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Best Spring Trips 2012

Photo: Cherry Blossom trees in bloom

National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington, D.C.

Photograph by Stefan Zaklin, EPA/Corbis

Blooming pink and white blossoms have heralded spring’s arrival in the nation’s capital since 1912 when the people of Tokyo gifted Washington, D.C., with 3,000 ornamental cherry trees. The living gift spawned the nation’s signature springtime celebration, extended to five weeks (March 20 to April 27) for the 2012 centennial edition. Daily events pay tribute to the relationship between the United States and Japan. While some—like the high-energy National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade on Saturday, April 14—are date-specific, many extend through summer.

The National Geographic Museum’s “Samurai: The Warrior Transformed” exhibition, March 7 to September 3, explores the history of the samurai military tradition and includes artifacts such as a suit of armor presented to President Theodore Roosevelt. Also on display is the early 20th-century hand-tinted photographs of Japan taken by Eliza Scidmore, the first woman to serve on the National Geographic Board. Scidmore played an integral role in bringing the cherry blossoms to Washington.

The free Library of Congress exhibition, “Sakura: Cherry Blossoms as Living Symbols of Friendship,” illuminates the story of the landmark trees through watercolor drawings, Japanese color woodblock prints and books, and photographs.

During the festival, take the U.S. National Arboretum’s self-guided “Beyond the Tidal Basin” tour to learn about ongoing efforts to preserve the District’s blooming cultural ambassadors.


Photo: Walkers at Nash Point, Glamorgan

Coast Path, Wales

Photograph by Graham Mulrooney, Alamy

With the completion of its 870-mile Coast Path in May, Wales—situated west of England on the island of Great Britain—is home to the longest continuous coastal path around a country. The route, comprising several long- and short-distance trails, meanders along rocky Irish Sea cliff tops, sandy beaches, former railway lines, and ancient footpaths. Fourteen-mile Glamorgan Heritage Coast Path traces the area’s rich Norman history (cross the stepping stones to Ogmore Castle). Pictured here is Nash Point.

Well-known Pembrokeshire Coast Path, the country’s first national trail, typically takes about two weeks to complete. Use the efficient coastal bus service for a more manageable one- or two-day ramble from St. Davids (Britain’s tiniest city) along towering headlands blanketed with spring blooms.

Highlights along the 60-mile North Wales Path from Prestatyn to Bangor include Coedydd Aber National Nature Reserve and Medieval Conwy Castle—one of a hundred still standing in the country. Book a room facing the castle at Bodysgallen Hall & Spa, a 17th-century manor house with lily ponds and 16 stone cottages spread across 200 woodland acres.


Photo: People sit near the Statue of Duke Albrecht in Vienna, Austria.

Vienna, Austria

Photograph by Steinhilber, laif/Redux

Austria’s romantic, richly ornamented city of the Habsburgs, Mozart, and Lipizzan stallions is turning up the lavish, Old World charm for Klimt 2012, a year-long anniversary salute honoring “Gustav Klimt and the Birth of Modernism in Vienna.” The artistic genius and Art Nouveau pioneer would have celebrated his 150th birthday in 2012.

Special Klimt exhibitions are scheduled at city museums throughout the spring. (Pictured here is the Albertina museum.) Lighter, pre-summer tourist volume makes it easier to purchase tickets for multiple events, navigate the historic First District’s narrow cobblestone streets, and linger over Viennese kaffee und kuchen (coffee and cake) at landmark Café Central. Baroque Belvedere palace (actually two palaces), housing the most extensive collection of Austrian art from the Middle Ages to the present, boasts the world’s largest collection of Klimt paintings, including “The Kiss” and “Judith I.”

From May 25 to October 14, 350 Art Nouveau textiles from the collection of Klimt’s partner and muse, Emilie Flöge, will be displayed publicly for the first time at the Austrian Museum of Folk Life and Folk Art.

Photo: Aerial view of temples in Bagan, Myanmar


Top 10 Cemeteries to Visit

Photo: Eva Peron's grave

A visitor leaves the final resting place of Eva Peron in Cementerio de La Recoleta in Buenos Aries, Argentina


Many of the world’s most storied graveyards offer respite—and rewards—for the living too. Headstones, crypts, and landscapes divulge clues into the spirit of a place and its people. At these famous cemeteries, dig past the spooky surface to find a repository enlivened by the legends of the characters buried below.

