THE ADVENTURE LIST

I

have only just boarded the plane to Bogotá, and the reflexive question of a weary traveler creeps in: Why, again, am I going here? There’s Colombian food in Queens. Hills to hike in the Catskills. Carlos Vives on Spotify. Miss Universe on network TV. Why am I jetting down across the Caribbean, in this era where the world can come to me?

 

The obvious out is that travel is for the vistas, the solitude, the crowdedness, the history, the collections, the physical experiences, the cuisine, the culture and the people who can’t be duplicated away from their own place. Sure. We all know that. But those are only ideals, and it takes a finer weathervane than naming them to feel these things deeply and in a worthwhile way when venturing forth. In the end it means nothing to dine there, do this, see that, if it doesn’t transfer into experience.Absorption of adventure doesn’t come in listing experiences. It’s how those experiences happen in the time and place that one intersects with them — and how the traveller receives those moments.

Travel resonates in the small nuances: the pride of a chef when presenting his cuisine at the table (“I want my food to do the highest good”); the feeling of breathlessness when a sea-level dweller lands in a city at 8,500 feet; and the rhythms of riding in a diminutively portioned Hyundai i10 that bounds over poorly kept roads in Bogotá, reggaeton playing through the stereo and the cabbie at the helm in steep denial about the contaminación that hangs over the city like an immovable cloud. “¿Acá? ¡No! ¿Acá? ¡No!”

Those distinctions of place, those subtle cadences. To find them, to feel the high that comes with recognizing that newness of experience, there is only travel, be it to a country across the world, or the National Park in your own backyard. And so whether we travel to build a small part of ourselves by learning slang in the local parlance or tasting fruits from a new latitude, or to leave a small bit of ourselves by conquering that mountain or swimming in that sea, the one reliable constant of travel is this: The observant traveller will not leave unchanged. – Matthew Ankeny

Now, On to the Destinations…

 

 

Socotra Island, Yemen

Explore the otherworldly beauty of the Island of Bliss
Located between Somalia and Yemen, the island of Socotra is the Galápagos of the Middle East. A panoply of flora, fauna and animals not found anywhere else on Earth — including the iconic dragon’s-blood trees — provide the backdrop for travelers willing to brave Socotra’s harsh, dry climate and the countless difficulties of actually getting there. Roads are limited, so overland exploration requires patience, tenacity and possibly a camel. The limestone plateaus that rise from white sandy beaches are riddled with caves and lead to the granite peak of the Hajhir Mountains some 5,000 feet above.

As legend has it, Socotra’s ancient residents had control of the winds, resulting in the redirection of countless trade ships towards its treacherous and shallow reefs, to be plundered of their supplies. The resulting wrecks, which are estimated to be in the hundreds, have created a diver’s paradise with many sites being well within 100 feet of the surface.

Hotels on Socotra are few and lacking in luxuries and most have actually been shuttered due to the political climate in Yemen, but camp sites are plentiful, diverse and extremely safe. Hadiboh is the largest village where local restaurants serve simple but well-prepared meals and its market can easily set you up for multi-day treks. – Matt Neundorf

 

Sri Lanka

Hot curries, cool mountains and high tea
Marco Polo fell in love with it, Mark Twain called it “the finest island of its size in the world” and the Dutch, Portuguese and British colonized it, yet a civil war kept travelers away for 25 years. Now that peace has returned, Sri Lanka is ready to greet visitors again. The country formerly known as Ceylon truly has it all, with world-class diving and surfing on the east coast, ancient Buddhist temples in the jungle, wild elephants down south and trekking in the cool mountainous interior. Throw in a thriving nightlife in the capital Colombo, ample hot curries and homegrown Ceylon tea, and Sri Lanka is once again the jewel of the Indian Ocean. – Jason Heaton

 

