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Quebec City Instead of Paris


Quebec City Instead of Paris


The exchange rate is currently in favor of Canada, and you won’t encounter the same crowds in Quebec City as in Paris. What you will find, especially if you stay in the UNESCO-designated Old City, are cobblestone streets worthy of a French village and plenty of chances to practice your French. Even better, you won’t have to sacrifice amazing food, since Quebec City does justice to both French and French Canadian dining. Standouts include the award-winning Panache, which feels like the country French farmhouse of your dreams. Le Grafitti attracts more locals than tourists, and offers an updated approach to French (and Italian) dishes. Don't miss queuing up for crepes at Casse-Crêpe Breton and gorging on poutine at Le Chic Shack and Chez Ashton. Visit the recently opened Pierre Lassonde Pavilion at the Musée National des Beaux-Arts du Québec. The collections include more than 2,600 pieces of Inuit art and some of the finest paintings by regional artists. For shopping, Old City offers a plethora of one-of-a-kind boutiques. Pop into Charlevoix Pure Laine on the iconic Petit Champlain for hats, scarves and mittens made from the wool of Charlevoix sheep. Venture past Old City to explore the trendy Saint-Roch district and poke along Rue St. Jean. When it’s time to crash, spend a night at the historic Château Frontenac. At the very least, grab drinks at its 1608 Wine & Cheese Bar, named for the year and spot the city was founded. Or batten down at Auberge Saint-Antoine, (which also houses Panache) a converted 19th-century warehouse that exudes French rustic charm. You’ll forget you're not in Paris. 960 1280

iStockphoto: HonestTraveller/gregobagel  

The Northern Lights in Reykjavik, Iceland Instead of Scandinavia

The Northern Lights in Reykjavik, Iceland Instead of Scandinavia

Norway, Sweden and Finland are often associated with the spectacular northern lights phenomena (aka the aurora borealis), but the airfare and long drives from the nearest airport make Northern Europe viewing more expensive and less accessible. Enter Reykjavik, just a six-hour flight from New York City, plus low fares on WOW Air and Norwegian Air make it more affordable than ever. The fact that Reykjavik is the northernmost capital in the world means you can even base yourself in the city to catch one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. While it’s never guaranteed you’ll see the light show, your chances increase between late September through early April. Grotta Lighthouse, about an hour walk, or 10-minute drive, from downtown, is one of your best bets for viewing the lights in Reykjavik proper. The Pearl is another option, home to a revolving restaurant and observation deck. Alternatively, numerous Northern Lights tours leave from the city: Elding offers a two-hour excursion, which includes a 20-minute boat ride to Videy Island. In the event you don't see any lights, the company will provide a free tour ticket good for two years.   960 1280

  

The Biltmore Estate Instead of a European Castle

The Biltmore Estate Instead of a European Castle

If a European trip isn’t in the budget, the U.S. boasts castles to rival Europe’s grand dames. The Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina, was modeled after the French chateaus of the Loire Valley and is considered the largest privately owned manse in the country. Architect Richard Morris Hunt, whose other projects included The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Statue of Liberty, designed this National Historic Landmark. This epitome of Gilded Age homes contains 250 rooms, 34 bedrooms, 43 bathrooms and three kitchens, filled with centuries-old tapestries and Renoir paintings throughout. Since owner George Washington Vanderbilt III outfitted it with the era’s latest and greatest, it’s also one of the few 19th-century homes with central heating and plumbing, electricity, fire alarms, elevators and an early refrigeration system. The grandeur doesn’t stop inside; Fredrick Law Olmsted, who designed Central Park, brainstormed Biltmore’s grounds, from formal gardens to a 250-acre park. Explore the house at a leisurely pace on a self-guided tour, which provides access to three floors and the basement. Or take the guided Premium Biltmore House Tour, a private two-hour viewing that includes rooftop access. Unfortunately visitors can’t stay at Biltmore itself, but there are three hotels on the property as part of Biltmore Village. 960 1280

Getty Images: Walter Bibikow/wjarek  

The Egyptian Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Instead of the Egyptian Pyramids

The Egyptian Wing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Instead of the Egyptian Pyramids

By all means the Pyramids at Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, should remain a bucket list item. However, you’ll only be visiting a shell; the treasures within have long been looted or removed to world-class museums. Fortunately one of the world’s best collections can be found among 39 rooms at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, thanks in part to a 35-year archeological excavation. Highlights include mummies, jewelry and wooden tomb models.