  • Père-Lachaise, Paris, France

    In the 20th arrondissement, this archetype for rural cemeteries opened in 1804. Parisians jog on winding paths, groupies crusade to Jim Morrison’s grave, and admirers leave lipstick kisses on Oscar Wilde’s tomb, which features an Egyptian-style depiction of a man in flight.

  • Merry Cemetery, Romania

    Tucked behind Sapanta’s Church of the Assumption, ornately carved oak crosses mark each of the countryside plot’s 900-plus graves; art and poetry tell quirky tales of the dead. In an epitaph for a lifelong boozer, a posthumous request: “Leave a little wine.”

  • St. Louis No. 1, New Orleans, Louisiana

    Near the French Quarter, a thousand aboveground vaults jam onto one square block, the 18th-century cemetery exploited in 1969’s Easy Rider. Interred here: architect turned pirate Barthelemy Lafon and—rumors say—voodoo priestess Marie Laveau.

  • Forest Lawn, Los Angeles, California

    Hollywood Hills, overlooking top Tinseltown studios, serve as a resting place for its glitziest stars, from Bette Davis to Liberace. Many tombs are surprisingly staid (at nearby Glendale, Michael Jackson’s is hidden), but a Venetian glass mosaic ups the razzle-dazzle.

  • La Recoleta Cemetery, Buenos Aires, Argentina

    At this exclusive graveyard, visitors beeline to Eva Perón’s tomb (under her maiden name, Duarte). Among large stone angels and carved mausoleums stands the heart-wrenching sculpture of a bride who died in an avalanche on her honeymoon.

    1. Xoxocotlan, Oaxaca, Mexico

      Crowded around an ancient, crumbling chapel, the rickety headstones in this old graveyard outside of Oaxaca can be difficult to walk between—especially during Day of the Dead celebrations. Revelers begin with a vigil the night of October 31, when the departed are feted with altars, candles, and marigold petals. Six blocks away, a carnival-like atmosphere pervades the Panteon Nuevo, or new cemetery, with picnicking families, strolling musicians, and vendors selling pan de muerto (bread of the dead) from tents.

    2. Mount Auburn, Cambridge, Massachusetts

      The roster of distinguished Americans interred here—Mary Baker Eddy, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Winslow Homer, to name a few—is impressive, but this tranquil swath of rolling hills, majestic maple and oak trees, and formal gardens outside of Boston remains true to its mission to be a place for the living. Founded in 1831, it was the first landscaped expanse open to the public, ultimately leading to the birth of the U.S. park system.

    3. Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague, Czech Republic

      Some 12,000 tombstones, ranging from Gothic to rococo, are wedged into this city block–size graveyard that dates from the 15th century. Symbols adorn the graves, such as the lion etched on the tomb of Judah Loew Ben Bezalel, the chief rabbi of Prague in the 16th century who, according to legend, made a golem out of clay to protect the city’s Jewish community.

    4. Lone Fir Cemetery in Portland, Oregon

      Roaming this natural landscape—one of the few cemeteries that allows the planting of a tree or garden to commemorate the dearly departed—is like the turning the pages of a Portland history book. You’ll find graves of pioneers; Block 14, a memorial in the works for the Chinese immigrants who helped build the city; and crypts of captains of industry, like the imposing Gothic-style MacLeay family mausoleum.

    5. Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn, New York

      From Louis Comfort Tiffany to Jean-Michel Basquiat, many of the names etched into the tombstones, granite monuments, and brownstone mausoleums here read like Page Six of the New York Post. But the real attraction of this 478-acre oasis in Greenwood Heights is the parklike setting with glacial ponds, a Gothic Revival entrance gate circa 1861, and the Manhattan skyline peeking through the century-old trees.

      1. Food travel: Dare to Eat

        Photo: Oyster with caviar

        Ideas for Casserole Dinners

        Ideas for Casserole Dinnersthumbnail
        Casseroles make for easy dinners

        Casseroles make for easy dinners because they are usually complete meals served out of just one dish. In addition, most casseroles freeze well so cooks can make multiple casseroles ahead of time and just pop them in the oven for a dinner on a busy day. All casseroles should be baked at about 350 degrees Fahrenheit until they are bubbly throughout.

        • Squash Casserole

          • Squash casserole is best made with a combination of yellow squash and zucchini, both readily available in the summer. In the winter, experiment with acorn squash and butternut squash instead for a heavier casserole. Chop and saute an onion until translucent. Turn off the heat and mix the onion with about 3 to 4 cups of cubed squash, 3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese and 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese. Spoon the mixture into a casserole dish and cover with 3/4 cup bread crumbs.