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Tigray Region, Ethiopia

Explore Africa’s most stunning landscape
Last year the European Council on Tourism and Trade named Ethiopia the world’s best tourist destination. This is not only thanks to its rich culture and well-preserved heritage — hundreds of rock-hewn churches pepper the countryside — but also to its mind-blowing landscape, widely considered the best in Africa. Start in Addis Ababa, the capital and largest city, but make your way to the Tigray Region to tour its steep mountains and heavily farmed valleys. The taller Simien mountains in Simien National Park, a World Heritage Site, have waterfalls, wildlife and even more spectacular vistas. – Eric Adams

 

Trinidad, California

Nor-Cal’s answer to Big Sur
An hour and a half south of the Oregon border is Trinidad, California, a quaint oceanside town near Redwood National Park. With stunning ocean views and dense forests, this stretch of coast rivals the central coast’s Big Sur, but is refreshingly less traveled. With a population shy of 400, the best bet for a place to stay is a local B&B, and the Lost Whale Inn puts you right on the picturesque rock-strewn beach. Indulge in the local seafood after hiking the Trinidad Head, or relax with some beach-combing. Any trip to Trinidad would be remiss without some time spent in Redwood National Park, exploring miles of backcountry trails and camping among the trees and dense ferns. With the coastline pairing with the forest, a trip to Trinidad is one part of California not to miss. – John Zientek

 

Antarctica

Explore the beauty of the end of the Earth
Traveling to the end of the Earth isn’t for the faint of heart (or the cash-strapped) but you’d be joining a very small group of people who have visited the southernmost continent of the world. With that comes a surreal experience and requisite bragging rights. Take a flight down to Ushuaia, Argentina during the austral summer months and catch a boat to the Antarctic Peninsula. There are no hotels, Michelin-star restaurants or local cultures to acclimate to, but there are plenty of ways to enjoy Antarctica. Camp in a bivy sack, take in the wildlife and views (like Lemaire Channel), go for a zodiac cruise through the continent’s smaller passage ways or tour the ominous Deception Island– Andrew Connor

 

Richmond, Virginia

A historic city comes of age
The oldest of America’s original 13 colonies is Virginia, so it’s no surprise that its capital, Richmond, which Robert E Lee once named the capital of the Confederacy, is steeped in history. 150 years later, the city still has numerous Civil War haunts that visitors can dive deep into, such as the American Civil War Museum, which provides wartime perspectives from Union and Confederate leaders, soldiers, slaves and civilians alike. And if you need a lavish place to crash, The Jefferson Hotel has been around since 1895.

Yet, in the past few years, this old city has experienced a modern renaissance. The once dilapidated tobacco warehouses now play host to art studios and hip apartments. An influx of new bars and restaurants — like Secco Wine Bar, which serves small-batch terroir-driven wines, and Toast, which has wine on tap alongside local fried seafood — make the city feel similar to what Austin and Nashville were several years ago. For shopping (and window shopping), head to the boutique shops of Carytown. It’s here you can find Need Supply Company for current trends in urban style. Or if you’re the outdoors type, head to Riverside Outfitters, who host whitewater rafting trips on the James River, as well as limb walks and high-elevation ziplines through the trees. Richmond is a city that retains a small-town feel, but, with the infusion of fresh verve, it’s set to make marks in contemporary history. – Tucker Bowe

Savannah, Georgia

Southern comfort in a historic city
Savannah’s epithet, “The Hostess City of the South,” is well deserved. It’s a relatively small place that can be easily explored via trolly, bike or foot, so you can tackle the best of it in a couple days without stress. For appropriate, laid-back accommodations, stay in one of the historic B&Bs, like the Forsyth Park Inn or the Presidents’ Quarters Inn in the heart of downtown. Enjoy Southern comfort food from modern establishments like The Grey or more classic ones like Olde Pink House. And, assuming you don’t feel ashamed for an entirely fried diet, hit up the beaches to the north of the city at Hilton Head Island for some sun and relaxation. – Andrew Connor

