bobby Troup’s iconic “Route 66.” To look at, it’s been more like the beer-gut metropolis spilling across the Great Plains. But things have changed.

The central Oklahoma River has a community boathouse and a new West River Trail. An 11-acre white-water rafting center is due in 2015. Local architect firms and coffee roasters that wouldn’t be out of place in Portlandia now line once dormant Automobile Alley. And then there’s MidTown. Not long ago a den of crackhouses and abandoned lots just north of downtown’s 1995 bombing site, MidTown has sprouted condos, a boutique hotel, and Dust Bowl Lanes, a Tulsan import, with its 1970s-style bowling alley. The city even plans to add a streetcar loop downtown in 2017.

Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City

This is Oklahoma?

“We’re such a blank canvas that even people from Austin are moving here,” says Hunter Wheat, who launched MidTown’s Blue Garten last year, a one-block food truck complex with open-air movies and live bands. “I’m just happy to see it’s growing into the city I always knew it could be.” —Robert Reid

 

 

7. Tunis, Tunisia

New Day in North Africa

Byrsa Hill, in Tunis’s upmarket suburb of Carthage, makes a dizzying aerie to watch the sun set into the bay. The vantage point might be the Light Bar at the decidedly 21st-century Villa Didon, but Phoenician streets lay deep beneath and, down on the waters’ edge, the scalloped foreshore traces a Roman naval port. Inland, the coils of the ancient medina and the colonial grid of the early 20th century French city tell other chapters of Tunis’s story of conquest, resistance, flux, and assimilation, from mythic Dido to the Jasmine Revolution of 2011.

Tunis, Tunesia

Tunis, Tunesia

The city’s layered charms are something that many pre-revolution visitors missed entirely, on their way to the Sahara or the Mediterranean beach resorts of Hammamet and Sousse. These sun-holiday tribes all but abandoned Tunisia after 2011, but with a relaxation of most travel warnings to the country, a new breed of traveler has replaced them. They come to discover Tunis’s past, yes, and now also its cultural energy, what Ahmed Loubiri, the organizer of international electronic music festival Ephemere, sees as a widespread “urge to be creative.” Loubiri says this ranges from “random jam sessions in garages and coffee shops to humongous festivals.” Galleries such as Selma Feriani and Hope Contemporary continue to thrive in the neighborhoods of La Marsa and Sidi Bou Said, and Tunis’s antiquities museum, the Bardo, has reopened with an ambitious new wing.

“It’s a Tunisian habit to know how to receive guests. We get back as much as we give,” says Marouane ben Miled, who runs La Chambre Bleue, a medina B&B, suggesting that this fresh popularity might also mark the beginning of a fertile conversation. —Donna Wheeler

 

8. Choquequirao, Peru

The Original Machu Picchu

The Inca emperors had quite the eye for spectacular real estate. Upon taking power, each of these great lords picked a breathtaking piece of property for a new royal residence. The emperor Pachacuti likely built the most famous of these royal digs—Machu Picchu—on a mountainous ridge of cloud forest northwest of Cusco. But his successor, Topa Inca, was no slouch either: his presumed estate, Choquequirao, drapes temples, plazas, and fountains along an orchid-strewn mountain 61 miles west of Cusco.

Choquequirao, Peru

Choquequirao, Peru

At an elevation of 9,800 feet, it lacks easy access by railway or bus. But the cardio-intensive climb is well worth it. Choquequirao looks much as it did when the Incas finally abandoned it. And travelers often have the place nearly to themselves: only 20 to 30 people journey there each day in the high season. “It’s like Machu Picchu in the 1940s,” says Gary Ziegler, an American archaeologist who has written a book on Choquequirao.

But all that may be changing. The Peruvian government is studying the possibility of constructing a tramway to Choquequirao, hoping to lure travelers away from the crowded vistas of Machu Picchu. It’s a prospect that saddens Ziegler. Choquequirao, he says, “may be the last pristine royal Inca estate in the mountains.” —Heather Pringle

 

 

9. Sark, Channel Islands

 

Sark, Channel Island

Sark, Channel Islands

Tradition’s Last Stand

In Sark, time flows like molasses. Sarkees will mark the 450th anniversary of feudalism in 2015; the tiny Channel Island off the coast of Normandy abolished the medieval form of governance in 2008. But old ways linger: The two banks have no ATMs; the unpaved roads lack street lights; cars are banned.