          Cottage Pie

          • Cottage pie has a layer of meat, vegetables and gravy covered in a couple inches of fluffy mashed potatoes. It is also known as shepherd’s pie, although shepherd’s pie is traditionally made with lamb, whereas cottage pie uses beef. Make the pie by cooking ground or cubed beef and adding cooked mixed vegetables, gravy and seasonings of choice. Spread these in the bottom of a casserole dish. Top with homemade mashed potatoes or instant mashed potatoes for a simpler dinner.

          Chicken Enchilada Casserole

          • Make a simple Mexican-inspired casserole that is a cross between lasagna and enchiladas. Mix together equal amounts of enchilada sauce and cream of chicken soup, add some shredded chicken and diced onions. Spread a layer of this, 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick, over the bottom of a casserole dish. Sprinkle with a generous handful of grated cheddar cheese. Tear corn tortillas into quarters and piece them together to form a layer over the cheese. Repeat the process until the casserole reaches the top of the dish.

          Rice Casserole

          • Use leftover white or brown rice as the base for a hearty casserole. Mix about 6 cups of cooked rice with a sauteed onion and some minced garlic. Stir in chopped cooked greens, 1/4 cup cream cheese, 1/2 cup cottage cheese, three eggs and herbs to taste. Spread in a casserole dish and sprinkle a light layer of Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese on top.


        Photo: Rideau Canal in Ottawa Canada at night.

        Ice skaters enjoy the world's longest skating rink—the frozen Rideau Canal, a 19th-century waterway that runs through downtown Ottawa.

        1. A Trip to the Cottage

          Ontario is a big, diverse place and its residents, spread across more than a million square kilometers, don’t lay claim to all that many shared experiences. But if there’s one Ontario tradition that’s nearly universal, it’s the family trip to the cottage.

          Cottage time is all about campfires, canoe rides, and rainy-day board games. Visitors can get in on the action too; rental cottages are widely available. Popular “cottage country” areas include the Kawarthas and Muskoka, both within a couple hours’ drive of Toronto, and the Rideau Lakes, near Ottawa.

        2. Toronto Zoo

          The Toronto Zoo is the largest in Canada, and one of the largest in the world. Its 460-plus animal species are organized by their region of origin. In addition to the main exhibits, the zoo also offers a special children’s zone with demonstrations, a splash park, and interactive activities for kids.

          In recent years the Toronto Zoo has substantially expanded its conservation and education efforts, upgrading animal habitats and funding research projects worldwide. Ask about the zoo’s family-focused educational programs.

        3. Rideau Canal (Ottawa)

          Ottawa’s Rideau Canal is a national historic site and a UNESCO World Heritage site. It was built after the War of 1812 as the key link in a chain of locks, rivers, and lakes that provided an alternate route between Montreal and Kingston, in case of an American invasion of the St. Lawrence River. Today it’s an urban waterway lined with trees and bike paths—perfect for renting a canoe, pedal boat, or bicycle and cruising through downtown. In winter, it’s transformed into the world’s longest skating rink.

        4. Canoeing in Algonquin Provincial Park

          A canoe ride in Algonquin is quintessential Ontario: an endless expanse of water, rock, and pine trees, with the silence broken only by a loon’s call or the splash of a paddle.

          Of course, since the park is enormously popular, it isn’t always quite that idyllic. But while Ontario has plenty of wild, empty backcountry to offer, Algonquin’s level of infrastructure and trip support makes it especially family-friendly, and the park is so vast that it’s almost always possible to find some solitude. Options range from short, easy paddles to multiday, self-supported backcountry canoe-camping trips.

        5. Science North and Dynamic Earth (Sudbury)

          Sudbury’s twin science centers offer hands-on exhibits covering a broad array of scientific topics, often with a northern flavor. At Science North visitors can learn about bush planes and butterflies, try their hand at measuring emissions and air quality in the region, and visit an IMAX theater and a planetarium.

          Nearby at Dynamic Earth, the emphasis is on geology: the highlight is an elevator ride deep underground to a simulated mining environment. Some of the exhibits here offer an opportunity to teach kids about reading and thinking critically.

        6. Canadian Museum of Nature (Ottawa)

          The Canadian Museum of Nature is a natural history playground in the heart of Ottawa. The permanent exhibits feature everything from skeletal dinosaurs to live tarantulas and cockroaches, and traveling exhibitions also rotate through. Some of the displays still tend toward the old school—think taxidermy mammals and painted habitat backdrops—but the newer sections of the museum emphasize interactivity and hands-on learning. Even the museum building itself can be a thrill for kids: It’s castle-like, more than a century old, and rumor has it the place is haunted.