Dubrovnik, Croatia

If it’s good enough for King Joffrey, it’s good enough for you
About a 15-minute drive from the Old City, there is a restaurant, carved into the side of the cliff, nestled on the eastern flank of a quiet Adriatic bay, where a smiling Croatian man might park his boat a stone’s throw from your table. He will carry in a grip of langoustines, mussels, or a cuttlefish, and your waiter will happily tell you that that’s what’s on today’s menu at Gverovic Orsan. That waiter will then point to the lounge chairs situated on the nearby shore, offer you a bottle of local white wine, and tell you to swim and sunbathe for the next hour while the chef cooks your meal. It’s there, floating in the Dalmatian coast’s greenish-blue waters, that any worry of Dubrovnik being overrun by tourists will fade from your mind.

The city’s ideal balance between old-world charm and modern European flare has contributed to a surge in popularity (and Game of Thrones, which is filmed on the city’s iconic, well-preserved medieval City Walls, surely helped), but gems like Gvervic Orsan are still waiting to be discovered. After you’ve exhausted the rich history of Dubrovnik, get on a ferry and visit Hvar or Mljet in the nearby archipelago.– Hayden Coplen

 

Funafuti, Tuvalu

Retreat to the Blue Lagoon
Even the saltiest of divers is intrigued by Funafuti’s outline on Google Maps. A series of nine atolls and thirty three islets, its land is comprised of large collections of reef that rise from the South Pacific and encircle to create its signature, 106 square-mile Te Namo Lagoon.

The largest island, Fongafale, is where you will fly into and spend most of your time. Its slim and sweeping mass varies in width between a quarter-mile to a mere 65 feet, making it ideally suited for exploration by motorcycle. To experience the lands where roads end, a boat is your only option, what with numerous yachts and catamaransavailable to charter. – Matt Neundorf

 

Santa Fe, New Mexico

“The City Different” lives up to its name
Nestled at the outskirts of Santa Fe National Forest near the foot of the Sangre de Christo Mountains, Santa Fe has a vibrant arts scene, delicious food and ample outdoor opportunities. As a home base, stay at either the Drury Plaza Hotel or the Inn of the Five Graces. From there, explore Santa Fe’s historic plaza — a National Historic Landmark. For a taste of what the outdoors offer in the Land of Enchantment, head off on a hike into the Pecos Wilderness where you can climb to around 11,000 feet and bathe in an alpine cirque. For a literal taste of what Santa Fe has to offer, Maria’s is your best bet — a local favorite where over 176 different margaritas (including a $50 version made with Milagro Silver Barrel and 100th Anniversary Cuvee Centenaire Grand Marnier) are slung alongside authentic Mexican cuisine. – AJ Powell

 

Guizhou, China

World-class rock climbing in the heart of rural China
Guizhou is one of the poorest regions in China, but that shouldn’t deter you from heading there for the adventure of a lifetime. Fly into the region’s major city, Guiyang, for a stay at the New World Hotel. While using Guiyang as a home base, head to Getu He for some of the world’s best rock climbing in caves and on arches. After a long day at the crag, make your way to any number of the delicious street food venders (bravery required) and unwind by checking out the picturesque Jiaxiu Tower on the Nanming River. – AJ Powell

 

Bob Marshall Wilderness, Montana

One of America’s great wilderness escapes
If you’re yearning for a remote mountain adventure and want to stay in the continental US, there is no better option than Montana’s Bob Marshall Wilderness, a million-acre rugged area that straddles the continental divide. Motorized and mechanized vehicles are prohibited from “The Bob” (that means no cars and no biking), but that makes the hiking, backpacking and fishing that much better. To get to this northwestern Montana wilderness, your closest international airports are in Missoula, to the south, or Great Falls, to the east. Bighorn sheep and mountain goats, along with elk, moose and bear call this area home, so be a good guest when setting up camp for the night. Summer wildfires, along with changing government regulations, threaten the area, so making a point to see this unchanged natural beauty should be a top priority for any outdoorsman. – John Zientek