Signposts usefully give distances in walking minutes, for in this unhurried place ambling is what one does—or cycling, or riding in a horse-drawn carriage. Wander country roads bordered by fieldstone walls and storybook cottages, past foxgloves and bluebells and 600 other kinds of wildflowers, taking note of butterflies, seabirds, Guernsey cows. Destination? Perhaps the sea caves of Gouliot Headland, to find anemones. Or La Marguerite Cottage, to buy duck eggs from Sue Adams’s streetside honor box. Or Venus Pool, for a swim at low-tide. Or especially La Coupee, to walk the skinny track atop an isthmus 300 feet above the sea.

A visitor’s daytime choices abound. But late at night, there’s just one: the sky. Sark is the first island certified by the International Dark-Sky Association. Time may have swept feudalism aside. The stars are timeless. —Peter Johansen

 

 

10. Hyderabad, India

 

A Diamond Is Forever

Stories of Hyderabad’s poetic past weave amid strings of programming code in this southeastern India city that was home to one of the richest men in the world, Mir Osman Ali Khan, the last ruling nizam of Hyderabad. Now a seedbed for many global IT brands, Cyberabad (as it’s dubbed) is where you can hear the muezzin’s call above the trafffic din generated by aging Urdu scholars and young software engineers alike. Here, ancient boulders guard the peripheries of HITEC City, while new rooftop bars hem in lakes and gardens. The opulent Taj Falaknuma Palace hotel perches atop a hill overlooking the Old City, where Irani cafés thrive alongside fifth-generation pearl merchants and the finest fountain pen makers. Prone to exaggeration, the Hyderabadis’ conversations within these cafés often linger over three cups of chai and four hours.

Hyderabad, India

Hyderabad, India

A good Muslim ruler was expected to be an expert with the pen as well as the sword; the city’s founder, Mohammed Quli Qutb Shah, is credited with the first published anthology of Urdu poetry. The later ruling dynasty, the Nizams, provided patronage to poets within their court. Attend a mushaira (poetry symposium) for a good introduction to the city’s literary legacy. There’s also the Hyderabad Literary Festival in January, followed by February’s Deccan Festival, during which the most passionate performances involve qawwali, an 800-year-old form of Sufi music. Another evocative setting to witness qawwali is Chowmahalla Palace, the recently restored residence of the Nizams. “Dakhan—Hyderabad—is the diamond, the world is the ring,” says historian Narendra Luther, quoting the court poet Mulla Vajahi. “The ring’s splendor lies in the diamond.” —Simar Preet Kaur

 

 

11. Port Antonio, Jamaica

Blithe Spirits in Paradise

When a hurricane blew his yacht off course in 1942, Hollywood heartthrob Errol Flynn discovered paradise in Jamaica’s Port Antonio, purportedly proclaiming it “more beautiful than any woman I have ever known.” This haven on the island’s northeast coast first boomed when American millionaires such as Alfred Mitchell and his heiress wife, Annie Tiffany, built estates in the early 1900s. Flynn’s arrival cued a second swell, drawing Noel Coward and Katharine Hepburn.

Port Antonio, Jamaica

Port Antonio, Jamaica

Now a new generation has discovered Portie’s pleasures, from the smoke-fogged jerk grills lining Boston Beach to the log rafts that drift down the lazy Rio Grande. British music producer Jon Baker opened Geejam, a seven-room boutique hideaway. And with Portie-born, Toronto-based financier Michael Lee-Chin, he has relaunched two formerly faded properties, the Trident Hotel and the Castle. Together they are reviving the Blue Lagoon, the famed swimming hole.

“The Blue Mountains are our natural filter,” says Baker of the forested highlands that lie between Jamaica’s capital, Kingston, and its most pristine coast. “You have to try harder to get here, and dig a little deeper for the reward.” —Elaine Glusac

 

12. Taiwan

Out of China’s Shadow

As China gets mightier and smoggier, Taiwan feels calmer and cleaner. When China restricted access to the internet, Taiwan provided free Wi-Fi islandwide. When China marginalized its ethnic groups, Taiwan reintroduced indigenous Formosan languages to schools. Taiwan ranks in the top 50 (out of 178) on the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), while China sank to the 118th spot.