        7. OHL Hockey

          Experience Canada’s national obsession with the OHL (or Ontario Hockey League), a prominent junior hockey league that grooms many future big league hockey stars. It’s open only to players 16 to 20, and its games tend to be fast-paced and highly skilled. They’re also far more affordable than professional NHL games, where the ticket prices rapidly rise into triple digits.

          The league has teams spread out across the province, from Ottawa in the east to Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie in the north and Sarnia in far southwestern Ontario. Weekend afternoon games are particularly family-friendly.

        8. Agawa Canyon Tour Train (Sault Ste. Marie)

          The Algoma Central Railway runs this popular one-day scenic train ride out of Sault Ste. Marie, the northern Ontario city better known as the Soo. The train runs north through a granite wilderness before plunging into the Agawa Canyon. At the bottom, visitors take a 90-minute break; try one of the handful of hiking trails to a waterfall or scenic lookout, or settle down for a picnic.

          Trains are equipped with large windows and monitors showing “engineer’s-eye-view” footage from cameras mounted up front. Snacks and hot or cold meals are available onboard.

        9. Black Creek Pioneer Village (Toronto)

          Black Creek is a classic pioneer village attraction, complete with historic buildings, demonstrations of old-time skills and chores, hands-on activities for kids, and interpreters in period dress. And while it’s largely kid-focused, the village also has a perk for adults: there’s a microbrewery on-site.

          For visitors who can’t make it to Toronto, there are similar working historical villages in other parts of the province: check out Eastern Ontario’s Upper Canada Village, Muskoka Heritage Place, or Fort William Historical Park in Thunder Bay.

        10. Ontario Place (Toronto)

          Ontario Place is an interesting contradiction: a hedonistic theme park run by, of all things, a government agency. The result is a fun hybrid, with carnival standbys like bumper boats and mini-golf on offer alongside large-scale thrill rides, a giant water park, and—here’s where the contrast kicks in—an eco-learning center and an IMAX theater that screens regular nature documentaries.

          Ontario Place is located on the waterfront in downtown Toronto. It’s open from mid-June to early September.



        Italy Tour

        Photo: Trevi Fountain in Rome, Italy

        Trevi Fountain, Rome

        Photograph by Lawrence Goh

        The Fontana di Trevi (Trevi Fountain), located in Rome. Throngs of tourists flock to this fountain to throw their coins in hopes of a return to Rome.


        Photo: Italian mountains and flowers


        Photograph by Gianluca Castagna

        This picture was taken in July 2009, near val Gardena (Dolomiti Alto Adige, Italy), from the famous Sentiero Viel dal Pan and looking toward Sassolungo and Five Fingers on the left of the frame and the Pordoi on the right.


        Photo: Aerial shot of the Florence, Italy Rooftops

        Duomo, Florence

        Photograph by Courtney Townsend

        After climbing approximately 400 stairs to the top of the bell tower in Florence, Italy, I was completely exhausted and began to wonder why I had chosen to climb it in the first place. However, after looking out at the beautiful view of Florence and capturing this image, I knew my climb had been worth it. I was glad I was able to capture the majestic beauty of the dome and the rest of Florence sprawling behind it.


        Photo: Field of sunflowers in Tuscany, Italy.

        Sunflowers, Tuscany

        Photograph by Andrea Quarneri

        Field of sunflowers in Tuscany, Italy. August 2010.


        Photo: Roman Colosseum at night, Italy

        Colosseum, Rome

        Photograph by Douglas Wylie

        I got this shot while traveling through Italy in December. My wife spotted the puddles in the ground and suggested they would make a great reflection.


        Photo: Gondola passing by in Venice, Italy

        Gondola, Venice

        Photograph by Guillaume Leray

        A classic view of Venice, Italy


        Photo: Beach in Gabbice Mare on the Adriatic Sea in Italy.

        Beach, Gabbice Mare

        Photograph by Richard Lalonde

        Colorful parasols and chairs at the beach in Gabbice Mare on the Adriatic Sea in Italy form an interesting pattern.


        Photo: Refuge Hotel in the Italian Alps, Torino, Italy.