But the main event is the Temple of Dendur, housed in a soaring, partially glass-enclosed wing. Roman emperor Caesar Augustus constructed the Temple around 15 B.C for the goddess Isis, a major deity in ancient Egypt. Part of a UNESCO campaign in the ‘60s to save it from floodwaters, the Egyptian government dismantled and shipped the Temple to the U.S. for preservation. President Lyndon B. Johnson later gifted it to the museum. Besides admiring the carved reliefs, keep an eye out for 19th-century graffiti that’s been left intact.
960 1280

Brooks Walker/domin_domin  

Overwater Bungalows in Jamaica Instead of the Maldives

Overwater Bungalows in Jamaica Instead of the Maldives

French Polynesia and the Maldives possess the lion’s share of overwater bungalows, but the time and expense of getting to those islands is a deal-breaker for many. Don’t despair: they’re not the only places in the world to get the full overwater experience. Enter the brand-new bungalows at the five-star, all-inclusive Sandals Royal Caribbean Resort, one of the only real-deal overwater bungalows on this side of the world. This new addition to the Montego Bay resort includes 12 truly luxurious villas modeled after their Tahitian counterparts, with glass floors, giant soaking tubs and infinity pools to boot. While the spacious bungalows are removed from the rest of the resort, a private butler, 24-hour room service and dedicated water taxi ensure that you won’t feel like you’re stranded on a remote (if posh) retreat. Starting at $1,435 a night, it’s not cheap, but still a lot closer than the Maldives. 960 1280

Sandals Resort/AleksandarNakic  

California Wine Country Instead of Italy's Wine Country

California Wine Country Instead of Italy's Wine Country

You could easily spend weeks exploring Italy’s many famed wine regions — Tuscany, Piedmont, Veneto — but if that’s not in the budget, head to the best wine region in the US. California Wine Country, just north of San Francisco, consists of Napa and Sonoma Valleys, and offers a whopping 800-plus wineries between the two. Take note that many of the smaller wineries are reservation only, even in the slower seasons, and the larger ones may also require advance bookings for tours and special tastings. Many first-timers start in Napa, whose 12 wine regions produce many award-winning wines, from Cabernet Sauvignon to Chardonnay. Deciding where to start can be overwhelming, but you can’t go wrong by exploring the dozens of wineries along the quieter Silverado Trail, such as Clos Du Val, William Hill Estate Winery or Hagafen Cellars. Elsewhere in Napa, Robert Mondavi Winery, Castello di Amorosa and Grgich Hills Estate attract larger crowds, but the grounds and wines of all three are worth it. Sonoma tends to be less crowded and more laid back than Napa, and its 17 appellations produce everything from Merlot to Pinot Noir. Base yourself in charming Healdsburg. From there, head straight to Westside Road, a curving, bucolic stretch with one winery after another. Leave time for Gary Farrell Winery and Porter Creek Vineyards at the very least. Elsewhere in Sonoma, budget time to visit Francis Ford Coppola Winery, Jordan Vineyard & Winery and Scribe Winery to get a comprehensive taste of the best Sonoma has to offer.  960 1280

iStockphoto.com: johnrandallalves/Scacciamosche  

A Wildlife Safari in Yellowstone National Park Instead of an African Safari

A Wildlife Safari in Yellowstone National Park Instead of an African Safari

It’s not uncommon for an all-inclusive, higher-end African safari to run upwards of $1,000 a night (or more). True, there are more affordable options, but then you have to factor in the cost of flights, the hassle of vaccinations and visas, not to mention the time needed. If you’re not ready just yet for this major undertaking, consider going on what amounts to an American safari. Wildlife Expeditions, operated by non-profit Teton Science Schools, runs half, full and multiday trips to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks. Instead of lions, zebras and elephants, expert guides will track wolves, bears, elk, moose, bison and more. The weeklong Winter Wolves of Yellowstone is a sought-after option to spot retiring gray wolves in their native habitat. Along the way you might also see bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope and golden eagles while traveling via safari-like vehicles. Expect to pay $3,300 a person for the week, but this includes comfortable lodging, meals and snacks. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com: JudiLen/skynesher  