But Taiwan is much more than China’s contrarian runaway bride. The sweet-potato-shaped island—a tad smaller than Switzerland (but no less mountainous)—has a high-tech global urban sector and a thriving aboriginal society. In one decade, “Made in Taiwan” went from being a sign of bad quality to a national statement of pride.

Taiwan

Taiwan

Skyscraper-filled capital Taipei, with a population of seven million, has been named 2016’s World Design Capital. A flurry of new buildings opens in 2015, including a performing arts center designed by Rem Koolhaas’s firm.

More than anything, Taipei lives up to its reputation as a food paradise. “Forget about breakfast at the hotel,” says Peray, a popular Taipei food blogger. “In the early mornings, at food stalls, you can get clay oven rolls, charcoal grill sandwiches, rice with chicken, and rice noodle soup with pork. The challenge here is staying hungry.” —Adam H. Graham

 

13. Zermatt, Switzerland

Peak of Perfection

Why would a remote farming hamlet turn into a first-class travel destination that attracts 1.5 million visitors a year? The answer is simple: Because it’s there.

Zermatt, the only village on the Swiss side of the Matterhorn, has been luring travelers ever since British adventurer Edward Whymper made the first ascent of the mythical 14,692-foot peak 150 years ago, on July 14, 1865. Nowadays car-free Zermatt witnesses a colorful procession of chocolate-nibbling tourists searching for cow souvenirs, sunbrowned hikers and climbers clomping around in big boots, and the fashionably rich lavishing hundreds of thousands of dollars on Swiss watches. Yet, one activity bonds all: Nobody can resist pointing a camera up to that majestic wonder of nature. The Matterhorn isn’t the highest peak in the Swiss Alps, but its nearly perfect triangular shape makes it one of the most photographed in the world.

Zermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt, Switzerland

Only a five-minute walk from most hotels, the Kirchstrasse bridge makes an ideal location to watch the sunrise awakening of the mountain. But the closest to the summit a visitor can get without donning a climbing rope is via a helicopter ride with Air Zermatt. “I’ve flown around the summit some 5,000 times now, but it’s still an amazing experience,” says pilot Gerold Biner, who was raised in Zermatt. “Sometimes we can even see the smiles on the faces of the climbers.” —Menno Boermans

 

 

14. The Presidio, San Francisco

From Spanish Conquistadores to Star Wars

If the San Francisco Peninsula resembles a forearm ending in a fist, then the Presidio is the topmost knuckle-by-the-Bay. The virile park of viridian woods and knockout vistas can make travelers forget its original function was for war, not Instagram. To San Franciscans, it’s both muse and playground—with the latest addition being the newly reopened Officers’ Club, reimagined as a local hub for exhibits, performances, and dining.

The Presidio, San Francisco

The Presidio, San Francisco

Established by Spanish conquistadores in 1776, the military garrison of Saint Francis and its 2.3 square miles defended the bay from any invaders tempted by the riches of Alta California. For the next 218 years, soldiers stood guard against the machinations of empires. But the English, Russian, Japanese, and Klingons—Star Trek’s Starfleet Command is headquartered here—never came. The base became a coveted U.S. Army assignment. Officers dream of three things, the saying went: “to make colonel, to die and go to heaven, and to be posted to the Presidio.”

In 1994, ownership passed from the Army to the National Park Service. Now the Presidio is a self-sustaining trust, thanks to rents paid by one-percenters like George Lucas, whose Lucasfilms office here blessed with a Yoda sculpture on a fountain. (Critics prefer sculptor Andy Goldsworthy’s nearly hundred-foot-tall “Spire,” near the Arguello Gate.) But why nitpick? Instead, savor a hot chocolate after a hike on Crissy Field. Listen for the whiz-whir generated by bikers pumping down Lincoln Boulevard above North Baker Beach’s clothing-optional sunbathers. Delight in the eucalyptus-scented footpath called Lovers Lane. The Presidio, young Skywalker! The Force is strong with this one. —Andrew Nelson

 

15. Mergui Archipelago, Myanmar

Rolling In the Deeps

“Forbidden Islands” sounds like something from a fairy tale, and stories about Myanmar’s Mergui Archipelago do seem like a fantasy: hundreds of undiscovered white-sand beaches, dense unexplored jungles, and clans of the mysterious Moken sea gypsies. Klaus Reisinger, who co-directed a documentary titled Burma’s Forbidden Islands about the island chain, calls the area “one of the last paradises left on Earth.”