        Hotel View, Torino

        Photograph by John Gale

        Sunset at the Refuge Hotel, Torino, 3,375 meters, in the Italian Alps


        Photo: Leaning Tower of Pisa

        Leaning Tower of Pisa

        Photograph by Joe Musalo

        Pisa, Italy


        Photo: Gates of Paradise, Florence Italy

        Gates of Paradise, Florence

        Photograph by Joyce Salvador

        Gates of Paradise, Florence, Italy


        Photo: Women in masks at the Venice Carnival in 2009

        Carnival, Venice

        Photograph by Mariusz Smiejek

        Italy, 2009


        Photo: Shepherd and sheep on the Appian Way.

        Shepherd, Appian Way

        Photograph by Joe Routon

        While visiting Rome, my wife and I were on the Appian Way when we spotted an approaching cloud of dust in the distance. As it drew nearer, we realized that it was a flock of sheep. As the sheep were herded under the aqueduct, I had the realization that this event was something that had happened daily for thousands of years—I was a witness to an ancient and unchanged ritual.


        Photo: Miage lake at the end of the Miage Glacier with the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey in Val Veny, Mont Blanc (Italy).

        Miage Glacier, Italy

        Photograph by Davide Necchi

        The Miage Lake at the end of the Miage Glacier, with the Aiguille Noire de Peuterey in Val Veny, Mont Blanc (Italy)


        Photo: Ratto delle Sabine and a clock at the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence

        Ratto Delle Sabine, Florence

        Photograph by Linda Pecchioli

        This is a detail of Ratto delle Sabine. The clock in the background is that of the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence.


        Photo: Amalfi Coast, Italy

        Amalfi Coast

        Photograph by Ken McCurdy

        I always prefer to shoot on the edges of the day. This was shot en route to a reservation for dinner. The gear is always with me.


        Photo: Gelato shop near Il Campo, Siena, Italy.

        Gelateria, Tuscany

        Photograph by Matt Kelly

        Gelato for sale in a small shop near Il Campo, Siena, Italy


        Photo: Children practice soccer in the afternoon sun of Siena, Italy.

        Soccer Practice, Siena

        Photograph by Adam Austin

        Children practice soccer in the afternoon sun of Siena, Italy.


        Photo: Volcano erupting in Stromboli, Italy, March 2009.

        Mount Stromboli

        Photograph by Fredrik Schenholm

        It is amazing to watch a volcano erupt and to experience how new land forms. This is what Earth could have looked like four billions years ago, with erupting volcanoes and an atmosphere lacking oxygen, producing a different color in the sky. The image was taken in Italy, on the volcano Stromboli, in March 2009.


        Photo: Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy

        Spanish Steps, Rome

        Photograph by Giuseppe Capobianco

        The famous Trinità dei Monti staircase and Piazza di Spagna below, one of the most visited places in Rome.


        Photo: Inside of the Roman Colosseum

        Colosseum, Rome

        Photograph by Vasanth Vs

        Midday at the Colosseum. The light was harsh, giving me much needed rawness for this shot.


        Photo: Tuscany, Italy Hills

        Landscape, Tuscany

        Photograph by Jure Kravanja

        When I was driving last year through Tuscany, Italy, I suddenly saw this beautiful image.


        Photo: Morning in Venice on a terrace overlooking beautiful Santa Maria dei Frari Church.

        Children on Terrace, Venice

        Photograph by Silvia Astoli

        Kids woke up on a clear September morning in Venice, on the terrace of the roof overlooking beautiful Santa Maria dei Frari church, in the heart of Venice (San Polo)


        Photo: A passage of the Bocchette Centrali, on the Dolomiti del Brenta, Italy

        Hiking, Brenta

        Photograph by Claudio Campa

        A spectacular passage of the “via ferrata” Bocchette Centrali, on the Dolomiti del Brenta, Italy. Along the lane there is a wire rope where the people can fasten on.


        Photo: Birds installation in Asisi, Italy


        Photograph by Fotis Mavroudakis



        Photo: Selinunte, an ancient Greek site on the south coast of Sicily, Italy.

        Selinunte, Sicily

        Photograph by Baldur Hólmgeirsson

        Selinunte was one of the most important of the Greek colonies in Sicily, Italy.


        Photo: Capri walking trail and water


        Photograph by Giuseppe Greco

        Italy, 2008


        Photo: Reflection on the Canal Grande in Trieste, Italy

        Canal Grande, Trieste

        Photograph by Zhiqun Fei

        The reflection on the Canal Grande in Trieste, Italy


        Photo: Houses on the island of Burano, in the Venetian lagoon.

        Campanile, Burano

        Photograph by Andrea Johnston

        The island of Burano, in the Venetian lagoon, is known for its brightly painted houses and for traditional lacemaking. The Church of San Martino’s campanile leans at the same five degrees as Pisa’s tower.


