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Imagine you win an all-expenses-paid trip to anywhere in the world–one of your dream vacation spots. Where would you go? Would you catch a Broadway show in the Big Apple? Perhaps see the pyramids along the Nile like the old song says? Dreaming and adding destinations to your “someday” file is fun.
Have you considered some of the hotspots below? They may not be the most conventional destinations, but they deserve a place on every traveler’s must-see itinerary. Consider exploring these nine dream vacation spots to add to your bucket list.
1. New Zealand
If you need a change, why not head to where winter is summer and the mindset entirely different? It’s been quite some time since this island nation opened its doors, having done a splendid job of handling the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the borders officially reopen on July 22, 2022 — so get your passport ready for its next stamp.
If you’re a fantasy fan, there’s no substitute for seeing the real backdrop for the fictional Middle Earth in the Peter Jackson films. Take a hobbit’s journey through New Zealand as you follow Frodo and Sam’s adventures through Tongariro National Park. You can even kick back and enjoy a pint at the legendary Green Dragon.
2. Kenya and Tanzania
What if, like Samwise Gamgee, you’ve always wanted to see an “oliphant” or elephant? To enjoy these majestic creatures in their natural habitat, head to the African nations of Kenya and Tanzania. Those aren’t the only creatures you’ll witness. If you were a fan of the Discovery documentary “Serengeti,” you’ll get to experience lions, giraffes, wildebeests — all the fascinating animals featured in the series.
When in Tanzania, ensure you tour Olduvai Gorge. You’ll see where Mary and Louis Leakey discovered the remains of humankind’s earliest ancestors. Spend hours exploring the museum and learning about human evolution.
This dream vacation spot appears on countless bucket lists for some very good reasons. Where else can you enjoy a stroll along a black-sand beach? You’ll find multiple locations, some featuring endangered turtles that you can watch — but please do not touch. The unique sand color comes from volcanic materials such as lava and basalt rocks.
You can’t visit this island retreat without participating in an authentic luau. It’s so much more than a big feast. You’ll witness vibrant cultural celebrations, including drumming and hula dancing. Get your grass skirt ready to shake those hips.
4. Western Colorado
Maybe a tropical hotspot isn’t in your future. If you love skiing, you must explore Western Colorado’s many havens. Aspen immediately springs to mind, but Telluride, Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs and Vail also offer unparalleled beauty — and some of the toughest slopes you’ll find anywhere.
After a day on the slopes, relax apres ski with a hot mug of cocoa by the lodge’s fireplace. The slopes aren’t the only offerings. Strolling through many western Colorado towns is like stepping back in time to the old west. Of course, the state is known for cannabis tourism, so consider a pit stop in Denver for a tour if you’re curious.
5. London, England
This bustling city is one of the dream vacation spots for many people. There’s so much to do and see in London that you could spend a month and still feel like you missed something. You can visit the purported site of Mrs. Lovett’s pie shop of “Sweeney Todd” fame or tour the infamous tower of London if you have a taste for the grisly and ghostly. Folks of a jollier persuasion can participate in an authentic pub crawl — but beware. The pints across the pond are considerably stronger than most American brews.
Of course, there are the classic offerings you can’t miss. Witness the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace and see Big Ben in all its majesty. When it tolls 3 p.m., stop in one of many cafes for a proper English tea.
6. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Maybe you like to party. Are you seeking a festival that’s huge? One that dwarfs even New Orleans come Mardi Gras? If so, head south to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to participate in Carnival, the world’s largest celebration with over two million visitors in attendance on average.
That’s not all there is to do and see here. You can enjoy some of the best barbecues you’ve ever tasted, served Brazilian style. If you feel like you need to do a little penance after all that partying, meditate or pray at the Christ the Redeemer statue. Daring souls can even climb to the arms — the next-best earthbound thing to being embraced by the savior.
7. Northern Arizona
Folks from coastal areas can feel like they’ve landed on the surface of Mars when they tour many northern Arizona locations. This land is rich in Native American heritage — ensure you stop for some authentic fry bread. It’s far more delicious than your typical loaf.
The splendor of the Grand Canyon draws countless visitors each year. The South Rim sees the most traffic. The West Rim features the Skywalk, and the North Rim is remote and isolated, requiring reservations as much as a year in advance. However, this giant hole isn’t the only site to see. Tour the ancient ruins at Walnut Canyon and Montezuma’s Castle. Stop by the tiny desert town of Sedona for jaw-dropping red rock views and meditate in a spiritual vortex.
8. New England in Fall
If nature’s beauty is your siren song, you can’t find many spots prettier than New England in the fall. Plus, you’ll enjoy some of the world’s tastiest seafood at rock-bottom prices. Have your camera ready to capture the spectacular foliage.
You have ample places to stay and stop. Historic Salem, MA, is a must-see. Learn about what people can do to each other in times of hysteria and give thanks for modern science. Strolling Boston’s cobblestone streets is a treat once you get your nature fix. Of course, fall in New England means baseball — good luck to you if you can catch a game.
9. Tokyo, Japan
For a taste of a totally different way of life, head to Tokyo, Japan. This cultural mecca offers endless things to see. Hungry travelers can get their fix at one of the city’s best ramen restaurants — it’s a completely new experience if you typically eat the packaged stuff.
Gaze at the city and take spectacular photographs at Tokyo Tower, or catch a morning sumo wrestling practice — these athletes are a sight to behold. Feeling spooky? Head to Aokigahara, Japan’s famous suicide forest and backdrop of several scary movies, for a tour. Japan also has some of the most inventive and whimsical museums in the world.
Dream Vacation Spots to Add to Your Bucket List
Where would you go if gifted a vacation to anywhere? It’s relaxing to daydream and think about where you would visit.
Why not add one of these nine dream vacation spots to your bucket list? You’ll have plenty of adventures to share with the folks back home and enjoy the variety of rich beauty and cultures that make up our world.
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