Mergui, Archipelagio

Mergui Archipelagio, Myanmar

The Burmese government kept the area off-limits to foreigners until 1997. Since opened to a handful of tour operators, the 800 islands scattered off the southern coast of Myanmar, in the Andaman Sea, are so seldom visited that many of them are known only as numbers on navigation charts.

Wildlife sightings include monitor lizards, sea eagles, and long-tailed macaques. Despite years of unregulated dynamite fishing, snorkeling and dive spots still reveal an aquatic festival of life, with swarms of eagle rays, schools of sharks, and the occasional whale shark. The nomadic Moken people, now largely forced into settlements, maintain their fishing traditions as they have for countless generations. As an epic of the Moken goes, “The Moken are born, live, and die on their boats, and the umbilical cords of their children plunge into the sea.” —Bill Fink

 

 

16. Sea Islands, South Carolina

Pathway to a Forgotten Past

Cruise highway 278, the main road on South Carolina’s Hilton Head Island, and it may seem that little has changed in the 59 years since entrepreneur Charles Fraser developed this sultry Lowcountry sea island as one of America’s first “eco-planned” resorts. But visitors are beginning to learn that some of the most important chapters of American history took place here, right beneath their vacation-tanned feet. Take Mitchelville, for instance, a settlement established by freed slaves in 1862, a year before the Emancipation Proclamation. On St. Helena, the Penn Center stands as one of the first schools in the South to educate Gullah people.

Sea Islands, South Carolina

Sea Islands, South Carolina

These spots surprise and intrigue visitors, who arrive knowing little, if anything, about them. Why? “Well, who writes history?” Joyce Wright asks rhetorically, eyebrows arched. Wright is executive director of Mitchelville Preservation Project, one of the member organizations in the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor. Here, visitors experience Gullah culture through storytelling, sweetgrass basket weaving, and sampling traditional food. Though the corridor cuts through the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida, Hilton Head and St. Helena are the heart of living Gullah culture, where once forgotten stories find voice. —Julie Schwietert Collazo

 

 

17. Mont St. Michel, France

Faith and a Feat of Human Genius

For about a thousand years, travelers have gasped when the Abbey of Mont St. Michel has loomed into view, rising from a bay fed by tides that are among the highest and most treacherous in Europe. What makes the sight transcendent is the play of light, sky, and weather that can shift hourly here off the coast of Normandy. Total isolation was the point, and pilgrims had to wait for the tide to recede to make their way across the flats to the abbey.

Mont St. Michel, France

Mont St. Michel, France

In 1879, a causeway was built to ease the approach to Mont St. Michel. That and years of agricultural development, though, led to a buildup of silt and sea grass. Rather than lording regally over an expanse of water, Mont St. Michel now stood at the end of a massive mudflat. A reclamation project began in 2005 with the goal of returning the abbey as much as possible to the maritime context the monks envisioned.

“What is important is not that we are restoring it to its original state,” says Patrick Morel, who is heading up the massive reclamation effort that includes a dam and a pedestrian bridge leading to the foot of the mount. “We are restoring the original spirit.” The work is on schedule to finish in 2015, when, with deliberate calibration, 50 times a year, Mont St. Michel and its great monastery will once again seem to float in the water that surrounds it. —Marcia deSanctis

 

 

18. Esteros del Iberá, Argentina

Realm of the Jaguar

A day’s drive north and a world away from Buenos Aires, a glittering web of lakes and marshes inundates 3.2 million acres in Argentina’s northeastern Corrientes Province. The Guaraní call it Y Berá, “brilliant water.” This entire immense area of wetlands, or esteros, was declared a natural reserve in 1983, with 40 percent protected within the boundaries of Iberá Provincial Park. Iberá is one of South America’s most important reserves of fresh water, offering refuge for a vast cast of birds and other creatures. No vertical peaks dazzle the visitor from afar; it is a horizontal landscape that one must enter to know its intimate, surprising beauty.

Esteros del Iberá, Argentina

Esteros del Iberá, Argentina

The jaguar was the stealthy lord of the esteros until intensive hunting drove it out in the 1950s. But attitudes have changed. “What obliges us to care for these wetlands is the fact that they have always been and will continue to be instrumental in shaping what it means to be a Correntino,” says Perico Perea Muñoz, a rancher and environmental leader. “Without the Iberá wetlands, Corrientes is simply not Corrientes.” Now a reintroduction project is bringing the jaguar back.