        Photo: Gondola ride in Venice, Italy

        Gondolier, Venice

        Photograph by Liz Walker

        Taking a gondola ride in Venice, Italy

        Photo: Pantheon in Rome, Italy.


        Photograph by Roberta Dragan

        Rome, Italy


        Photo: Sunset view from Mount Rocciamelone summit

        Mount Rocciamelone

        Photograph by Roberto Bertero

        Sunset view from the summit of Mount Rocciamelone (3,538 meters/11,603 feet). On the left you can easily see the huge shadow of the mountain’s conical shape projected to infinity.


        Photo: Artist painting a Venetian mask in Venice, Italy

        Mask Painter, Venice

        Photograph by Tamara Simeonovic

        A woman hand paints a mask in a small shop in Venice. All the masks in her shop are made this way.


        Photo: Inside of the 'Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II', in central Milan, Italy

        Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan

        Photograph by David Jessop

        A view of the inside of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in central Milan, Italy

        Photo: Houses located in Napoli, Italy

        Houses, Naples

        Photograph by Bui Alvin

        This is a picture of houses located in Napoli, Italy. I have never seen such a sight of congestion, yet beauty and order at the same time.


        Photo: The Dolomites, Italy


        Photograph by Mirto Fontana



        Photo: Lake near S. Pellegrino Pass in Trentino, Italy.

        Lake, Trentino

        Photograph by Marco Pilla

        Picture taken during a wonderful day of early autumn on the border of a little lake near S. Pellegrino Pass, Trentino, Italy. Dolomiti mountains are famous all over the world for the colors they show during the sunset, but also the season can give them a beautiful livery to exhibit all day long.

        Photo: Couple walking through the Lavaux Wineyards along Lake Geneva Switzerland

        Lavaux Vineyard Terraces, Switzerland

        Photograph by Davide Erbetta, SIME

        The Lavaux Vineyard Terraces blanket the lower mountain slopes along the northern shores of Lake Geneva. Each autumn, the 2,050 acres of ancient vineyards—established by Benedictine and Cistercian monks in the 11th century and protected as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2007—attract hikers who walk and taste their way along the 21-mile Grand Traversée de Lavaux from Ouchy in Lausanne to Chateau de Chillon Castle. Yellow arrows mark the main path, which leads though working vineyards (Chasselas is the region’s predominant wine grape variety) and medieval villages, facilitating frequent refueling stops at local wine cellars, pubs, and restaurants. Saturdays through October 15, the Lavaux Panoramic wine tasting tourist train rolls—on tires, not tracks—through the villages of Chardonne, Chexbres, Rivaz, and St-Saphorin. A crisscross network of public and private railways makes it easy to explore the entire Lavaux region on foot or by bike. Or, if you’re up to the challenge, join the thousands of runners expected for the Lausanne Marathon on October 30, which follows the shore road between Lake Geneva and the terraced hillsides.


        Photo: Woman poors beer at the Cannstatter Volkfest in Stuttgart Germany

        Cannstatter Volkfest, Stuttgart, Germany

        Photograph by Sascha Feuster and Thomas Meier

        Munich’s Oktoberfest may be bigger, but Stuttgart’s Cannstatter Volkfest—billed as the world’s second largest beer-drinking event—is considered Germany’s more authentic celebration of local heritage and, of course, beer. Launched as an agricultural fair in 1818—a symbolic 78-foot-high “fruit column” pays homage to the past—the three-week festival (September 23-October 9, 2011) features live music, a re-created Alpine village, and carnival rides. The action centers on massive festival tents accommodating up to 5,000 revelers each. Between steins of pilsner, sample traditional Käsespätzle (Swabian noodles with cheese) and make time to retreat to the Stuttgart region’s terraced hillsides and natural mineral springs, as well as the nearby Black Forest. Recognized as a global car capital—both the Mercedes-Benz and Porsche museums are worth a visit—Stuttgart also is part of one of Germany’s largest wine growing regions. Sample this year’s vintage and homemade Swabian dishes at a cozy Besenwirtschaften or “Besa” (wine inn). Hosted by local farmers and vineyard owners in their dining rooms, kitchens, and gardens, these temporary restaurants only operate for four months between September and April, when they serve up some of the region’s freshest, homegrown fare.