 

Seychelles, Africa

An Indian Ocean vacation getaway (from everything)
This archipelago made up of over 100 islands sits close to 1,000 miles off the coast of East Africa, a bit north of Madagascar. The largest island, Mahé, home to the quaint capital city of Victoria, should serve as your home base (“largest” is relative; the entire country is home to less than a quarter of the population of Honolulu). Stay at the five-star Eden Bleu Hotel, for luxury comfort on the marina of Eden, with poolside restaurants and shuttle service to the famous Beau Vallon and Anse Royale. After visiting the quiet bustle of Victoria, and stopping for curry at Lai Lam Food Shop — a busy Creole stop with no pretense — explore the jungles and white beaches on foot, or the crystal-blue waters by boat or snorkel (the whale sharks make for a memorable dive). The entire country is beautiful — a playground for vacationers looking for coral reefs, mountaintops and lush greenery. But for a complete trip, nature lovers should head to Silhouette Island, one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the western Indian Ocean, hosting many endangered species, both on land, in the air and in its coral reefs. – Travis Smith

 

Ireland’s West Coast

A vast and remote expanse of bogs and beaches
Eschew the commonplace visit to Dublin, Ireland’s biggest tourist draw, for a journey along the island’s closest coast. The jagged, fractured coastline is a quiet country all to itself. Peat bogs, soft light and world-famous beaches run from Donegal to Cork, offering adventurous exploration or lazy relaxing days, depending on the visitor. Along the close to 500 miles of coastal roadways, bring a camera for the picturesque views, like the famous Cliffs of Moher and the untouched National Park. A ferry will take you to the Aran Islands, where you should stay overnight among limestone rocks etched with Gaelic history, or stay on the mainland in nearby Doolin for traditional music. The trip is largely your own to create, with an uncountable number of quaint pubs serving local lamb, pork and cheese, crab clays, Clew Bay mussels and oysters on the half shell, along with tuna, haddock, scallops and, of course, fish and chips. One unmissable night’s stay needs mentioning: the Ballynahinch Castle Hotel set in the mountains of Connemara makes for a perfect midpoint rest from your drive. – Travis Smith

Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve, Alaska

The least-visited place in the National Park system
On August 25, 2016, our dear United States of America will celebrate the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. Celebrate with a summer trip to the dynamic Aniakchak National Monument and Preserve on the Alaskan Peninsula — some 450 miles southeast of Anchorage — the least-visited location in the National Park System, recording as few as 26 visitors per year (as in 2007). The spiritual center of the place, Mount Aniakchak, is one of the Earth’s largest calderas, six miles wide and roughly 2,500 feet deep. Formed over 3,700 years ago, it is the collapsed result of a 7,000-foot volcano erupting. Accessible via air taxi, most visitors land near Surprise Lake for days of backcountry camping, fishing and hiking; one of the most “popular” draws is the Aniakchak River, running 27 miles east to the ocean. Though harsh winds and turbulent waters increase the risk factor, experienced rafters can run it in three or four days, camping on sandy gravel bars. Just bring your best gear, and be flexible with your dates — weather conditions change often and rapidly. – Jack Seemer

 

Mendoza, Argentina

Endless malbec and asado in the shadow of the Andes
I spent my whole time in the Uco Valley puzzled that I wasn’t surrounded by other wine-thirsty, beef-hungry tourists. It has modern, sparkling resorts like Casa de Uco, cast in clean concrete with stunning views around every corner, and charming, family-run farm B&Bs like Finca La Azul, with an on-site restaurant that served a braised beef dish I still crave a full year later. The area, built for equal parts indulgence and activity, already has the infrastructure to be Argentina’s Napa Valley, just sans crowds. A whole trip could be scheduled around wine tasting, but spend at least a day out of the cellars and hike in the nearby Andes. – Hayden Coplen