In 2015, with any luck, the first wild jaguar cubs in over half a century will be born in Iberá. And Corrientes will truly be Corrientes again. —Beth Wald

 

 

19. National Mall, Washington, D.C.

The Great Unfinished Work

History is a meandering river, not a straight line. And yet Pierre L’Enfant’s 1791 plan for the new federal city sketched out a tidy grid of grand boulevards, gardens, and monuments—as if geometry alone could create a nation.

At the heart of his original scheme for Washington, D.C., was a mile-long stretch of green, a blank slate for an emerging America. As the nation’s fortunes grew, so did the National Mall, and by 1922 the park spanned two miles, from the Capitol grounds to the newly dedicated Lincoln Memorial.

Changing times called for evolving landscapes. Where Victorian plants once bloomed, congressional staffers in fluorescent knee-highs now play kickball. Where Mary Ann Hall’s high-class brothel prospered during the Civil War, the National Museum of the American Indian stands. An effort to protect “high-tech turf,” recently planted by the National Park Service, threatens to push popular annual festivals off the green lawn.

National Mall, Washington, D.C.

National Mall, Washington, D.C.

The Mall is embraced as hallowed ground not because architects willed it but because people chose it. Citizens congregate on the Lincoln Memorial steps—where Marian Anderson sang “America” in 1939 and where Martin Luther King, Jr., gave his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963—to contemplate democracy’s “unfinished work,” Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address words, etched in the monument to his legacy.

With the rise of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, due to open in 2015, the National Mall marches toward what it should be: not just a formal park in a federal city, but also a central space for self-expression and equal representation. In short, a field where dreams can come true. —George W. Stone

 

 

20. Mornington Peninsula, Australia

Eat, Drink, Play, Repeat

Though Sydney might argue the point, Melbourne has established itself as Australia’s food capital, home to innovative culinary ideas such as micro coffee roasters, nonprofit cafés, and expat pop-ups (British chef Heston Blumenthal is moving his Fat Duck from England to Melbourne for six months next year). Melbourne’s chief wine region is the nearby Yarra Valley, but an emerging source of bounty is the rugged Mornington Peninsula, about an hour’s drive south from downtown via a recently opened roadway. The peninsula distills the flavors of down under in one boot-shaped cape: paddock-to-plate restaurants, down-to-earth wineries where the vintners themselves work the tasting rooms, and small sustainable farms such as 2 Macs and Green Olive at Red Hill that each offer cooking classes.

 

Mornington Peninsula - Australia

Mornington Peninsula – Australia

But the region isn’t just about food. In fact, “it has always been Melbourne’s playground, with people flocking to the beaches over summer,” says Danielle Field, who, with her brother Max, guides MP Experience food tours of the Hinterland Region of Pinot Noir growers, apple orchards, and strawberry farms. Snorkelers come to encounter leafy sea dragons. Terrestrial wildlife lovers seek out nocturnal pademelons and bettongs. Says Field, “Now the Mornington Peninsula really has something for everyone.” —Elaine Glusac

 

 

21. Readers’ Choice Winner: Faroe Islands

This year for the first time we invited our well-traveled online readers and followers to participate in creating our Best Trips list. We asked them via Twitter, Facebook, and our Intelligent Travel blog to nominate one place using the same criteria we use—sustainable, culturally minded, authentic, superlative, and timely. Among the nominations we received, Traveler staff chose the following winning entry, which captures the thrill of discovering a remote destination. —Amy Alipio

Faroe Islands

Faroe Islands

Under the North Atlantic Sun

The Faroe Islands are always a beautiful destination, no matter what time of year you go. But on March 20, 2015, there will be a full solar eclipse visible from the Faroe Islands. For most people, a full solar eclipse will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and from what I’ve heard, it should be quite magnificent. My grandmother told me about her reaction to the full solar eclipse that was visible from the Faroe Islands 60 years ago, on June 30, 1954. She was terrified, thinking it was some kind of apocalypse. What was a very bright day suddenly became black. The birds acted strange, but the hens just went inside their house to sleep. A few minutes later, the day was bright again, the rooster crowed “good morning,” and life kept on going. —Sigrið Mikkjalsdóttir, Faroe Islands

Source: National Geographic

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