        Photo: Fishing boat on the water in Destin Florida

        Emerald Coast, Florida

        Photograph by Jim Vail, My Shot

        Autumn along northwestern Florida’s 24-mile-long Emerald Coast brings fewer tourists and lower, “value season” rates to the wide, sugar-white beaches of Destin, Fort Walton, and Okaloosa Island. The summer-worthy temperatures (highs in the 80s, lows in the 60s) are ideal for swimming in clear, emerald-green Gulf of Mexico waters or for golfing the more than 1,080 manicured, championship holes. October’s monthlong Destin Fishing Rodeo draws more than 30,000 saltwater anglers to the self-proclaimed World’s Luckiest Fishing Village to compete for daily, weekly, and overall prizes. Watch the daily weigh-ins of king mackerel, marlin, sailfish, and other game fish on the docks at A.J.’s Seafood & Oyster Bar. Sample fresh-from-the-docks seafood at historic Staff’s Restaurant, the Emerald Coast’s first eatery, which is housed in a 1913 barrel-shaped Fort Walton warehouse and open daily for dinner. The signature Broiled Skillet—grouper, shrimp, scallops, and crabmeat stuffing drizzled with cheese—comes with baskets of fresh-baked wheat bread.


        Photo: Customers order ice cream inside Jeni's Splendid ice cream in Columbus Ohio

        Columbus, Ohio

        Photograph by Shari Lewis, Dispatch Photos

        Ohio’s capital and largest city celebrates harvest season with a bounty of traditional fall festivals, farmers markets, and corn mazes. Pick your own apples (September) and pumpkins (October) at Lynd’s Fruit Farm in Pataskala, and, the first weekend in October (contingent on the harvest), jump in the barrel to stomp whole grapes at Via Vecchi Winery’s annual grape crush. Enjoy east-central Ohio’s spectacular fall colors by walking, biking, hiking, or camping at one of the 17 Columbus-area Metro Parks. The largest, Battelle Darby Creek in Galloway, covers more than 7,000 acres of flowering prairies, restored wetlands, and forests, and is home to diverse wildlife, including six female bison introduced to the park in February. In October, Columbus also hosts thousands of migratory birds at the Grange Insurance Audubon Center. The 72-acre Scioto River oasis, built on a reclaimed industrial waste site, is a ten-minute walk from downtown. Other areas to explore on foot include the brick-paved streets of the historic German Village neighborhood—originally settled by German immigrants in the mid-1800s—and the Short North Arts District, home to galleries, restaurants, pubs, and one of the hometown-favorite Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams shops.


        Photo: Aerial view of Chumbe Island Coral Park resort in Zanzibar Tanzania

        Zanzibar, Tanzania

        Photograph by Paul Bruins

        Sultans, sailors, slaves, and spice traders have all passed through this mystical Indian Ocean archipelago on East Africa’s Swahili Coast. Located 22 miles from mainland Tanzania, semi-autonomous Zanzibar consists of two main islands—Unguja (Zanzibar) and Pemba—plus numerous smaller islands. The diverse human history (dating back at least 20,000 years to the Paleolithic Age) and natural beauty (turquoise water, coral reefs, and white sands) create an exotic backdrop for a fall beach or diving vacation based at a small-scale resort like Chumbe Island Coral Park, a private nature reserve featuring palm-thatched bungalows. Skies typically are clear through the end of October, with “short rains” returning in November. Supporting the islands’ geotourism efforts includes respecting the majority Muslim population’s modest dress code, particularly when wandering the beguiling maze of cobbled lanes in Zanzibar’s ancient trading port, Stone Town. Join a living history tour to learn the stories of this UNESCO World Heritage site. Top stops include the haunting slave memorial erected on a former auction block, and Beit al-Ajaib, a 19th-century sultan’s palace that’s now the House of Wonders Museum of History and Culture of Zanzibar and the Swahili Coast.


        Churchill, Manitoba, Canada

        Photograph by Paul Nicklen, National Geographic

        No roads lead through the remote northern boreal wilderness directly into tiny Churchill, so plan to arrive by train or plane to see the area’s most famous fall residents—polar bears. More than a thousand of the world’s largest land carnivores migrate through the “polar bear capital of the world” during October and November, when the first ice forms on the edge of Hudson Bay. The frozen conditions make it easier for hungry bears to hunt for seals (by walking instead of swimming) and give super-size Tundra Buggies solid ground on which to carry small tour groups out to see the wildlife. Prepare for snowy, winter weather—insulated boots, jacket, and gloves; layered clothing; thermal underwear; and wool socks and hat are required. Stay in town at the cozy, trading-post-style Lazy Bear Lodge (and hop a sled dog ride next door at Wapusk General Store), or bunk among the bears in the bare-bones Tundra Buggy Lodge at Polar Bear Point. These module units are assembled annually in a Wildlife Management Area site chosen for optimal 24/7 polar bear viewing.


