England

8 Famous London Landmarks You Must Visit

London has so much history that it is practically swimming in it. It would take weeks before you got to see everything you wanted to when visiting London, and that’s only if you limit yourself to things and place you know. Below is a list of our favorite of the famous London landmarks that are just too exciting to pass up and are certainly worth your time.

1. Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre

Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre
Globe Theater

Very little is known about Shakespeare in his early days in London, but most everyone knows he is famous for his near genius plays. With his famous plays like Romeo and Juliet, MacBeth and Hamlet, Shakespeare was a brilliant writer, and his work is still considered to be some of the best ever, making this one trip that most will find fascinating.

The Globe was built in 1576 by actor-manager James Burbage in Shoreditch, the first structure built specifically for plays. It wasn’t until the 1580’s that Shakespeare would join the troupe, but it was from this point on that the Globe Theatre would flourish into a powerhouse for over 20 years.

The original Globe Theatre burned to the ground, was rebuilt and then finally demolished in 1644 after it was closed in 1642 under England’s Puritan administration.

A project emerged to restore glory to the Globe in 1949 headed by Sam Wanamaker, American actor, producer and director, and was designed as close to as accurate as humanly possible to the original, based on drawings and analysis of the original site of the Globe. This is the Globe Theatre we see today in London, but it is just as magnificent as the original.

2. The Tower of London

Tower of London
Tower of London

While it is not known exactly when the Tower’s construction began, the first phase of building was underway during the 1070’s by William the Conqueror. By 1100, the Tower was completed and was the most impressive fortress ever constructed.

Around 1530, Henry VIII continued the work that was first started by Henry VII, his father, to finish royal residential buildings. It was also around this time that the Tower would become famous for its royal prison.

A few other minor projects were also commissioned, but the Tower remained relatively untouched and that is how the Tower looks today. Although there was damage to the massive fortress turned prison during the World Wars, tourists will still be able to view to Tower in near original condition.

3. Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge, one of the famouse London landmarks
Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge is located just south of the Tower of London, and crosses the Thames. In my mind, it’s what I always think of when I hear “London Bridge”, but that moniker is actually for a different and less beautiful bridge.

Both vehicles and pedestrians use the bridge itself to cross from one side of the Thames to the other. The two towers – arguably the most recognizable part of Tower Bridge – contain an exhibit that teaches how and why the bridge was built, as well as other parts of its fascinating history. You can even visit the steam engines that originally powered the “bascules” – the parts of the bridge that can be raised to allow taller river traffic to pass below. The best part of visiting the exhibition is the spectacular views it affords of the city of London.

If you’re brave enough, you may enjoy the glass floor, where you can walk between the towers and look straight down into the Thames! Not for the faint of heart. Tickets to the exhibition are reasonably affordable at £10.60 for an adult.

4. Big Ben and Parliament

I bet most people know exactly what Big Ben is – the tall clock in the middle of London. Did you know that it’s part of the Palace of Westminster, where Parliament meets? I didn’t realize that before I visited; I thought it was just freestanding. In truth, I’d never given it much though. The clock itself sits in Elizabeth Tower, which was renamed from Clock Tower in 2012 to honor Queen Elizabeth II.

Big Ben in 316 feet tall and its construction was completed in 1859.

Unfortunately, Big Ben and Elizabeth Tower have been undergoing significant restoration work. When I was there in 2019, it was completely hidden by scaffolding. Work is scheduled to be completed in 2022 when its bells will hopefully begin ringing again.

As mentioned above, both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, which together make up Parliament, meet at the Palace of Westminster, which Big Ben is a part of.

5. Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey is a neighbor to Westminster Palace, so these are easy to see at the same time. However, make sure to plan ahead because, even before the COVID pandemic, the visiting hours for Westminster Abbey were fewer than most attractions. Some days it’s closed altogether, and other days the hours are short.

Westminster Abbey is where the kings and queens of England are coronated, and has been since the days of William the Conqueror in 1066. The Coronation Chair is probably the biggest draw to this London landmark. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee galleries, which are housed in a medieval part of the building that was previously unopen to the public, are also popular. They require a special timed ticket in addition to a general admission ticket. You may also wish to see Poet’s Corner, in which are buried (or simply honored) such poets as Geoffrey Chaucer, Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling, Thomas Hardy, and C.S. Lewis.

You can attend regular church services at Westminster Abbey, however. Find out more on their website if you are interested in attending a service.

6. Abbey Road

Abbey Road Studios
Abbey Road Studios

If you’re more into pop culture than history, then Abbey Road is for you! Most people go there to walk the crosswalk that was made famous by the Beatles when they walked across it for the photo on their album of the same name. But there’s more than just the crosswalk. Nearby is also Abbey Road Studios, where the Beatles recorded a lot of their music.

The gift shop has lots of Beatles merchandise for sale, such a variety that hardcode fans and casual travelers will both enjoy.

Abbey Road is reached by an easy, short walk from the St John’s Wood Underground station.

7. National Gallery

Art enthusiasts visiting London will enjoy a trip to the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square. It’s famous for housing more than 2300 paintings from across England and continental Europe. The collection includes pieces by da Vinci, Botticelli, Vermeer, Michelangelo, and more. Entry into the National Gallery is technically free, and you can book a no-cost ticket online. However, a donation is suggested. You must book a ticket in order to enter.

In addition to the exhibits – some which are permanent and others that come and go – you can find dining and shopping at the National Gallery. The shop contains books, prints, and art-related gifts that also make wonderful souvenirs.

8. Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace

In 1236, the manor of Hampton was acquired by the Knights Hospitallers of St John Jerusalem and was used as a farming area. Not much is known about how it was built, but it was once a small complex and then later a palace. It wasn’t until around 1520 that Hampton Court would become a place that royalty would use as a vacation outlet.

In the 1530’s, Henry VIII spent more than 62,000 Pounds (18 million Euros in today’s market) rebuilding and extending Hampton Court.

While a number of other kings took residence here, none of them put as much money and effort into making Hampton Court Palace what it is seen as today.

In addition to visiting the Palace and walking through the labyrinth of rooms, you can expect to spend much of your time in the gardens as well. With the beautifully decorated grounds, fountains, mazes and flowers, the surrounding areas of Hampton Court Palace are just as spectacular as the interior.

This post just touches on some of the famous London landmarks that you may want to visit. Whether you’ve been to London many times, or are making your first trip to this amazing city, make sure to plan out your time accordingly. There is truly so much to see and do that you’d have to live a lifetime there to take it all in!

England Nature and Wildlife Travel

My Exciting Trip to Birdfair in Rutland, England

Some people travel to gain life experience. Others travel for business, or for family, or for adventure.

Me? I travel for birds.

True, I also travel for those other things, but primarily most of my travel is centered around birds. And in 2019, I had a chance to take my first trip to England and experience the largest birding festival in the country. It’s complete name is the British Birdwatching Fair, but everyone just calls it Birdfair.

About Birdfair

Birdfair tent and booths
Birdfair tent and booths

Interestingly, Birdfair is held a bit in the middle of nowhere. Each year in August, the nature preserve of Rutland Water hosts over 20,000 birding enthusiasts. If I counted correctly, there are ten tents, each with between 16-100 booths. Each both represents a business or interest, such as:

  • bird tour companies from all over the world
  • binocular and scope vendors (“optics”)
  • conservation groups
  • food and drink
  • photographers
  • crafters

Best of all, when you attend Birdfair, you’re surrounded by people who love birds as much as you do!

Visiting SO MANY Booths!

My friend and I travelled from Florida to Rutland to enjoy as many of these vendors as we could visit! There were around 450 booths and I estimated we saw about 75% of them.

The downside was that it rained throughout the entire festival. We were literally the only two people not wearing Wellies (rainboots). Of course there was a booth that sold them, but neither of us could fit them into our luggage for the flight home, so we made do. We traipsed through tent after tent until our feet were sore and tired as well as wet and muddy! But it didn’t get us down. We had tea and cake in the mud. We sampled craft gin in the mud. I bought a beautiful print of a barn owl in flight – from a barn! – in the mud. (I was standing in the mud; the barn in the photograph wasn’t muddy.) No amount of rain could dampen our spirits.

The main disappointment about the rain was that we didn’t get to actually do any birding while at Birdfair! But that was OK, because we’d been to the London Wetlands a few days prior, and after Birdfair ended, we went to Cley Marshes, Flamborough Point, Bempton Cliffs, and Stiff Key with a good friend and birder to act as our guide, so we just used those trips as birding adventure “bookends”.

Birdfair Lectures

Birdfair lecture by Dominic Couzens
Birdfair lecture by Dominic Couzens

We also really enjoyed several lectures. My favorite was one “30 Birds to See Before You Die” by Dominic Couzens. See, one of the things I learned while birding in England was that I’m what they call a “twitcher”. And I proudly admit it. I want to see as many species as I can, preferably in their natural, original environments, before I leave this earth. Twitchers are people who take off at the drop of a hat to see a rare bird or one they’ve never seen before. I think it’s a bit of a derogatory term, but I love it. It just sounds so British. So being the species-chasing twitcher that I am, this talk really appealed to me. I purchased a copy of Couzens’s book 100 Birds to See Before You Die and had it signed.

My friend is a member of the Oriental Birding Club in England, so we already had a great group of people to hang out with. We got to enjoy a private happy hour put on by RSPB (The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds) where Old Speckled Hen became my new favorite beer. It was a great chance to socialize with other birders and to learn about conservation efforts around the UK.

Around Town

Wing Hall, Oakham
View from our shepherd’s hut at Wing Hall, Oakham

We stayed at nearby Wing Hall in Oakham. What a beautiful estate! We rented one of their adorable shepherd’s huts for a weekend of (rainy) glamping. It was the perfect balance between camping and comfort. And the view outside our front door was beautiful. It was a quick drive in our rental car from Wing Hall to Birdfair each day, where we parked in the muddy but otherwise convenient parking grounds.

After Birdfair ended on Friday and Saturday, we hit up two different local pubs for dinner and drinks with friends from the Oriental Birding Club. They shared some great stories, including a trip several of them had made to Indonesia to track down the elusive Seram thrush. We enjoyed local food (British food is actually quite good!) and several delicious beers.

Saturday morning we also went for breakfast to a roadside diner that was incredibly good! It was run by a husband and wife team, and I probably wouldn’t have had the nerve to stop in if one of our companions hadn’t already tried it and recommended it.