The El Yunque Rainforest in Puerto Rico Instead of the Amazon Rainforest

The El Yunque Rainforest in Puerto Rico Instead of the Amazon Rainforest

As the world’s largest tropical rainforest, the Amazon’s merits don’t need to be touted. It’s home to about 10 percent of the world’s animal species, such as black spider monkeys, macaws and jaguars. But the time, cost and logistics of getting to the Amazon are not insignificant. Enter the El Yunque National Forest in Rio Grande, Puerto Rico, less than an hour’s drive east from San Juan. Believe it or not, it’s not only a U.S. national forest, but it’s also the only tropical rainforest in America’s forest system. At 28,000 acres it can’t compare size-wise to the Amazon, but it contains plant life and animal species you won’t find anywhere else in the world. The flora includes 240 types of trees and 150 fern species, while its biodiversity encompasses the endangered Puerto Rican parrot, 11 bat species, and most notably, the indigenous coquí tree frog, Puerto Rico’s national symbol. One of the best ways to experience El Yunque is by hiking one or more of its 18 trails. However, leave the popular La Mina Waterfalls Trail to the tourist hordes, and opt instead for the challenging El Yunque Trail to the 3,496-foot peak. Don’t forget your camera or phone to capture miles of rolling green hills and the sparkling blue water just beyond. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com: OGphoto/apomares  

Bungee Jumping From the Navajo Bridge in Marble Canyon, Arizona Instead of in New Zealand

Bungee Jumping From the Navajo Bridge in Marble Canyon, Arizona Instead of in New Zealand

Bungee jumping tourism started in New Zealand almost 30 years ago; since then, it’s remained a destination goal for adrenaline enthusiasts. Hope isn’t lost if your budget doesn’t cover a plane ticket to New Zealand this year, as the U.S. has worthwhile alternatives. The Navajo Bridge in Marble Canyon, Arizona, near the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, regularly makes it onto lists for top bungee jumping sites. At 467 feet it’s not the tallest in the U.S., but it is among the handful that allow organized jumps. It also offers peerless views of the Colorado River and Marble Canyon, and is the closest you can get to pretending that you’re swan diving into the Grand Canyon. Bungee Expeditions organizes jumps from the Navajo Bridge for $250 a person. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com: pick-uppath/4FR  

Scuba Diving in Marathon Key, Florida Instead of the Great Barrier Reef

Scuba Diving in Marathon Key, Florida Instead of the Great Barrier Reef

As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Great Barrier Reef is not only the largest coral reef system in the world, but also the largest living organism; so great, in fact, that it can be viewed from space. Alas, time and money make this bucket list fave a once-in-a-lifetime trip for many scuba divers. If this is not the year, then consider the coral reef along the Florida Keys. It’s the only tropical reef system in the U.S. Atlantic, and the third largest reef in the world. Luckily, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects more than 6,000 types of marine critters, plants and objects. Divers in the know favor Sombrero Reef, off of Marathon in the Middle Keys, for its array of coral, tropical fish, barracuda, stingrays and sea turtles. Another area highlight is Thunderbolt, an intentionally sunken ship from the WWII era. Three decades of corals and sponges cover its surface, attracting angelfish, amberjack, goliath grouper and more.  960 1280

Getty Images: Dickson Images/vyenel  

sightseeing, Jamaica, caribbean, outdoor, adventure, treasure beach
Treasure Beach

Treasure Beach

Fishing boats cast off on Jamaica's famous Treasure Beach. The beach stretches 6 miles along the island's southern coast. 960 1280

narvikk / Getty images  

Cliff Diving at Rick's Cafe

Cliff Diving at Rick's Cafe

Not afraid of heights? Try cliff diving along the Negril coast. One of the most famous places to cliff dive in Jamaica is Rick's Cafe (pictured above). 960 1280

Doug Pearson / Getty images  

Y.S. Falls

Y.S. Falls

Take a dip in the pool around Y.S. Falls, located on the south coast of Jamaica. Up for an adrenaline rush? You can also go zip-lining in the park. 960 1280

TalbotImages / Getty images  

Rose Hall Plantation

Rose Hall Plantation

Located near Montego Bay, the Great House of Rose Hall Plantation is said to be haunted by Annie Palmer, a former mistress of the house who was said to have practiced voodoo. 960 1280

Doug Pearson / Getty images  

Negril Beach

Negril Beach

Relaxation more your style? What about taking a nap on this beach bed on Negril Beach? 960 1280

Sisoje / Getty images  

Bob Marley Museum

Bob Marley Museum

Are you a fan of the legend? The Bob Marley Museum and Mausoleum is a must-see in Kingston, Jamaica. 960 1280

Luis Davilla / Getty images  

Port Royal

Port Royal

Jamaica's Port Royal is known today as more of an archaeological site than a commercial center. Sinking under the waves in an earthquake, it is known as "the city that sank." 960 1280

Education Images / UIG / Getty images  

Prospect Plantation

Prospect Plantation

The Great House at Prospect Plantation near Ocho Rios dates to the early 18th century. Today, tourists can stroll the grounds on horseback, camelback, and bicycle. 960 1280