Detroit, Michigan

The Motor City resurges
Detroit is in the middle of a revival. Downtown has a booming bar scene and the outskirts are seeing a cultural surge of craft beer, spirits, music and art, that complement the city’s long-established world-class BBQ scene. When you know where to look, it is a city that beautifully captures America as a whole. If you want to experience lavish luxury, the Westin Book Cadillac and Coach Insignia await. For something more down to earth, Honor and Folly will make a bed, Red Smoke will set a plate. For a great meal check out Wright & Company (pictured above). For the time in between, Detroit’s car culture and underground rock world carry on the Detroit Rock and Motor City names with pride. – Bryan Campbell

 

Tsagaan Nuur, Mongolia

Venture into the Taiga
The village of Tsagaan Nuur is located to the northernmost district, Hovsgol, of Mongolia, near the border of Russia, and to say it’s remote is an understatement. Travelers need to fly into Murun, probably from Ulaanbaatar, and, after obtaining border permits, drive 12 hours north. But once there, the natural beauty of theKhorgo, Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park is stark. With the Tsaatan Community and Visitors Center (TCVC), the only Tsaatan-owned and -operated guide group, you’ll be able to explore the vast Taiga, by horseback, camp beneath the stars and meet a few of the distinct nomadic tribes that are indigenous to this territory. Be reassured, or deterred: this isn’t a glamping trip. You’ll be roughing it, camping in tents (or ortzes, Mongolian teepees) and only eating the rations that you carry with you. But it’s a trip that few, if any, of your friends have ever taken before. – Tucker Bowe

 

Portugal’s Douro Valley

Sip port wine atop terraces overlooking the Douro River
As American drinkers increasingly focus on their on local creations — craft beer andwhiskey — it’s as important as ever to remember our fermented origins. The Douro valley is the oldest protected wine region in the world, on the books since 1756 as producing world-renowned port wine — the sweet, red Portuguese creation usually enjoyed at dessert — and is also among the most beautiful. After lounging on terraced winemaking hills overlooking the Douro river, relax at The Yeatman, a refined addition to the historic port-making town of Oporto. After walking among chalky quintas, as old as American independence, enjoy Portugal’s alheira sausage and a well-curated list of wine at the slick Shis Restuarant or the classic fried octopus filets at Restaurante Casa Aleixo in Oporto. – Travis Smith

 

Miami, Florida

Culture on the coast
Back in 2012, the World Cities Study Group elevated Miami, Florida, to the status of Alpha World City, verifying its stake as a major global player in the company of New York, London and Tokyo. For visitors, Miami’s ascent is most easily traced via its growing network of arts and cultural institutions, the most significant of which is Art Basel Miami Beach, linking the city’s ever-emerging artists, galleries and private collections. Meanwhile, the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, or simplyMoCA, is home to an impressive 600-piece collection with a revolving door of exhibitions profiling the likes of Yoko Ono, Bruce Weber and Roy Lichtenstein. In South Beach, the Miami Beach Film Society has quietly nestled into the Cinematheque, built in 1927 by Carl Fisher, screening independent films and documentaries from around the globe in its single, 50-seat room. Nearby, wander the historic strip, where the city has invested considerably to preserve the Art Deco architecture of the early 20th century, which still shapes its many hotels. Notables include the Park Central, the National Hotel, theClevelander, the Raleigh HotelThe Tides and the Delano. Don’t forget to visit The Webster, however, on Collins Avenue, a tome of contemporary fashion inside an iconic Henry Harbour building built in the 1930s. – Jack Seemer