After Birdfair

As I mentioned above, the weather cleared up after Birdfair ended and we headed north to the Norfolk coast. We enjoyed some amazing birding and my twitching self was able to add a lot of new species to my life live.

Would I go back? Absolutely. Because I didn’t get to see Chris Packham. In fact, I didn’t even know who he is at the time. You may not either! He’s one of England’s most famous wildlife speakers and conservationists. In fact, he was mentioned to us twice, and we play along even though we were clueless. Now I know better! I would also love to go back for more birding at Rutland Water, if we could get there when it wasn’t raining. And I would absolutely stay in those adorable Shepherd’s huts again!

Unfortunately, Birdfair was cancelled in 2020 and has been cancelled again in 2021, because of COVID. I hope it will be back by 2022 – and that our lives will have mostly returned to normal by then – and maybe I can go back. If not in 2022, then before too long.

After all, there are more species I still need to see!

If you would like to see more about our trip, as well as some of the bird photos I took, please visit this post on thehelpfulbirder.com.

Digital Nomads Travel Photography

Actionable Advice to Build an Amazing Travel Photography Business with Social Media

If you’re trying to get a job, build your portfolio, or develop your travel photography business, there are lots of approaches that you can take. Experience builds skills, so obviously you want to be taking as many photos and learning as much as you can.

But you also have to promote yourself. And that’s something that many photographers don’t naturally excel at. We’re photographers because we have an eye for beauty, an innate sense of telling a story through imagery, and because we’ve learned certain skills related to the technical and artistic sides of photography. That doesn’t necessarily mean we’re good at self promotion and drumming up new business.

How to Build Your Travel Photography Business with Social Media
How to Build Your Travel Photography Business with Social Media

There are many ways to gain exposure as a photographer, and to grow your client base. Word of mouth is important, as is a good portfolio of work that you can submit as examples.

But did you know social media is also very important for professional photographers?

If you love social media, then yes, you probably already know that. But many people really don’t care to use it for personal reasons. If that’s true for you, you might not understand the importance of social media and how it can kickstart your travel photography business.

In this post, I’ll introduce you to promoting your business on social media. I discuss the benefits of several social media channels, and explain what to include in your profile and how to use it to drive potential clients to become interested in your business.

Why You Should Use Social Media

There are approximately 7.7 billion people in the world.

Almost 4 billion of those use social media.

Almost 4 Billion people use social media
Almost 4 Billion people use social media

The question isn’t why should you use social media. The question is, why aren’t you jumping at the opportunity?

In business, it’s always smart to advertise in the location where your customers already hang out. By “advertise”, I simply mean actively participate. (I’m not tackling paid advertising in this post.) Given those numbers above, the chance is really good that the majority of your clients and potential clients are already using social media.

Additional, organic use of social media doesn’t cost anything. They don’t charge you for an account, for posts, for followers or likes, or anything else – unless you get into paid advertising or LinkedIn Premium. Yes, it takes time. You have to spend time learning how to make the most of the social platform tools, as well as allocating time for content creation. It takes some effort to choose photos and write a compelling caption to go with them.

But the payouts can be enormous. A booked schedule. A paid journalistic trip. A publishing deal.

Which Social Media Channel is Best?

Any of the major social media channels can help you build your travel photography business, so in some ways this comes down to personal preference. I suggest choosing one – maybe two, max, if you have enough time – and do everything you can to master them. Then you may want to add another channel, but you don’t have to.

The point is, it’s better to build a focused following and regular distribution on 1-2 channels, than it is to have next-to-nothing on 10 social media sites.

However, I’m going to tell you something that sounds counter-intuitive. Go make accounts for yourself on all of the big social media sites: Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and TikTok. This is especially true if your name is somewhat common, or you want to use a keyword-specific or brand name that might get taken by others. The only reason you’re doing this is to reserve your account if you ever want to use these sites in the future.

I personally recommend the following social networks for aspiring photographers. This isn’t to say that others aren’t as good, but I’m going to focus on what I know best!

Instagram for Travel Photographers

Of the three sites, I’m covering, Instagram is the most image-focused. (Pun intended!) This makes it perfect for a portfolio, to showcase your work or sample photos. By default, images are shown in a grid format where the thumbnails are square, unless you do a little extra work when posting them to change away from a square. But when someone visits your profile and clicks on an image, and scrolls down to see more images, they don’t have to appear square there.

The biggest limitation on Instagram is that you only get one link, and that’s from the top of your profile page. You can use it to link to your website, an online inquiry tool, or another social media profile. For photographers, that’s usually ok…you’re generally sharing your visual work as the primary “product”, rather than needing to link to blog posts or physical products on an e-commerce site. So just keep this limitation in mind. (Also if you grow to more than 10,000 followers, you can add “swipe up” links to your Instagram stories, so that’s another opportunity for links.)

Instagram also is strongly focused on hashtags, like #destinationweddingphotographer or #travelblogger. As a user, you can follow hashtags and photos that use them will show up in your home feed. You can also search for hashtags, or click a hashtag on one photo to see other photos that use the same hashtag.

You can also check your profile analytics and see how well hashtags are working for you. Instagram doesn’t break down the analytics by specific hashtag, but it shows you how many visits came from all hashtags for a given post.

Travel Photography Hashtags for Instagram

Here are some of my favorite travel photography hashtags for Instagram. Depending on your business, you may find others that work better for you. But here’s my gift to you: a free list of travel photography hashtags that you can test for your own business:

  • #adventureawaits
  • #cityscapephotography
  • #doyoutravel
  • #hello_worldpics
  • #igtravel
  • #instapassport
  • #instatravel
  • #instatravelling
  • #mytravelgram
  • #postcardsfromtheworld
  • #postcardplaces
  • #travelgram
  • #travelingplanet
  • #travelingram
  • #travelingworld
  • #travelinspo
  • #travelista
  • #travelphoto
  • #travelphotography
  • #travelphotographyclub
  • #travelphotographyguide
  • #travelphotographylovers
  • #travelphotographysociety
  • #travelpics
  • #travelpicsdaily
  • #traveltheworld
  • #travelvibes
  • #worldcaptures

Facebook for Travel Photographers

In my opinion, Facebook can focus less on your photographs, but more on your business, than Instagram. Because Instagram is owned by Facebook and advertising on both is done mostly through Facebook, these two platforms can complement each other.

When you create a page for your travel photography business on Facebook, you can obviously upload photographs. But it’s less of a gallery style and has more of a blog post-like format. You can also create a call to action (“learn more” or “call now” or “sign up”) for the top of your page, instead of just having a URL. And it’s a great place to showcase your offerings as well as your experience.

Facebook is the largest social media site in the world. And because your clients or employer probably use it, that means they can actively engage with you there. They can tag you, and you can tag them (with permission) in each others’ posts. People can share your posts, if you allow, so others can see them. That can be a great crossover between word-of-mouth advertising and social media. And because of its size, your travel photography business’s Facebook page is very likely to show up in Google if someone searches on your name.

LinkedIn for Travel Photographers

Think of LinkedIn as your resume turned into social media. It’s not a portfolio like Instagram, and it’s not as great of a way to interact with individuals as Facebook.

But if you’re looking for a JOB, then LinkedIn is where you should be.

Use LinkedIn to highlight your experience as much as anything else. If you have already worked in photography or journalism, this is a great way to showcase your employment history. Even if you’ve worked in another field for a long time, it shows your job history, always an important part of the hiring decision.

You can also use LinkedIn to build connections with publications such as blogs, newspapers, and magazines. Reach out to them to introduce yourself and briefly describe what you do. Don’t be sales-y, but explain that you’re seeking employment and a bit about what your skills are and what kind of job you want.

What should your profile focus on?

Again, this depends on your objective.

If you’re a freelancer seeking clients, show your photographs! It doesn’t matter whether you want to shoot landscapes, weddings, or family portraits; potential clients want to see what you can produce. A picture is worth a thousand words, they say, but when you’re a photographer the pictures are really EVERYTHING.

If you are seeking a job in photojournalism, your profile should focus on your photography, but also your writing skills. This includes primary writing sources, such as examples of published articles. But it also includes secondary writing, such as what you write on your posts themselves. Keep in mind that every part of your profile should showcase the quality of your work.

If you have relevant experience, make sure to include that, especially on LinkedIn. It’s also great to include “bona fides” such as client testimonials, sample writing, and portfolio work. Some of these can be featured in your Instagram Story Highlights that appear at the top of your page.

And no matter what kind of work you’re seeking, or which platforms you use, a method to contact you is extremely important! Make sure your link goes to a page with some kind of contact information, whether that’s a phone number, email address, or interest form. No one can hire you if they can’t find you.

Conclusion

For most of us, social media isn’t going to make us famous. But it’s a tool, and in the hands of a good carpenter (that’s you in this analogy!) it can work wonders for your travel photography business.

Schedule a day or half-day for yourself. Secure your profiles on each network, then pick one to get started. Post some sample work to “seed” your account. Follow clients, potential clients, colleagues, even competition that inspires you. Comment, like, and engage. Learn how to use stories to keep your content more visible, and how to use groups to build connections and grow your skills. In short, be present on social media. When you give love to social media, there’s a really good chance it will love you back.

Florida Travel

Where to Eat in Marathon, Florida – A Foodie’s Guide

In our family, we are creatures of habit, and it seems our habit is going to the Florida Keys for Spring Break. This year we ended up in Marathon, so I wanted to where with you the different Marathon, FL restaurants we patronized.

Usually we stay on Big Pine Key, which is about 20 minutes beyond Marathon. But it’s close enough that we’ve tried some of these places before our 2021 spring trip. Big Pine Key is smaller and quieter, and has fewer things to do than Marathon, so we usually spend at least one day here even when we don’t stay here. I will say Marathon is the perfect distance between Key Largo (closest to Miami) and Key West (the last town and key you can drive to). It’s not far to go either direction if you want to do something that’s not available in Marathon. Plus there are great options for hotels, rental homes, and RV parks in the Florida keys nearby.

If you’re looking for restaurant reviews, keep on reading. The first three are honestly the best places to eat in Marathon.

1. Keys Fisheries – 5 Stars

Starting out the list is one of my favorite place to eat anywhere, and it just happens to be in Marathon! Keys Fisheries has some of the freshest seafood you’ll find anywhere, and am amazing selection. No matter if you’re in the mood for conch, shrimp, lobster, stone crab, or fish, they’ve got something you’re sure to love.