Glowimages / Getty images  

Devon House

Devon House

Devon House, sitting on 11 acres of property in the middle of Kingston, was owned by Jamaica's first black millionaire, George Stiebel. 960 1280

Doug Pearson / Getty images  

Dunn's River Falls

Dunn's River Falls

Dunn's River Falls, located near Ocho Rios, is one of the most famous tourist sites in Jamaica. Visitors can actually climb up the tiered falls on foot. 960 1280

Paul Thompson / Getty images  

Ocho Rios

Ocho Rios

Ocho Rios isn't only known for its beautiful white beaches and sparkling blue waters: it was also used to shoot the 1962 James Bond film "Dr. No." 960 1280

fallbrook / Getty images  

Montego Bay

Montego Bay

Is this love, or is it just the beautiful sunset over Montego Bay? Not only does Montego Bay offer sunsets to die for, but it also provides visitors with several pristine beach resorts for lounging in luxury. 960 1280

Doug Pearson / Getty images  

Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium - New Orleans

Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium - New Orleans

A true survey of New Orleans cuisine wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Bug Appétit at the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, which has dished up insects to curious visitors since 2008. Jayme Necaise, Director of Animal and Visitor Programs, called their Chocolate Chirp Cookies (pictured here) "gateway bugs." "Once you eat this cricket cookie, you’ll want to eat all of the other bug-infused dishes on our Bug Buffet," she said. "We get lots of interested guests saying they’d like to take home a dozen of our cookies.” Bug Appétit features a kaleidoscope of so-called creepy crawlies. Think: Crispy Cajun Crickets ("like BBQ sunflower seeds"), Southwest Waxworms dusted in taco seasoning, Cinnamon Bug Crunch (moth larvae prepared like churros), Six-Legged Salsa (peppers and onions blended with crab-boiled mealworms) and more. 960 1280

  

Don Bugito - San Francisco

Don Bugito - San Francisco

Inspired by pre-Colombian Mexican Cuisine, Monica Martinez established a "pre-Hispanic snackeria" to bring insect-based dishes to the Bay Area via catering, educational workshops and snack-slinging. "Insects are very high in protein, Omega-3s, fiber, trace minerals, all the good stuff," she said. "Eighty percent of their body mass is made out of all of these good things." Monica’s wax moth larvae tacos (pictured) is one of her most popular dishes. 960 1280

Michelle Edmunds  

Don Bugito - San Francisco

Don Bugito - San Francisco

"The most amazing [thing about bugs as a foodstuff]," Monica continued, "is that they’re incredibly sustainable and environmentally friendly—and genetically, they are far removed from humans, so risk of contamination is very low in comparison to other types of animal protein." (In other words, you’re not going to contract Mad Cricket Disease.) Ready to try some covered in dark chocolate? Many of Monica’s snacks are available online. 960 1280

  

Linger - Denver

Linger - Denver

“We began serving crickets a year ago in different iterations, including tacos and tamales,” said Jeremy Kittelson, culinary director at Edible Bleats (the restaurant group behind Linger and three other Denver eateries). Linger’s cricket and cassava empanadas are their interpretation of a Bolinho, a classic Brazilian fritter, served with a Peruvian corn purée. The protein here is banded crickets (Gryllodes sigillatus) from Rocky Mountain Micro Ranch (yes, crickets are micro-ranched, not hunted). "They taste like grassy sunflower seeds with herbaceous notes," Kittelson said. 960 1280

  

Hugo's - Houston

Hugo's - Houston

Fans of Oaxacan cuisine in Houston swarm to Hugo’s (Chef Hugo Ortega’s namesake restaurant), where pan-sautéed grasshoppers (known to Mexican chefs as "chapulines") are served with guacamole, tortillas and chipotle-tomatillo salsa. The 'hoppers were originally harvested from Oaxacan corn fields, but the restaurant has recently switched over to chapulines that feed on alfalfa and sesame fields—and they’ve noticed "a fairly big difference in how they taste." Little changes make a big difference when you’re working with tiny livestock. 960 1280

  

Caracol - Houston

Caracol - Houston

Chef Hugo also serves insects at Caracol, another Houston eatery, where diners can order gusanos de maguey (maguey worms, or Aegiale hesperiaris, are one of two edible caterpillars that infest the maguey plant). The gusanos are sautéed with mojo de ajo, onion and parsley, then served atop black beans in corn tortillas with sides of guacamole and habanero sauce. 960 1280

  

