Santorini is one of the Cyclades islands in the Aegean Sea. It was devastated by a volcanic eruption in the 16th century BC, forever shaping its rugged landscape. The whitewashed, cubiform houses of its 2 principal towns, Fira and Oia, cling to cliffs above an underwater caldera (crater). They overlook the sea, small islands to the west and beaches made up of black, red and white lava pebbles.
The Maldives is a tropical nation in the Indian Ocean composed of 26 ring-shaped atolls, which are made up of more than 1,000 coral islands. It’s known for its beaches, blue lagoons and extensive reefs. The capital, Malé, has a busy fish market, restaurants and shops on the main road, Majeedhee Magu, and 17th-century Hukuru Miskiy (also known as Friday Mosque) made of carved white coral.
Florence, capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, is home to many masterpieces of Renaissance art and architecture. One of its most iconic sights is the Duomo, a cathedral with a terracotta-tiled dome engineered by Brunelleschi and a bell tower by Giotto. The Galleria dell’Accademia displays Michelangelo’s “David” sculpture. The Uffizi Gallery exhibits Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” and da Vinci’s “Annunciation.”
Kauai is an island in the Central Pacific, part of the Hawaiian archipelago. It’s nicknamed “the Garden Isle” thanks to the tropical rainforest covering much of its surface. The dramatic cliffs and pinnacles of its Na Pali Coast have served as a backdrop for major Hollywood films, while 10-mile-long Waimea Canyon and the Nounou Trails traversing the Sleeping Giant mountain ridge are hiking destinations.
Carmel-by-the-Sea is a small beach city on California’s Monterey Peninsula. It’s known for the museums and library of the historic Carmel Mission, and the fairytale cottages and galleries of its village-like center. The Scenic Bluff Path runs from surf spot Carmel Beach to bird-rich Carmel River State Beach, with a scuba entry point. South lie the sea animals and whaling museum of Point Lobos State Natural Reserve.
St. Moritz, Switzerland
St. Moritz is a luxury alpine resort town in Switzerland’s Engadin valley. It has hosted the Winter Olympics twice, has the Cresta Run, a world-championship bobsled run made of natural ice, and an outdoor Olympic ice rink. Its frozen lake hosts polo, cricket and even horse racing on ice. Ski and snowboard areas include Corviglia, Diavolezza and Corvatsch, and there are well-groomed cross-country ski trails.
Quebec City, Quebec
Québec City sits on the Saint Lawrence River in Canada’s mostly French-speaking Québec province. Dating to 1608, it has a fortified colonial core, Vieux-Québec and Place Royale, with stone buildings and narrow streets. This area is the site of the towering Château Frontenac Hotel and imposing Citadelle of Québec. The Petit Champlain district’s cobblestone streets are lined with bistros and boutiques.
Savannah, a coastal Georgia city, is separated from South Carolina by the Savannah River. It’s known for manicured parks, horse-drawn carriages and antebellum architecture. Its historic district is filled with cobblestoned squares and parks such as Forsyth Park shaded by oak trees covered with Spanish moss. At the center of this picturesque district is the landmark, Gothic-Revival Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist.
Islamorada is a village encompassing 6 of the Florida Keys, known for their coral reefs. The Theater of the Sea features dolphin encounters. Exhibits at the History of Diving Museum include a 16th-century treasure chest. Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park is a former quarry. Lignumvitae Key Botanical State Park has tropical forest. Indian Key Historic State Park is a tiny island with 1800s ruins.
Mallorca (Majorca) is one of Spain’s Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean. It’s known for beach resorts, sheltered coves, limestone mountains and Roman and Moorish remains. Capital Palma has nightlife, the Moorish Almudaina royal palace and 13th-century Santa María Cathedral. Stone-built villages include Pollença, with its art galleries and music festival, and hillside Fornalutx, surrounded by citrus plantations.