This isn’t a place you go for ambiance, but it’s #1 on my list for food. When you arrive, you’ll order from the window – probably after standing in a decently-long but manageable line! Order whatever you’re in the mood for, and they’ll cook it on demand and call you to come pick it up from the next window when it’s ready. They don’t ask your name to mark the order though; they’ll ask you your favorite ocean creature, so be ready with something creative. Or you can steal mine – “lemon shark”.

Expect to wait 10-20 minutes for most items to be prepared.

Lobster Reuben Sandwich at Keys Fisheries, Marathon, FL
Lobster Reuben Sandwich at Keys Fisheries

They are known for their lobster Rueben sandwich. It’s just like a regular Rueben, except that it includes chopped Florida lobster tail instead of corned beef. That means you’re getting rye bread, lobster, sauerkraut, and thousand island dressing. As of this writing, they have served over 381,000 of these famous sandwiches! I love a traditional Reuben sandwich, and this has the same feel but definitely a slightly different taste due to the lobster and the lack of the traditional salt-cured beef. It’s DELICIOUS.

I’ve also had the following and every single one has been delicious: conch fritters (Keys Fisheries has some of the best around!), lobster bisque, mahi tacos, lobster mac and cheese, and stone crab. I have to admit though, I’ve never tried their Key Lime Pie! So now I have an obvious reason to go back.

Two more things to note. First, if you catch your own fish, you can bring it there and they’ll cook it for you. And second, they’ve recently struck a partnership with Florida Winn Dixie stores, so if you’re located in Florida and craving their soup, check our your local Winn Dixie grocery store. They also have a partnership with Whole Foods and you find find some of their items at that store.

I also want to give you one insider tip! There is only one restroom near the bar, and it sometimes develops a line. However, there are additional restrooms in the parking lot. So if you need one more quickly just go to the parking lot!

Visit Keys Fisheries Website

2. Island Fish Co.- 5 Stars

Island Fish Company is a great place for either lunch or dinner, and has a little more of an atmosphere than Keys Fisheries. The restaurant itself has mostly (if not all) outdoor eating. It is on the bay side of Marathon, so you can see amazing sunsets here. But the view is beautiful any time of day. They have great drinks, especially their frozen Pain in the A$$, which is half pina colada and half rum runner. Perfect if you’re having trouble making up your mind! Beer drinkers, don’t stop at the main menu…I asked if they had anything additional, and they brought me a daily craft beer list that had some good, additional choices.

She Krab Soup at Island Fish Company, Marathon, Florida
She Krab Soup at Island Fish Company

A great way to start here is with the Island She Crab soup. If you’re from South Carolina like me, or love to eat she crab soup in Charleston, you’ll find this one a little unexpected. It looks more like a potato-less chowder…it’s white instead of peachy-colored. But it’s so good, so don’t let the color throw you off.

Stone Crab Claw at Island Fish Company
Stone Crab Claw at Island Fish Company

They also have amazing Florida stone crabs in the appetizer section, when they’re in stock. These aren’t cheap, but they’re so good and a treat if you like stone crabs! They come with a delicious mustard sauce, which I saved and dipped my cauliflower in. (I hate “albino broccoli” but anything tastes good in this sauce!)

Hogfish at Island Fish Company, Marathon, FL
Hogfish at Island Fish Company

As for entrees, I love the hogfish here. If you’re not familiar with it, hogfish is a white fish with a name that isn’t as appetizing as it should be, because this is a delicious fish! It’s mild, flaky, and incredible. I always order it pan-seared, which I think is the best way to bring out the flavor. My husband got it once cooked almondine, and we both agreed it wasn’t as good as the pan-seared version.

Not in the mood for fish? My son ordered the shrimp quesadillas, and he said they’re amazing. Granted, he’s a teenager with a never-ending appetite, but he does have good taste.

Oyster Shooter at the Island Fish Company, Marathon, FL
Oyster Shooter at the Island Fish Company, Marathon, FL

Finally, if you’re brave enough, try an oyster shooter. It’s a raw oyster in vodka that you toss back like any other shot. It’s not my thing, but my husband said it was amazing!

I will say I’ve been here several times, and all were excellent, except one. Unfortunately, I can’t remember what I ordered that time – maybe a steak of some kind. It wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t that good. I’m considering that an anomaly, though, because the other visits were nearly perfect.

Visit Island Fish Co. Website

3. Castaway Waterfront Restaurant and Sushi Bar – 5 Stars

Castaway was #1 the must-do, as far as food goes, from the list I made during my trip planning. They’re really, shall we say, versatile? The menu incudes sushi, sandwiches, wings, a raw bar, fresh fish, and Mexican dishes. Some really unique items are on the dinner menu, like a elk chop dinner and lobster mac-n-cheese.

But what had caught my eye was the lion fish sushi roll! Lion fish is an invasive species of salt-water fish that’s really been causing problems in Florida waters. So if you eat lion fish, you’re helping the environment, or so I like to think! They aren’t easy to catch, because they have stinging barbs that can literally penetrate Kevlar (what bullet-proof vests are made of). So it’s not super affordable, but I’d tasted it cooked before, and I had to give this roll a try.

Lionfish Sushi Roll at Castaway
Lionfish Sushi Roll at Castaway

The official roll name is King of the Jungle roll. It’s described as lionfish, asparagus, and avocado inside, topped with masago, chopped escolar (my favorite sushi fish), wakame (seaweed salad), and sesame seeds. Well let me just say this roll did not disappoint! It was so good! My daughters both got spider rolls – fried soft-shell crab – which is a sushi standard but they wolfed it down so it was apparently good.

Softshell Crab Sandwich at Castaway in Marathon, FL
Softshell Crab Sandwich at Castaway

My son ordered a soft shell crab sandwich. When this thing came out, we all thought, what on earth? It was definitely a soft-shell crab because it still looked like one! Just deep-fried and put on a bun. It wasn’t the most appetizing dish to look at, but one bite and he was hooked. I tasted it and it was delicious!

Castaway is a casual place with a view of a small harbor but not much to brag about, however, the food and the friendly waitress more than made up for that. They have both indoor and outdoor seating, and the outdoor bar seems to be a popular place for locals to hang out and day drink.

The other great thing is that you can make a reservation here. A lot of restaurants in marathon don’t take reservations, so you’ll either eat early or late, or expect a long wait. Especially if you have a family of five. So I was really happy to see that they accept reservations at Castaway.

Visit Castaway Website

4. Lazy Days South – 4 Stars

Lazy days is set a block or two off the Overseas Highway on the ocean-side. It has a large covered patio for dining that faces west, as well as a large bar for seating. You definitely get a good sunset here, though unfortunately at least in the spring, there’s a condo or hotel that the sun sets behind. So you don’t see it actually sink below the land, but below the building. Still, it was a beautiful sunset.

Sunset as seen from Lazy Days Restaurant
Sunset as seen from Lazy Days Restaurant

By the time we got around to eating at Lazy Days, we were further into our vacation. I was seafood-ed out! I decided on the chicken piccata, and it was really well done. This is one dish I cook really well, so I tend to be critical of it when I order it out. There was nothing to criticize here. It was superb.

Chicken Piccata at Lazy Days

For dessert, we decided against any more key lime pie. We got some kind of chocolate cake that was a special menu item of the day and I don’t exactly recall what its name was. But it was really good too!

The only reason I deducted a star from my review was because our waitress was so slow. When she did come by, she was polite and friendly. She just didn’t come by very often. And she didn’t appear busy, because several times I saw her just standing near the door to the kitchen and apparently not doing anything. But I would definitely go back to this restaurant again in the future.

Bonus – they also take reservations, according to their website. We just walked in, and it was just three of us, but they sat us right away. The previous evening the couldn’t seat all 5 of us. So I’d say reservations are probably a good idea.

Visit Lazy Days South Website

5. Cracked Conch – 3 Stars

The Cracked Conch Cafe is known for its breakfast. I wish we had done that instead, but we came here for dinner because Burdine’s had too long of a wait. We’d been on the road for 5-6 hours and weren’t in the mood to wait that first night.

We were seated on a small enclosed porch that had a little pond-like feature in the middle with a sign that said “No Diving”. The humor of that caught my attention for sure! When the waiter arrived, he greeted us with a hearty “Good morning” even though it was about 7pm. I guess if you’re known for breakfast, that’s the greeting you use all day, maybe. He was attentive and friendly the whole time.

Shrimp Scampi at Cracked Conch Cafe
Shrimp Scampi at Cracked Conch Cafe

Unfortunately the food was pretty hit-or-miss. They don’t serve breakfast all day – which is fine – so I couldn’t get what had been recommended to me, the eggs benedict. I asked our waiter what was the best thing on the menu, and he suggested the seafood scampi. The menu describes this dish as having scallops, shrimp, fish, conch, and mussels. Sounded good to me! Unfortunately they brought me out a shrimp scampi instead of a seafood scampi. There were plenty of shrimp; I was glad to see that they didn’t skimp on the shrimp. (Ha ha, see what I did there?) But none of the other seafood was anywhere to be seen. It also had TONS of mushrooms in it, and the sauce was really, really bland.

However, the scampi came with two sides, and one that I chose was the conch chowder. This was so good that it almost made up for my getting a different entrée than what I ordered. (But not quite.) It was made just like New England clam chowder, but with conch meat instead of clams. When you’re in the Conch Republic, you obviously have to eat conch, right?! And this was delicious.

My son ordered shrimp quesadillas (are you seeing a trend here?) and he thought they were quite good. My husband ordered a burger – I have no idea why! – and he said it was fine but nothing to brag about. And the girls got chicken fingers. I keep waiting for their taste palettes to develop into maturity, but they still like to order kids’ meals.

Overall this was a nice save to dinner; it sure beat Wendy’s, our only other quick-ish choice. But I definitely can’t rave about it.

Visit Cracked Conch Cafe on Facebook

6. Burdines – Can’t Wait to Try

This was the other must-do on our list, but apparently it’s a must-do on everyone’s list. We tried it the first night and the wait was 90 minutes. We went back another night and couldn’t find parking. They do not take reservations at all. I think eventually my husband and I will try this when we make a trip down without the kids. It’s easier for adults to wait, especially with beverages, and it’s easier for them to seat two people rather than five.

If you get here and find the wait is too long, Castaway is literally right next door.