Nue - Seattle

Nue - Seattle

You won’t find mangdana, or water bugs, on the main menu at Nue, but Chef Chris Cvetkovich is more than happy to dish them up by request. "The flavor is always more intense than people anticipate, and therefore [the water bugs are] served wth a ball of sticky rice and a few Thai chilies that people can nibble," he said. "The mangdana that we serve are all male, as the males produce pheromones to attract mates." The pheromones also give the mangdana a distinct flavor. "It can best be described as that of an artificially flavored candy such as a Jolly Rancher. Much more fruity than anticipated and quite salty," Cvetkovich said. The bugs are sashimi-grade and require no cooking; they’re simply warmed to room temperature and served in all their glory. 960 1280

  

Nue - Seattle

Nue - Seattle

Mangdana’s unique taste is also useful as a seasoning, and it appears in dishes like Thai nam prik curry paste, Chef Cvetkovich said. "Because of [the bugs’] rarity and the labor involved [in collecting them], mangdana essence has been synthesized into an artificial flavoring that is often used." The team at Nue, however, prefers to source the bug—and uses it to infuse Beetlejuice, a popular chilled vodka cocktail. 960 1280

  

Oyamel - Washington, D.C.

Oyamel - Washington, D.C.

Chapulines tacos are one of the most popular dishes at Oyamel, José Andres’ Oaxacan-inflected D.C. eatery, where they’re nestled with shallots, tequila and guacamole in tortillas ground out each morning from heirloom corn (sourced from family farms in Mexico). "What can we say, the Oaxacan tradition is delicious!" 960 1280

  

Poquitos - Seattle

Poquitos - Seattle

The chapulines served as an appetizer at Poquitos find a lot of love on the internet: "They definitely garner a lot of attention from customers and get a lot of shares on social media!" the team reported. If they look like a bar snack, well, that’s no coincidence: "In Oaxaca, chapulines are traditionally served with a cold beer, much like salted nuts would be in the U.S." 960 1280

  

Talavera - Miami

Talavera - Miami

At Talavera in Miami, grasshoppers seasoned with lime and chile peppers impart a strong "earthy and grassy flavor" to a diminutive tostada with guacamole and queso añejo. Visitors hankering for chapulines as a main course can head to the restaurant on Fridays, when the regional special is a roasted poblano pepper stuffed with ground beef hash, topped with chapulin cream, and garnished with pine nuts and chapulines. 960 1280

  

Toloache - New York City

Toloache - New York City

In the Big Apple, Chef Julian Medina’s Toloache (named for an elegant flowering plant that happens to yield a psychoactive hallucinogen) is well known for its refined and authentic Latin cuisine—and its grasshopper tacos. Toloache’s chapulines are served with jalapenos, onions, cilantro, salsa and guacamole, which the team recommends pairing with its Mezcalita de Pina (a cocktail made with mezcal and roasted pineapple). 960 1280

  

Black Ant - New York City

Black Ant - New York City

Insect enthusiasts of all stripes can find satisfaction at NYC’s Black Ant, an East Village Mexican restaurant that both honors traditional recipes and flips them on their heads. Diners who don’t fancy bugs’ characteristic crunch can sip chapulin bisque; eaters who appreciate their texture can order croquetas de chapulin (pictured here), which feature grasshoppers that are both ground (inside) and fried (on top). 960 1280

  

Black Ant - New York City

Black Ant - New York City

Adventurous eaters with a sweet tooth, in turn, should skip ahead to the dessert menu for a Dia de los Muertos-inspired burnt chile macaraoon with fried plantain, zapote ice cream and ant powder. 960 1280

  

La Condesa - Austin

La Condesa - Austin

Chapulines fans in Austin turn to Chef Rick Lopez, who offers grasshopper tacos as an off-menu item year-round at La Condesa. "Harvesting [chapulines] takes place throughout the year, but [it’s easier] during cooler months," he says. "The harvesting happens early in the morning, as the chapulines are relatively immobile due to their being cold-blooded." He prefers a humble beverage with his grasshoppers: "The perfect drink for me when I eat tacos de chapulines is a nice cold Negro Modelo, or any beer for that matter. You don’t need anything too fancy or overdone when you eat such a simple and delicious dish.” 960 1280

  

Taqueria Feliz - Philadelphia

Taqueria Feliz - Philadelphia

Chef Tim Spinner at Philadelphia’s Taqueria Feliz sources the chapulines for his tacos (served in a house-made corn tortilla with onions, cilantro, guacamole and morita chile salsa) both from local tiendas in the city and one of his chef’s mothers: "She lives outside Oaxaca and sends them over [for us]." It doesn’t get any better than grasshopper tacos like Mom used to make. 960 1280

  

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