Gulmarg, India

The most contested ski resort is worth the journey
Situated in the Pir Pinjal range of the Himalayan mountains just miles from the India/Pakistan Line of Control — a separation of countries too contentious to officially be considered a border — Gulmarg has been one of India’s most lauded ski destinations for 90 years. As you’d expect for a Himalayan mountain, the Gondola tops out at a lung-popping 13,100 feet and you’ll have to hike to just shy of 14,000 to get the most out of the resort. But what you’ll get in return for your pulmonary edema is amazingly varied terrain and an incredible view. Though you can do it solo, it’s highly recommended to get a guide if you want to see the best parts of the mountain. Skiing aside, though, the biggest payoff about Gulmarg that you’ll never get from an American or European resort is the experience once you get off the mountain and into the cultural milieu of Kashmir. – Henry Phillips

 

Culebra, Puerto Rico

An affordable paradise, not yet overrun with condos
Too often swaths of condos, chain restaurants and hotels move into picturesque island communities, bringing familiar amenities to mass-market tourists. This has not happened on the Puerto Rican island of Culebra, and the locals would like it to stay that way. Visitors can relax on some of the best beaches in the world, engage in some leisurely hiking and just let go. How’s the wi-fi? It doesn’t matter. Stay at any number of privately owned accommodations — Casa Resaca is a fine choice — and try some local Puerto Rican fair at local hot spot Zaco’s Tacos. For snorkeling, hit up Tamarindo Beach, for hiking, check out Culebrita Island (a short kayak trip away). This Caribbean paradise is unspoiled, a perfect playground for any sun-loving traveler ready for relaxation. – John Zientek

 

Culebra, Puerto Rico

An affordable paradise, not yet overrun with condos
Too often swaths of condos, chain restaurants and hotels move into picturesque island communities, bringing familiar amenities to mass-market tourists. This has not happened on the Puerto Rican island of Culebra, and the locals would like it to stay that way. Visitors can relax on some of the best beaches in the world, engage in some leisurely hiking and just let go. How’s the wi-fi? It doesn’t matter. Stay at any number of privately owned accommodations — Casa Resaca is a fine choice — and try some local Puerto Rican fair at local hot spot Zaco’s Tacos. For snorkeling, hit up Tamarindo Beach, for hiking, check out Culebrita Island (a short kayak trip away). This Caribbean paradise is unspoiled, a perfect playground for any sun-loving traveler ready for relaxation. – John Zientek

 

Stockholm, Sweden

A fashion hub from the north
If you’re traveling to Sweden, you’re probably going through Stockholm. (You’re also probably going between April and September, as that’s when there’s sun.) The country is, admittedly, an outdoor adventurer’s dream: with Åre ski resort in the west,Visby, a Unesco World Heritage Site, off the coast in the Baltic Sea, and the famous church town Gammelstad in its north. But we recommend staying in the city — at least for a few days. Get out and explore, be it by boat on a historic canal tour or by two wheels on Stockholm Adventures‘ bike tours. And for shoppers, the city has recently become a thriving hub for fashion: Acne StudiosOur LegacyStutterheim Raincoatsand Fjällräven are all based in the city. Once you’ve tired out your feet and credit card, crash in the suburbs at Ett Hem, a boutique hotel with B&B charm. – Tucker Bowe

 

Alto Adige, Italy

Culture and beauty at the north end of the boot
Southern Italy has proven itself as great travel destination, sure, but if you’re not into crowds and beaches, the north should be on your travel list, starting at Alto Adige (also known as South Tyrol). The autonomous region has a local culture that’s a mix of both Austrian and Italian influence, making it an incredibly unique part of the country. And nowhere is this more apparent than the cuisine, be it the Germanic influence of potatoes, root vegetables and pork sausage or the Mediterranean influence of delicate cheese and cured meat (try the speck). Besides eating, Alto Adige is also ideal for the outdoorsy type. Its location in the Dolomites of the Italian Alps makes it an ideal spot to visit year-round — in the winter, ski and snowboard inMadonna di Campiglio; in the summer, go hiking, climbing or cycling through the hills of Alto Adige’s winemaking region– Andrew Connor

by COOLMATERIAL.com