So there you have it! My experience for five well-known restaurants in Marathon, Florida, smack dab in the middle of the Florida Keys. If you find yourselves looking for some where to eat in Marathon, I hope my reviews will help you to decide.

Also if you’ve tried either, feel free to drop a comment below. I would love to hear your experiences!

United States

The Best U.S. Travel Destinations for New Year’s Eve

Tired of the same old celebrations on New Year’s Eve? Why not consider a destination adventure as a great way to celebrate the arrival of a brand new year. The US has some amazing destinations for singles, couples, families, and groups to get away for a new kind of celebration.

To get the best ideas for places to celebrate NYE, we asked some of our favorite travel bloggers where they love to go for this special holiday. See below to find some great ideas for your next New Year’s trip!

Las Vegas, Nevada

New Year's Eve in Las Vegas

If you are looking for an adventure for New Year’s Las Vegas is the place to be. No matter your age you are sure to find a party that will suit you. Here are some things you might not know about spending New Year’s in Las Vegas.

Vegas is actually a family friendly spot for New Year’s. Lots of resorts offer family friendly celebrations. You can also ring in the New Year watching a fantastic show. And be sure to get a room with a view. If you get in one of the upper level rooms at Mandalay Bay you can watch fireworks shows all over Vegas from the comfort of your room.

You don’t have to spend a ton of money on New Year’s in Vegas. Can’t afford an expensive show? Just go wonder around the Las Vegas strip. The people watching on New Year’s Eve is free entertainment. Want free drinks? Gamble at a slow and steady pace and the free drinks will keep coming to you.

Be sure to check out the scenery just outside of Vegas while you are there. Red Rock Canyon is a beautiful place to get in nature and away from the lights and action of the big city. Or visit the Hoover Dam and the parks surrounding the area. There is no shortage of beautiful places to visit just outside of Vegas.

Be sure to book your room early. Las Vegas is a hot New Year’s destination. The resorts on the Las Vegas strip in the middle of the action get booked up months in advance.

Cyndi Buchanan, Mom Elite

On a Cruise Ship

Spend New Year's Eve on a Cruise Ship

Whether you’re celebrating as a family, a couple or on your own, a cruise ship is one of the best places to celebrate New Year’s Eve. 

Cruise ships pull out all the stops for New Year’s Eve and you can expect a fun-filled formal evening with a five-course gala dinner where the champagne will be flowing. While parents are enjoying a romantic meal, kids can have their own New Year’s Eve party in the kids’ club, ready to join their parents again before midnight. 

New Year cruises are great for solo travellers too – they’re all usually seated together for dinner on a cruise ship, which makes it really easy to mingle with new people. 

But the gala dinner isn’t all that’s on offer – You’ll also have a choice of evening entertainment included in your cruise, with a Broadway-style show, a casino and lots of live music in the various bars and lounges. 

Cruise ships tend to dock in a port for New Year, so head up to the top deck at midnight for the best views of fireworks over the city. At the end of the night, you can make a detour past the buffet for a late-night snack as you stroll back to your cabin.

Some cruises include drinks, which means that you can enjoy cocktails all night without worrying about the bar bill, finding a taxi or clearing up any mess the next day. 

The most popular place to embark on a cruise ship for New Year’s Eve is one of Florida’s cruise ports such as Miami, Port Canaveral or Port Everglades. However, you could also cruise from New York, Galveston, New Orleans, Los Angeles or Portland.

Jenni Fielding, Cruise Mummy

Key West, Florida

New Year's Eve in Key West

If you’re looking for a perfect place to ring in the New Year tropical-style, head to Key West, Florida, the Southernost City in the USA!

Winter temps in the Florida Keys hover in the mid-80’s (F), and the warm ocean currents are perfect for swimming, snorkeling and diving one of the most pristine reefs in the western hemisphere. Key West over the holidays means lots of parties, time spent with friends, and being on the water. So be sure and take a sunset cruise (with Champagne or a side of snorkeling) to fully appreciate the amazing waters.

The holidays are a festive time in the Conch Republic for singles, couples, and adventurous families. There is so much to do, but choosing to simply soak up the sun is just as popular. By day, relax by the pool, nosh on some fresh Florida spiny lobster and key lime pie, then take in a fiery sunset celebration at Mallory Square.

Ringing in the New Year is a Key West tradition and almost always involves a pub crawl along Duval Street and leads to some of the most outrageous countdown celebrations you’ll ever see — a drag queen named Sushi lowered in her champagne shoe at Bourbon Street, a conch shell dropped at Sloppy Joe’s Bar, and a pirate wench lowered from the mast of a tall ship at the Schooner Wharf Bar!

Be sure and make accommodations months ahead of time, and expect to book a minimum 5- night stay, typical for this time of year.

Lori Sorrentino, Travlinmad.com

Honolulu, Hawaii

New Year's Eve in Honolulu

Of all the wonderful places to explore for New Year’s Eve, why not consider Honolulu Hawaii for the holidays. With the best of tropical, fun, entertainment and outdoor activities, Honolulu offers the best of the holidays and celebrating New Year’s Eve.

You can start the evening right with world class cuisine offered at so many award winning international focused dining venues. Followed by fireworks displays offered by the major hotels and even the county of Hawaii or you can easily go to the beach and fire off your own displays for the night. The nightclub scene continues at all the fun venues in Waikiki or you can opt for a lovely walk on the beach with all the magical lights and fireworks display all over the beach areas.

After an active night, you can easily go for a nice brunch again with five star dining or opt for a nice picnic on the beach. Follow this up with outdoor fun like climbing Diamond Head for fabulous views of Waikiki, or how about taking a surfing class on soft sand beaches? A nice afternoon sailing cruise or even sunset cruise would be a wonderful way to cap of the New Year’s Day and there’s even more activity to keep busy exploring the rest of Oahu.

For inspiration, check out all the top things to do in Honolulu here for more fun things to do and see around the island. You’ll have so much to keep you busy during New Year’s and start to a fantastic new year holiday on the island.

Noel Morata, This Hawaii Life

San Diego, California

The Best U.S. Travel Destinations for New Year's Eve

New Year’s Eve in San Diego is simply magical. The fireworks over the San Diego Bay reflect in the water and you get two shows for one.

As a local, I prefer to spend New Year’s Eve in downtown, preferably on a rooftop bar with views of the bay. The best views are from Harbor & Sky Rooftop Bar and Lounge. It almost feels like private show. The bar is actually located in the Residence Inn by Marriott, so if you want to make it really convenient, just book your hotel there as well. This is the perfect spot for a romantic New Year’s Eve celebration or if you want to get together with a couple of friends. 

Another fun way to celebrate New Year’s in San Diego is a fancy Bay Cruise. They include dinner and drinks and while they are a bit pricey, they are definitely worth it.

You’ll get to experience a delicious multi-course dinner, while watching the beautiful San Diego skyline pass by. Then at 12, you can watch the fireworks from a unique angle and toast with your partner and friends to the new year. 

A more budget-friendly option is to have a bon-fire by the beach. This is also a great option if you have kids as they can run around the sand, you can make s’mores and other fun activities with your family and friends while waiting to ring in the new year. 

Whatever you decide to do, San Diego is a fun choice to visit for New Year’s Eve. 

Maria Haase, San Diego Explorer

Boston, Massachusetts

New Year's Eve in Boston

Boston was where the American Revolution started, and there’s nowhere more special to celebrate New Year’s Eve than this city that played a vital role in the history of the USA.

Most years, Boston’s First Night celebrations start at midday, with a concert in Copley Square and the partying continues into the evening with a fabulous display of fireworks at the Boston Common. A yearly tradition for families is to watch the Frog Pond Skating Spectacular, which is a free show.  This coming New Year’s Eve, Boston’s First Night celebration is going to be virtual, and festivities will be broadcast live.

Whether it’s New Year’s Eve or not, there are lots of fun things to do in Boston at night. Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Boston by watching the fireworks light up the sky over the Boston Harbor. For families, the New Year’s Eve’ bowling lane parties’ are perfect and you can book a two-hour part for up to six people that includes a New Year’s Eve toast.

There are lots of parties around town, such as at City Works in Watertown. Brew Year’s Eve is a fun event if you love beer and food, with a pairing menu and an excellent list of unique beer. Another fun way to ring in the New Year in Boston is to go on a bar crawl, but the bars and pubs can get busy, so it’s worth getting a Boston New Year’s Eve Party Pass for guaranteed admission to popular venues.

Christina Pfeiffer, Travel2next.com

Orlando, Florida

New Year's Eve in Orlando

Orlando, Florida is such a special place to spend New Year’s Eve. This city caters to not only kids, families, and those that are kids at heart with the overabundance of amusement parks to celebrate this occasion. The amusement parks and the city of Orlando put on an amazing show. There are so many magical options for families such as enjoying New Year’s Eve at a Disney park.

You could choose from the following Disney parks or resorts: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, Disney’s Boardwalk, and also Disney’s Contemporary Resort. Everyone knows Disney knows how to throw a party. These parks are decorated beautifully, and Disney is famous for its spectacular firework shows and musical celebrations.

There are also special New Year celebrations at the other amusement parks such as Universal Studios, Legoland, and Seaworld. All each have their own individual unique celebration experiences in their parks with fireworks.

The best way to enjoy these celebrations is to get there early to get a good spot especially if you are traveling with kids. The quickest and most convenient transportation option is to take a shuttle service from your hotel to the park. This is the advantage of staying at Disney or Disney partner hotels for this and also hotels associated with Universal Studios, Legoland, and Seaworld.

If you are in the city of Orlando as a solo traveler on New Year’s Eve there are lots of festivities to participate in around International Drive and in the downtown area of Orlando. International Drive known as the nightlife area of Orlando has many bars and restaurants to enjoy the night of festivities. Additionally. there are several adult-themed events parties at clubs, bars, and restaurants in this area.

If you are looking to have a fun unique Orlando experience you can visit downtown Orlando where on Church Street the city drops the “big orange” at midnight making this such a fun way to bring in the New Year. As you can see Orlando offers so many diverse experiences and unique ways to celebrate New Year’s Eve hence making it one of my favorite destinations to welcome in a New Year.

Orlando is centrally located so it’s pretty easy to get to from anywhere in Florida via I-4, the turnpike, the Beachline, or a bus from Jacksonville to Orlando.