        Dublin, Ireland

        Photograph by Raul Touzon, National Geographic

        Birthplace of Beckett, Joyce, and Yeats, Ireland’s capital and largest city is a youthful arts, entertainment, culture, and commerce hub. Fall brings fewer tourists and lower temperatures (40s and 50s in October), ideal for walking the historic Georgian streets and cruising the River Liffey. Discover your own Irish history at The Shelbourne Dublin, where guest amenities include a genealogy butler. Pack a hooded rain jacket (just in case) to explore the city’s 4,900 acres of public gardens, nature reserves, and parks, including center-city St. Stephen’s Green, which borders Grafton Street, one of the world’s most expensive retail locations. Stroll to main stage productions and film screenings at the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival (September 29-October 16). Along the way, nosh on traditional, paper-wrapped fish and chips at Leo Burdock. Healthier eats will be on the menu October 31, when more than 10,000 runners are expected for the National Lottery Dublin Marathon, dubbed “the Friendly Marathon” for the affable crowds cheering on the pack.


        White Mountains, New Hampshire

        Photograph by Pat and Chuck Blackley

        While peak fall foliage varies annually, the 100-mile White Mountain Trail typically delivers brilliant fall colors from the end of September through the second week of October. Yet, even after the leaves have faded and the leaf-peeping crowds have gone home, meandering this National Scenic Byway reveals classic New England fall scenes—historic covered bridges, granite mountain peaks, dramatic gorges, rushing cascades, and bucolic Colonial-era farmhouses and barns. Each section of the loop displays a unique personality. Drive the 37-mile Kancamagus Highway—“the Kanc”—for mountain vistas, moose sightings, and bird-watching; visit North Conway for tax-free outlet shopping, the trail’s largest concentration of restaurants, and Conway Scenic Railroad train trips; and travel the Crawford Notch-to-Bartlett stretch to ride the Mount Washington Cog Railway to the 6,288-foot summit of New England’s highest peak, or drive to the top via the Mt. Washington Auto Road. The iconic New Hampshire tourist attraction celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2011 and, weather permitting, is scheduled to remain open for passenger car travel until October 23 this season.


        Shoreline Highway, Marin County, California

        Photograph by Greg Lato

        Shoreline Highway—Marin County’s winding, two-lane stretch of Highway 1 from Sausalito to the Sonoma County line—snakes through the Marin Headlands, hugs stunning coastal bluffs, and passes through Stinson Beach, a classic California beach community. Off-road mountain biking was born here—and on-road cyclists are ubiquitous—so take it slow, preferably in a hybrid vehicle to limit emissions and avoid running out of gas. Temps can be 10-to-15 degrees cooler than in nearby San Francisco, so bring a jacket, even on hot days. To enjoy the most expansive Pacific views, wait until the morning fog clears before making the drive north from the Golden Gate Bridge. Fuel up in Sausalito, and then stop at Muir Woods National Monument to walk among thousands of giant, old-growth redwoods. Before nightfall—since the scenic curves can be deadly in the dark—check-in at the Inn at Roundstone Farm, located within Point Reyes National Seashore. Spend a day exploring the seashore’s dramatic rocky headlands, 150 miles of hiking trails, and 2,600-acre tule elk reserve, where the fall rut (the late-summer to early-fall breeding season) inspires magnificent bull elks to bugle, battle, and butt antlers for affection.


        Day of the Dead, Puebla, Mexico

        Photograph by Russell Gordon, Aurora Photos

        There are better-known Día de los Muertos celebrations in Mexico, but spending the extended holiday (October 31-November 2) in the Puebla state capital puts you in close proximity to the elaborate Day of the Dead ofrendas (offerings) in tiny Huaquechula. Families here spend thousands of dollars erecting towering, multistory altars (typically a cardboard foundation draped in satin) adorned with wax candles, a photo of the deceased, and a sampling of his or her favorite food and drink. Hire a local guide in Puebla to make the bumpy, 35-mile ride west, and then follow the trails of marigold petals to homes where guests are welcome to pay their respects (and, perhaps, share a tequila toast to the dearly departed). Bring along a few coins or a sugar calavera, or skull—available from village vendors—to place on the ofrenda table. Back in Puebla, head to the Casa de la Cultura to view the indigenous and modern altar-building contest entries and visit with the artists.

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