Leticia Alleyne, ChicTravelAroundTheWorld.com

Miami, Florida

New Year's Eve in Miami

One of the best places in the United States to celebrate New Year’s is in Miami, Florida.  This southern Florida city is known for its party atmosphere, beautiful people, and gorgeous beaches and when all that is combined over the New Year, it makes for one magical and vibrant celebration.

You will find a variety of activities leading up to the New Year and on the special night itself.  A can’t-miss activity, particularly for those traveling as a family or those not looking for a long night at clubs and bars, is to watch the fireworks in South Beach.  This is held annually and the best seat in the house is at the beach on 9th Street and Ocean Drive.  You will see many others joining in for the show and setting up picnics along the beach.  

An alternative to the fireworks show on South Beach is the Big Orange Ball Drop and Fireworks in downtown Miami.  The best place to watch these is over at Bayfront Park.  You will be greeted with a dance party and fantastic live music as you wait for “The Big Orange” that will go up to the top of the InterContinental Miami.  This is one of the most popular things to do in the city for New Year’s and Pitbull has even hosted it multiple times, giving it nationwide recognition.

And, if you’re looking to ring in the New Year in true Miami style and in a luxurious way, head to Biscayne Bay where you will see a lot of million-dollar yachts lined up to watch the fireworks display.  There are DJs and top-shelf liquor present in your ticket price if you opt for a big night out on the Bay.

Miami is definitely one of the best places to celebrate New Year’s in the US and you will find several things to do regardless of what your NYE party style is. And, after a long night of partying, enjoy the drive from Miami to Key West and relax and soak the new year in!

Megan Starr, Megan & Aram

New York City

New Year's Eve in New York City

New York City and the Ball Drop in Times Square is what New Year’s Eve dreams are made of, when you think if popular destinations to see in the New Year most people would say New York City would be top of their wish list. I know, it was top of mine and I did it in 2017. 

I do have to admit its not all that its cracked up to be, don’t get me wrong the atmosphere is magic and New York City is a good idea anytime of year but there’s a few things you need to know before making NYC your NYE dream. 

It’s very expensive if you want to be in Times Square, firstly if you want the luxury of food and a bathroom you’ll need to book into one of the many highly overpriced functions that operate from Times Square. These are the best places to get the best view. If you go general admission, you need to get there very early in the day, like lunch time and once you’re in you can’t leave.

Also there are never enough bathrooms to service the crowd and you can’t leave to go to an outside bathroom. It’s cold and I mean freezing. Its the middle of winter in NYC and in 2017 it was -12c degrees with a chill factor of -20c degrees. You’ll need to rug up which makes bathroom stops even more challenging. 

Central Park is the perfect spot to see in the New Year, if you follow the crowd you’ll be able to see straight down 5th Ave and watch the Ball Drop in the distance with the fireworks behind you in the park. It really is the perfect spot and the crowd dissipates quickly and you don’t feel crammed in. It has all the atmosphere and you can walk down there from a cozy spot right about 11.30pm just in time to see if all happen. 

Sally Lucas, OUR3KIDSVTHEWORLD

New Orleans, Louisiana

New Year's Eve in New Orleans

New Orleans, Louisiana is by far the best place to spend New Year’s Eve in America. It is the most lively, eclectic happiest place and you can feel the special energy not only during one of its many holidays but just on a regular day.

Local New Orleans people are some of the nicest people you will ever meet and generally care about you seeing and enjoying the real New Orleans – not the tourist side. While Bourbon Street is a fun time (and a great place for New Year’s Eve as well), I would highly recommend going to Frenchman street for midnight. Frenchman is in the Marigny neighborhood and is a lively street lined with live music bars and street dancers. It is one of my favorite places to be at night and you can see the true ambiance and meaning of New Orleans.

New Orleans for New Year’s Eve is not so much suited for families but is better for a group of friends or young adults and couples simply because of the open container policy. Everyone is constantly in the streets and drinking in public and there is a party culture here. I’d also recommend staying in a hotel on Canal Street if you want to be in the center of the action or Uptown if you want to be a little further away in the quiet area (Uber is very popular in NOLA) or if you are a group of people there are a ton of Airbnb’s in the Marigny as well. 

You are sure to get a true New Orleans experience when going during New Years. 

Rachel Shulman, From East to West with RMS

Milwaukee, Wisconsin

New Year's Eve in Milwaukee

Milwaukee is the largest, economic center and main cultural city of the State of Wisconsin. The city looks at its best during New Year’s Eve. Every year, there are various locations around the city celebrating the eve with joy and cheer. What makes New Year’s Eve special in the city are its traditions and a lot of exciting happenings. If you are looking for a family-friendly destination, Milwaukee can satisfy you with the best. Because of the awesome gatherings, fireworks, and big events, the city is perfect for a family visit. However, you will also enjoy your visit alone, with friends or with your partner. 

On the first day of the new year, hundreds of people in Milwaukee participate in the city’s incredible traditions. They strip down in their skivvies and wade into the frigid water of Lake Michigan. You can also go skating at Red Arrow Park where they host fireworks and many more exciting activities. You can do ice skating and concessions with your partner. Apart from skating, you should not miss the New Year’s Eve Celebration at The Domes. There is a lot to cherish about the place. You can enjoy live music from Fox & Branch and folk music, fire dancing and a lot more. The dazzling light shows make your night at Down even more fun. 

There are New Year’s Eve parties happening all around the city and you can walk out of your hotel to feel the vibe of it. Talking about the accommodations, there are some popular Airbnbs in Milwaukee where you can experience a great stay. You can travel to the city easily with public transportation. You can reach there by getting a flight to the General Mitchell International Airport.  

Paulina, Paulina on the Road

United States

6 Ways to Spend a Long Layover Near Philadelphia Airport

With some of the most significant historic places in the world, Philadelphia or “The Birthplace of America” is the one city you need to consider yourself lucky if you have a long layover or delayed flights.

Philadelphia skyline
Philadelphia skyline

If you get “stuck” between connecting flights for more than seven hours, don’t sit around and spend time at the airport. Despite being one of the busiest airports in the country, the Philadelphia International Airport may get a little boring after two hours. Instead, take a taxi or the public train which takes you to the heart of the “City of Brotherly Love” in just half an hour.

Not only is the airport close to the center of things, but the city is also easy to explore on foot. So, drop your suitcases off at secure luggage storage near Philadelphia International Airport and check out these 6 places everyone gets to see on their visit to Philadelphia.

Explore Old City

The Old City in Philadelphia is one of the best spots for tourists and locals alike. If you happen to be there on the first Friday of the month, you’ll be part of the art lovers gang who fill the streets to admire the edgy art scene and hop from one eclectic gallery to another. Walk along the cobblestone streets and snap photos of 18th-century architecture. 

Shop in the fashionable boutiques or dine in some of the great restaurants in town. You will love the neighborhood and the proximity to some of Philly’s best highlights. Walk on Benjamin Franklin Bridge or get some rest with a cup of coffee in one of the large parks. 

If you feel like having ice cream, try some great flavors at Franklin Fountain. They are one of the best in town.

See the Liberty Bell

Liberty Bell
Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell is a significant part of American history. So if you are a history nerd, you are in for a treat. It’s also free to visit, so be sure to check out some of the exhibits inside and outside the building. Luckily, it is within walking distance from the Independence Hall in the Old City. 

Originally called the State House Bell, this historic treasure used to be a signal to call the lawmakers to their meetings and to call the people to hear the news. The ringing of the bell also announced deaths and some more important events like Presidential elections. But it’s also known as the place where the Declaration of Independence was first read in public.

Take a snap of the quote “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof,” inscribed at the top of the large bell.

Go back in time at the Independence Hall

Philadelphia is known as the “Birthplace of America” because it’s the place where the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution were signed. And that happened in the  Independence Hall building.

This historic building is where every tourist goes first, and I suggest you do the same. Before getting there, make sure you buy your tickets well in advance, as it’s a busy site and they run out of tickets fast. Then, walk into the Assembly Room, where Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin signed the Declaration of Independence.

It shouldn’t take you more than an hour to explore the historic civic building, and you will learn a great deal about the Revolutionary period. Once you are done, wander around the Independence National Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Geno's Steaks, Philly Cheesesteak, Philadelphia
Geno’s Steaks, Philly Cheesesteak, Philadelphia

Try some Philly Cheesesteak

You haven’t been to Philadelphia if you haven’t tried the famous Philly cheesesteak. What is so special about them? Well, these delicious sandwiches are made of thinly sliced rib-eye steaks, cooked on a grill, drizzled with melted provolone cheese, and caramelized onions on crusty Italian loaf bread. It’s like heaven in a bun if you are a meat lover!

After you have tried a Philly cheesesteak, you’ll never look at a steak and cheese sandwich the same ever again. Near Passyunk Square are the two most touristy establishments considered the inventors of cheesesteak, Pat’s King of Steaks and Geno’s Steaks. Open 24 hours, 7 days a week, there is no reason why you shouldn’t visit them. 

Even if you are not in the neighborhood, trying these iconic sandwiches is worth the drive.

If you want to get the real taste of a Philly Steak in the Old City, hit up Campos, near the Liberty Bell.

Walk around Midtown Village

Located between the Old City and Independence National Historical Park is the vibrant neighborhood of Midtown Village. This place is in the heart of Center City and has some of the greatest restaurants, hotels, and theatres in town.  

You could find absolutely anything here. It’s also known as the Gayborhood as it’s the hub of LGBT nightlife. However, as it’s right in the middle of everything, this area can get a little loud, so if you want to escape the bustling city life, this is not the place for you. 

Walk further and sit, relax, and people-watch at Dilworth Park. While you are still in the neighborhood, stop by Philadelphia City Hall and admire the majestic building. City Hall is the “world’s largest free standing masonry building and was the world’s tallest habitable building upon its completion in 1894.” The building is the seat of the municipal government of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

See live music performance at Rittenhouse Square

Rittenhouse is another centrally located area that is easy to get to. As one of the safest residential areas, surrounded by luxury housing and everything within walking distance, it’s the most desirable but also the most expensive and exclusive neighborhood in the city.

Sit in one of the many great restaurants for alfresco dining or shop from the many high-end stores. While you are there, take a walk to the famous Rittenhouse Square

Known as the commercial hub of Philly, the square is centered in a gorgeous park.

Sit and people-watch, or have a picnic in this lively historical square. Listen to the sounds of live musicians or check out the farmer’s market on Saturdays.

With so many places to see and things to do in Philadelphia, you’ll be happy to have those long layovers in between your flights. Before you head back to the airport, don’t forget to pick up your luggage.

Travel Photography

How to Take Gorgeous Aerial Travel Videos

Drones have brought major changes to the way people take videos, allowing us to shoot previously impossible scenes, such as aerial and cliff shots. In fact, aerial drone videos have been playing a big part in destination marketing in recent years to help boost tourism. And not all these videos are created by organizations — in fact, some are user-generated content made by tourists themselves.

Aerial Travel Videos

So if you’re among those who want to try their hand at capturing aerial travel videos, below are a few tips to help you get that beautiful footage!

Have the right equipment

Aerial videography calls for specialized equipment, or more specifically a drone camera. The best drone cameras for videography are those 50MP ones — or at least close to that number — which are best suited for aerial maps and topography. But the actual model that you should get varies depending on what you need.

For instance, the Swellpro GC3-S Waterproof 3-Axis Gimbal for the SplashDrone 4 is a great option for low-light video recording since it has night vision. It’s also waterproof, so it can be operated during light showers and near bodies of water. For a more professional option, you can go for the DJI Zenmuse X5S for the DJI Inspire 2. This camera can record videos with a maximum resolution of 5.2K of up to 30FPS.

Learn basic drone videography

After you’ve bought your camera, you should next learn how to fly a drone smoothly to reduce jerky movements, which will negatively affect the quality of your footage. When you’re used to your drone’s controls, you can start practicing various shots, such as the famous “reveal.”

YouTube: 4K Drone Footage – Fall Colors of Mountain Home Road, Leavenworth, WA State – 3 Hour Drone Film

As the name implies, this shot slowly shows your landscape subject. For example, if you want to shoot the view below from the hill or mountain you’re on, you can begin your footage from a spot on the ground where that view can’t be seen and then slowly maneuver your drone higher to reveal it. Mastering even basic drone videography can already result in footage similar to those you see in travel videos.

Use intelligent flight modes

Intelligent flight modes are drone features that leverage AI to help its user make creative shots. Some might think of it as cheating, but using these ensures that you get your footage as smoothly as possible. The dronie mode, for instance, is a mode to use if you want yourself in the shot — similar to a smartphone selfie. It’s done by starting with the camera facing you in front of you. Then the drone keeps you centered as it pulls back and reveals the scene around you.

YouTube: Greatest Drone Selfie Ever! 50+ Countries in 4 Years – in 4K

Meanwhile, cinematic mode slows down the drone’s base speed, allowing it to capture vast and scenic locations like mountains and forests. Other modes drones offer included but are not limited to: gesture mode, tapfly mode, and tripod mode.

An important note on aerial travel videos…

Drones can give you footage of breathtaking views. However, using them in no-fly zones can cost you thousands of dollars. To prevent that from happening, always research the drone regulations of your destination. In Florida, for instance, most airspaces don’t allow drones to be flown more than 400ft above the ground. Or in Italy, drones aren’t allowed to pass over crowds, concerts, and sporting events. They’re not allowed to fly at night either.

Getting that beautiful aerial footage may take some work, but some practice with the right equipment can get you videos you can be proud of. Other than drones, a DSLR camera for ground shots can also allow you to take videos of your destinations at foot-level. This will allow you to collect a bunch of footage from every angle, adding to the number of captured memories you can take with you when you get back.

Asia

Important Things to Consider Before Moving to Singapore

If you’re looking for an exciting change in scenery, a great option for moving abroad is Singapore. Its dual world main city makes it attractive to expats looking for the holiday feeling everyday while still fulfilling practicalities like jobs and accommodation. Singapore stokes a variety of jobs with its business-minded environment and appreciation for information technology, while also dripping in its Asian heritage in its architecture and culture.

But before you go looking for the passport, there are some things you should think about, if you’re considering moving to Singapore.

Moving to Singapore

Singapore’s Cost of Living

It should be considered that the cost of living in Singapore makes for an expensive experience. The small country has put a lot of money into its public services, including a great appreciation for public transport. This means that buying a car is not cheap. A new hatch back model will be far more expensive than the prices you would expect to see in Europe and on top of it, once you have a car, you will be hit with an additional payment to the government for a Certificate of Entitlement. This can cost almost as much as the car.

Singapore’s highly educated population also comes at a price. Expats in Singapore usually send their children to international school, due to Singapore having one of the most expensive education systems in the world, which drives up monthly spending.

How You’ll Live when Moving to Singapore

Expats living in Singapore are generally advised to rent a place before they buy. Being a tale of two cities, Singapore has a beautiful skyline of skyscraper buildings full of apartments, as well as traditional ornate houses holding all their Asian heritage scattered across the city. The main perk of apartment living is that most are serviced, with payment included in your monthly rent and an array of facilities like gyms and swimming pools.

Luxury Singapore Housing

Property prices can be steep in Singapore, but if you have the means, you can skip the recommended temporary lease and take a look online for a Singapore housing loan. If you get yourself a lease, you can island hop and browse home options while you work. And that is another aspect to think of.

Don’t expect to reach Singapore on a travelling visa and find a job once you’re in the country. You will be advised that it is mandatory to get a job in the country before you move. Singaporeans impressive school system makes for a fiercely competitive population of qualified employees, so forethought will be needed. But it’s not hopeless. Those who are highly educated or have strong work experience have a good shot and are welcomed.

A significant portion of jobs available in Singapore are in banking and finance, so expect to network a lot. Rather than scanning the newspaper for ads, jobs are generally found through who you know, so work on your language skills. Singapore also has an interest in information technology so there are opportunities in IT, electric industries, and shipping.

However, if you plan to take a partner, they will need their own employment pass and cannot piggyback off of yours.

The Culture in Singapore

There is a lot to love about Singapore. It is a tiny country with a culture made up of the influences around it and a healthy respect for the past and future, technology and nature.

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
Gardens by the Bay

Lucky for those who struggle with a new language, English is in fact the official language of business in Singapore. This will allow you to get around without the struggle of miming out what you’re looking for. However, there is a unique local language called Singlish, and it is a result of more than 150 years of a diverse culture made up of Mandarin, Hokkien, Malay and Tamil speakers influence on the spoken English in Singapore. Must like everything else in Singapore, it is a charming hybrid of East and West, but there is a dictionary listing terms and correct usages, just in case you don’t pick it up quick enough by being there.

Being just a quick hop away from a variety of countries, Singapore has a diverse population, which means, a large variety of delicious food. The islands have three major types of local cuisine: Malay, Chinese and Indian, all of which are famously adored in the western world.

Try a bowl of curried noodles called Laska, Hainanese chicken rice or chili crabs which is hard-shell crabs cooked in gravy with a tomato and chili base. If you want to really try something new you can go for a barbecued stingray or an oyster omelet.

With this quick hop to other countries, and Singapore’s tiny landmass, long weekend trips are common. Visit the Gardens By the Bay to enjoy 250 acres of tropical plants or the Esplanade: Singapore’s answer to the Sydney Opera House. Beyond the city is various natural attractions that will take your breath away.

So if you want to live abroad, hopefully this has given you a good overview of what moving to Singapore involves!

Beaches of the World United States

Best Beach Destinations for Families

A beach vacation is the quintessential summer trip for individuals, couples, and families. When we think of summer, many of us picture various beach destinations. What could be better than sitting in the sand, soaking up rays, and enjoying a good book, a frisbee toss, or hunting for seashells?

Best Beach Destinations for Families

Or maybe you’re more adventurous and enjoy surfing, surf fishing, and other sports. Whatever your lifestyle, a trip to the beach can be just the thing to break the monotony of every day life.

If you have young children or teenagers, or if you’re vacationing as part of an extended family that has multiple interests, you may be wondering where the best beach destinations are. We’ve compiled a list of beach destinations that are perfect for families, no matter what your ages or preferences may be.

Cocoa Beach, Florida

Cocoa Beach, Florida

If you’re a fan of this website, you probably know that Cocoa Beach is almost like home for us. But that makes it no less special. Cocoa Beach is special because the beach itself is beautiful and easy to access, but there are also plenty of non-beach activities for families as well.

If you’re looking for a beach with flat, hard-packed white sand, Cocoa Beach is perfect. It’s very common to see people jogging or bicycling on the packed sand. It is also known for its surfing, having been the hometown for world champion Kelly Slater. If you venture out onto the Cocoa Beach Pier, you can get a great look at the surfers from a higher viewpoint. Or sign up for a surf lesson yourself!

We have an entire post on Cocoa Beach, so click below for more information.

Sanibel Island, Florida

Sanibel Island, Florida

Sanibel Island is a beautiful beach destination off the southwest coast of Florida. To get there, you drive across a toll causeway bridge from Fort Myers. Sanibel is known as the #1 destination in the United States to find seashells. In fact, the posture of people walking along the beach, bent over and looking for shells, is commonly known as the “Sanibel stoop”.

If you like finding lots of shells, or a wide variety of species, then the beaches of Sanibel Island are perfect for your vacation. Bowman’s Beach is probably the best known spot for shelling.

The Bailey-Matthews National Seashell Museum is really interesting, even for older children. You may also enjoy seeing the lighthouse and driving through the Ding Darling nature preserve (be sure to wear bug spray). There are some delicious local eateries for when you get hungry, and a variety of accommodations for groups of different sizes.

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

Myrtle Beach, South Carolina

I grew up in South Carolina and Myrtle Beach was the place to go every summer. In more recent years, it’s become a go-to beach destination for people from across the country and around the world.

Myrtle Beach has so much to do. Golf is one of the biggest pastimes enjoyed by both locals and tourists. If you like to golf, you’ll find a ton of golf courses to enjoy. Family members of many ages will enjoy the theme parks and water parks, and there are many other attractions as well, such as WonderWorks and Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. If you like concerts, then the Carolina Opry is a must-do. Nature loves and gardeners will appreciate Brookgreen Gardens.

Outer Banks, North Carolina

Outer Banks, North Carolina

The Outer Banks is a series of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina. Historically it’s been best known for the various lighthouses, many of which are open to visitors. At the north end of the chain is Corolla, which is a bit less commercial than other spots. You’ll still find plenty to do, but it’s unique because of the wild horses that live there and actually roam on the beach.

If you’re a history buff, check out the Lost Colony play on Roanoke Island between the mainland and the Outer Banks islands. Also check out the Elizabethan Gardens while you’re there.

Within the Outer Banks themselves, nature lovers will enjoy the Alligator River National Wildlife Refuge. You can also book a fishing charter, take a dolphin cruise, play a round of golf, or go horseback riding. The beaches offer plenty of opportunities to fish, surf, tan, or just hang out. Be sure to take some time to visit or view the lighthouses and the Wright Brothers monument, as this is the location of the first human flights ever!

Virginia Beach, Virginia

Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach is in the southern portion of the state, right at the location where the Chesapeake Bay meets the Atlantic Ocean. Historically, it’s the place where the Jamestown colonists landed, and you can visit the First Landing State Park which commemorates the event. Visitors also love the three-mile boardwalk that makes strolling easy and allows for beautiful views of the ocean.

Foodies will love the variety of restaurants as well as the fresh seafood market. If you’re a fan of lighthouses, you’ll enjoy visiting the Cape Henry Lighthouse and (maybe!) climbing the 191 steps to the top. Kids will love attractions such as the Aviation Museum, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center with its zip line, boat trips, and animal exhibits. Or just spend time in the beautiful outdoors, on the beach or bicycling around to check out the sights.

Ocean City, Maryland

Ocean City, Maryland

Ocean City, Maryland, has a long history of being a resort town and beach destination for families and tourists of all ages. It’s separated from the mainland by the Isle of Wight Bay. The land on which it is located is known as the Delmarva peninsula – “Delmarva” being made up of parts of the state names Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia.

Ocean City has a long boardwalk with lots of dining options and nightlife as well. There are plenty of hotels along the boardwalk that offer a great stay if you like to be right in the middle of it all.

One of the most famous non-beach attractions is Trimper’s Rides, located at the south end of the beach. Trimper’s dates all the way back to 1893 and is known for its vintage amusement park rides. It also has two roller coasters, a Ferris wheel, and a huge carousel built in 1912. There’s also a second amusement park called Jolly Roger’s, so if your family is one for rides, this beach town is definitely the one for you!

Assateague Island is a short boat-ride away. Famous for its wild horses, it also has beautiful beaches and the Assateague Lighthouse. Parts of the island are a wildlife refuge, and it’s a great place to see birds and other animals, in addition to the horses of course.

If you like to camp, definitely check out Frontier Town. It has unique camping options as well as a water park, treetop ropes course, and a Western theme park.

Cape May, New Jersey

Cape May, New Jersey

Cape May is the quintessential seaside resort town on the Jersey shore. It’s located on the southern end of the state on a peninsula between the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Many activities center around the water, whether you want to rent a boat or have a more relaxing boat tour where someone else does the work. Fishing is a big attraction here.

If land is more your style, rent a bicycle and explore the town. Kid-friendly spots include the Fireman’s Museum, the Zoo, and the Cape May Lighthouse. Teens may enjoy parasailing or spending the day on a wave runner. If adventure is your style. take a ride in a plane to see the area from a birds’ eye view!

The beach is very popular of course, and the Promenade runs along it for about two miles. You’ll find family-friendly businesses along the promenade, including a candy shop for when you’ve been out in the sun and need a pick me up.

For a unique souvenir visit Sunset Beach and look for your own “Cape May diamond”. These are small quartz pebbles that have been smoothed over time by the local waters.

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach, Oregon, has been listed by National Geographic as one of the world’s 100 most beautiful places. In case that’s not enough of a reason, Cannon Beach also has great accommodations, dining, and activities. So whether you plan to spend more time on the miles of beaches overlooking unique rock formations, or in town doing non-beach related activities, then there’s plenty of options!

For natural sights, you can’t beat Haystack Rock, just off the main beach. You might recognize it from the movie The Goonies. At low tide, you can actually walk to it. During the summer months, you can see tufted puffins (a unique bird sometimes mistaken for a penguin) – they use Haystack Rock for nesting. If large mammals are more your type, make sure to look out for Elk around town or at Ecola State Park!

Arcadia Beach and Ecola State Park are great recreation areas, but you really want to check out Hug Point. It’s just a few miles south and, at low tide, you can explore areas you can’t see otherwise. These include small caves and waterfalls, as well as tide pools. You can even walk along the old stagecoach road, which was how settlers traveled along the beach in the old days. (This activity might not be the best for families with very young children, however.)

In the town you’ll find the Cannon Beach museum, a toy store, the Chocolate Cafe, and other retailers that appeal to children and adults alike. There’s plenty more places to shop, too, so if you’re children are patient you’ll find more for your own enjoyment than just these! There are also wineries and breweries for adult enjoyment as well.

Monterey, California

Monterey, California, has so much to offer that it’s hard to know where to start. The weather is beautiful and the locals are friendly, and just a walk around town is something to enjoy. But there are plenty of other things to see and do! The Monterey Bay Aquarium is incredibly popular, with beautiful and educational exhibits highlighting marine life on the US west coast. My favorite is the kelp forest display, where you can truly imagine yourself as a living organism among the giant kelp that grow off the California coast.

The Point Sur lighthouse is a fun place to visit, and they sometimes host ghost tours in the evenings. During the winter and spring, you may even spot migrating whales! If you want to be more certain, however, book a whale-watching tour and see them from a boat.

Small children may enjoy the Dennis the Menace park playground and the nearby children’s museum called My Museum. Cannery Row is the shopping and entertainment area, where you’ll find delicious seafood, and kid-friendly activities like putt-putt and a wax museum. The beach itself is a short walk from Cannery Row, and when the weather is right, it’s gorgeous. Make sure to also take a drive down 17-Mile Drive and see the famous Lone Cypress tree.

Coronado, California

Coronado, California

Want to see a beach with the prettiest sand in the world? Check out Coronado Beach in California, near San Diego. It has beautiful sparkling sand, thanks to small pieces of mica within the sand itself. The beach is one of the prettiest around, and with its mild waves, makes for a perfect place for even young children to splash around when the weather is warm enough. At low tide, your family can explore the tide pools and discover the unique sea life that calls these pools home.

Beside the beach is the historic Hotel del Coronado. If you choose to stay there, you’ll have access to their cabanas and lounge chairs on the beach. If you stay elsewhere, the hotel is still worth a visit, and you might even consider one of their walking tours. Or take a quarter-mile walk south along the beach at low tide until you can see the sunken ship, the SS Monte Carlo, that floundered way back in 1937.

Downtown Coronado features lots of eateries and shops. Favorites for families include Moo Time Creamery for ice cream and the Coronado Cupcakery for cupcakes. Not hungry? Try Geppetto’s Toys. Bring or rent bikes if you really want to explore more of the downtown area.

Corpus Christi, Texas

Corpus Christi, Texas

Corpus Christi is an excellent choice for a family vacation if you’re looking for a wide variety of activities to do. There are pristine beaches, including the Padre Island National Seashore. Because the area is protected by barrier islands, the surf is gentle enough for even small children (supervised of course!) You can also take advantage of watersports like windsurfing when conditions are right.

Outside of the beach, if you have smaller children, be sure to check out the Corpus Christi Museum of Science and History, with exhibits on history and science. You and your tots will have a great time and learn a lot about local history and ecology. Water park fans will love the Hurricane Alley Waterpark, with water slides, a lazy river, and a surf simulator. There’s also the Kids’ Cove for younger guests, and the Riptide Hideaway Bar if mom or dad wants adult refreshment.

Almost everyone will have fun at the Texas State Aquarium, with exhibits showing marine life as well as special encounters such as a sloth meet-and-greet or a fish feeding. (Extra charges apply; check the website for more details.) If military history is more your style, be sure to visit USS Lexington Museum on the Bay, a World War II aircraft carrier that is now a museum.

Maui, Hawaii

Maui, Hawaii

Maui, Hawaii sure would be a special vacation for families, right? Not to mention just getting to say you’ve been to Hawaii! There are lots of fun activities for families, such as snorkeling, surfing lessons, or parasailing. Of course, while in Hawaii, you must try a luau and experience the music, dance, and food of Hawaii.

Other unique activities include touring the Atlantis Submarine, and yes it’s actually underwater!

Or you can be a mermaid (or merman) for a day with Hawaii Mermaid Adventures. In addition to learning to swim with a tail, they’ll also share with you information on being ecologically responsible with our planet’s oceans.

We hope this article has given you some ideas for your next vacation. Did we miss your favorite beach? If so, drop a note in the comments. Maybe you’ll interest us in trying some place new, too!

Multiple Destinations

26 Greatest Cities To Inspire Your Bucket List

With so much time being stuck in this quarantine, I have realized how many destinations in the world I yearn to visit. Every single city has so many unique attributes, along with a captivating history, making each one seeming just as memorable as the last. So, without further ado, here are the cities at the top of my bucket list, places I personally would kill to visit!

Vienna, Austria

Hofburg, Vienna, Austria
Hofburg, Vienna, Austria

Vienna, the imperial capital of Austria, has always been towards the top of my bucket list. The first time I heard about this beautiful city was through a Billy Joel song, and ever since I have been fascinated by the architecture and the city’s rich history. Among some of the famous architecture there are the Hofburg, the Schönbrunn Palace, and St. Stephen’s Cathedral, which are just some of the buildings that are a sight for sore eyes. With their countless amounts of cafés and taverns as well, Vienna seems like such an enchanting destination.

Rome, Italy

The Colosseum, Rome, Italy
The Colosseum, Rome, Italy

Honestly, when I think of the perfect vacation, I imagine myself taking a stroll throughout this wonderful city. With the fascinating history, Rome has to be one of my favorite cities on the planet. Being one of the top attractions I would ever want to visit, the Colosseum, as well of other things like the Roman Forum, which consist of ruins of popular buildings throughout Rome’s history.

Paris, France

Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France
Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France

Let us be real here; if Paris, the capital of France, is not on your bucket list, what are you doing? Ever since I was little, I have dreamt of visiting. I cannot even begin to list the attractions I would visit because the list would go on and on. From both the Eiffel tower and Notre-Dame, to the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre Museum (which houses the Mona Lisa and many other beautiful works), it is obvious why someone would want to visit this city of love and lights.

Florence, Italy

Florence, Italy and the Ponte Vecchio
Florence, Italy and the Ponte Vecchio

Holding some of the most beautiful works of art from the Renaissance, it is not hard to see why Florence is on the top of my bucket list. Among some of the must-see attractions throughout the city, there are the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Uffizi Gallery, the Ponte Vecchio, and an abundance more. The colorful and phenomenal architecture all throughout the city can make this destination one to remember!

Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy
Venice, Italy

If you could not tell already, I have a slight obsession with Italy. This city, consisting of no roads and only canals, and 118 islands that are connected by hundreds of bridges, seems like such an exciting place. Whether you are going out on a boat ride on the Grand Canal or going to visit marvelous wonders such as the St. Mark’s Basilica, it always seems like there is something fun and interesting to do. With around 20 million tourists every year, Venice seems like the go-to destination for many.

New York City, New York

New York City Skyline
New York City Skyline

New York City seems like a never-ending adventure with so many things to do. From visiting Time Square, Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, and more, to getting to watch a live Broadway show, it seems like you will never be able to do it all in one vacation. And on that topic, New York consists of 5 boroughs which are Manhattan, The Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, which really just gives you a variety of things to do if you ever end up going.

Pisa, Italy

Leaning Tower of Pisa
Leaning Tower of Pisa

I think it is obvious as to why I want to visit this city since it houses the Leaning Tower of Pisa, one of the world’s most famous landmarks. Besides this landmark, there is a variety of other things so see, such as The Roman Catholic Baptistery of St. John, which was built in 1152, and the Cattedrale di Pisa in the Piazza dei Miracoli.

Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece
Santorini, Greece

After all the Instagram influencer’s posts and movies scenes that were filmed here, I always seem to be jealous of anyone who gets to visit this beautiful island. The architecture of this island is absolutely stunning, in a way I can not explain. Instead of a traditional brick building, Santorini’s architecture is classified as Cycladic architecture, which is defined by the white buildings, blue domed churches and more, which are all breathtaking.

Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

Phi Phi Islands, Thailand
Phi Phi Islands, Thailand

These islands are also a popular picture-perfect destination I am constantly seeing all over Instagram or travel websites, although, it is not hard to see why. The Phi Phi Islands are a group of multiple tropical islands featuring beautiful beaches and crystal-clear water, which make it the perfect summer vacation destination. These islands offer many enjoyable activities such as snorkeling, kayaking, and boating around them.

Agra, India

Taj Mahal, Agra, India
Taj Mahal, Agra, India

A bucket list without Agra, which is a city in Northern India best known for the Taj Mahal, would not be complete. Obviously, this marvelous architecture is one of the big reasons I would visit. The Taj Mahal is a mausoleum, with the tombs of Shah Jahan, emperor of the Mughal empire, and his wife Mumtaz Mahal. This mausoleum, which is built of white marble, is one of the top attractions in the whole world.

Istanbul, Turkey

Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey
Hagia Sophia, Istanbul, Turkey

Whenever I see a photo of Istanbul, my attention is always automatically drawn towards one thing: the colorful architecture. While I think this is one of the main reasons this capital stands out against so many of places, Istanbul still has many attractions throughout the city to see. Whether you decide to visit the Hagia Sophia, which was built during the Byzantine Empire, or take a tour the Blue Mosque, where you can learn about the history of the city when it was a part of the Ottoman Empire, there are countless reasons why this astounding city is on this list.

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

I have to admit that while it would be fun to catch Carnival, which has extravagant parade floats and attracts around 2 million people to the city’s streets, there are also many other things I want to do if I ever visit Rio De Janeiro. Activities such as taking the cableway to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, and seeing popular landmarks such as the Christ the Redeemer statue that stands at 38 meters tall, make visiting Rio seem like a memorable destination.

Bruges, Belgium

A Canal in Bruges, Belgium
A Canal in Bruges, Belgium

To say I have fallen in love with this entire city would be an understatement. I can not even begin to explain how homey this city makes me feel. With many canals and cobblestone streets everywhere, I am sure you can see why. With many cute activities to do, such as visiting the Market Place, which is in the center of the town, and going to see the ‘Church of Our Lady’ brick tower which has the world-renowned ‘Madonna and Child’ art collection by Michelangelo, Bruges seems like such a welcoming and exciting city.

Cusco, Peru

Saqsaywaman near Cusco, Peru
Saqsaywaman near Cusco, Peru

Cusco, which was formally known as the capital of the Inca Empire, is a great place to visit to dive deep into history. The entire city is built on the remains of the former empire, giving you a bigger appreciation for the city. I recently learned about the Plaza de Armas, which is the central square and most definitely a place I would be visiting a lot, being that it is filled with arcades, restaurants, and cafés, and even a cathedral. Other places, like both the Sacred Valley and Saqsaywaman, are also historic places from the Incan Empire.

Barcelona, Spain

Sagrada Família, Barcelona, Spain
Sagrada Família, Barcelona, Spain

Now, if I am lucky enough, I’d probably be traveling to Barcelona to catch a game of their world-renowned soccer team, and personally one of my favorite teams, which has players such as Lionel Messi and Luis Suárez (whom I am sure you’ve heard of). Besides their sports teams, Barcelona has many stunning landmarks, such as the Sagrada Família, a Roman Catholic basilica that is not yet finished, which make it such an exciting city to visit.

Madrid, Spain

Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain
Plaza Mayor, Madrid, Spain

Being the capital of Spain, Madrid is definitely a big city for tourism. Ever since I was in Spanish class and learned about the Plaza Mayor, which is one of the city’s most popular places to visit, Madrid has seemed like such an intriguing city to visit, one that is rich in unique and important history and stunning landmarks. If you want more details, check out this amazing guide for visiting Madrid in one single day.

Stockholm, Sweden

Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden

Stockholm, which is the capital of Sweden, is made up of various islands, including the mainland, connected by many bridges. The first stop would be to visit Gamla Stan which consists of cafés, boutiques, and restaurants. From what I have heard your Stockholm experience is not complete without this must-see attraction. Additionally, some other top attractions include the Vasa Maritime Museum, which holds the Vasa battleship, or the Royal Palace, which has a vast amount of Stockholm history.

Tokyo, Japan

Sensoji Shrine, Tokyo, Japan
Sensoji Shrine, Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo, which is one of the biggest tourist destinations, is popular for things such as Anime, their food, and more, not to mention the beautiful Japanese culture and history. I have numerous friends that have visited Tokyo and only have great things to say! Whether you are going to watch a Kabuki Theater Show, or visiting oldest shrine in the city named the Sensoji Shrine, where many come people come to practice their religions, Tokyo has such a fascinating history and culture.

Chefchaouen, Morocco

Chefchaouen, Morocco
Chefchaouen, Morocco

With some of the most unique architecture ever, Chefchaouen stands out immensely compared to any other city in the world, and if you have seen it before you know what I am talking about. Majority of the buildings throughout the city are, for a lack of better words, just completely blue, making this city wholeheartedly unforgettable.

London, England

London, England
London, England

London, which happens to be the capital of England (if you did not know already), is one of the top tourist destinations in the world. The city, which has a long history dating back many centuries, has so many activities for anyone for who visits. From the iconic Big Ben clock tower to the or the Tower of London, Parliament to medieval castles, you could spend years seeing all the historical sights.

Vatican City

St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Italy
St. Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City, Italy

Vatican City would have to be one of my top go-to destinations because there is just so much for one to see. By this I am referring to attractions such as the Vatican Museums, which house hundreds of pieces of art and sculptures and includes the Sistine Chapel, which, if you did not learn in history class, was painted by Michelangelo. I have to admit that if I ever were to visit the Sistine Chapel, I would probably just start tearing up out of amazement. Another popular attraction is St. Peter’s Basilica, a magnificent church reconstructed during the Renaissance. Vatican City is rich with some of my favorite history ever, and I would be missing out if I never visited!

Budapest, Hungary

Parliament, Budapest, Hungary
Parliament, Budapest, Hungary

From what I have heard, many people believe that Budapest is Europe’s hidden gem, which so many stunning sights you will never be able to forget! Budapest is split into 2 parts with the Danube River running through the city. Many of the city’s top destinations actually lie on the river, such as the Buda Castle, which used to be a royal palace but is now made up of both a gallery, which has may Hungarian art-works, as well as the Budapest History Museum and the National Szechenyi Library. Another must-see place that lies on the Danube River is the enormous Hungarian Parliament building, which is seen in majority of the photos of Budapest on the internet. With only good things to say about their visit, it is easy to understand why so many tourists visit this priceless Hungarian capital.

Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Amsterdam, the Netherlands’ capital, is yet another city that runs on a canal system, with many running throughout the city. Based off of what I have learned, Amsterdam gives me “cute, quaint town” and “let’s stop by the coffee shop” vibes, if that makes any sense. With many things to do, such as visiting the Van Gogh Museum, which holds the largest number of Van Gogh paintings ever, along with the Anne Frank house, which is where the young Anne Frank hid from Nazi Germany, Amsterdam seems like such a lovely city, with rich history for anyone to learn.

Petra, Jordan

Petra, Jordan
Petra, Jordan

The first time I was introduced to this city was because it popped up on my Windows lock screen (No, I am not joking). Petra is a historical archeological city in the south of Jordan that dates all the back to around 300 B.C. This mysterious “Lost City” which contains the ruins of the Nabatean Kingdom and is considered one of the 7 wonders (not natural). The architecture, such as the temples or tombs, is solely carved into the cliffs around the city, making it, personally, one of the most fascinating destinations on this list.

Sydney, Australia

Opera House and Harbour Bridge, Sydney, Australia
Opera House and Harbour Bridge, Sydney, Australia

From the moment Marlin, from the Disney classic Pixar’s ‘Finding Nemo’, arrives at Sydney, you automatically get a glimpse of the Sydney Opera House, one of the most popular landmarks from the city. Now, while I am not a big fan of opera, I would still love to visit Sydney for many reasons. Besides taking a trip to the opera, you can also visit the Sydney Harbour Bridge, the Queen Victoria Building, Darling Harbour, and more!

Versailles, France

Versailles, France
Versailles, France

No, just because this city is on the bottom of the list does not mean that it is my least favorite out of the others, and it is crystal clear as to why. The Palace of Versailles has to be one of the TOP tourist attractions I would ever want to visit. The history that encompasses the palace is truly remarkable, and the palace itself is visually breathtaking.

If I have to be honest, narrowing down every place I ever want to visit to a short list was one of the most difficult things I have done in a while. Even now I know that I have left off so many priceless, amazing cities, leaving you wondering why they are not on this list. Even so, I hope you agreed with this list for the most part, and even maybe learned about a new exiting destination!

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