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John Hancock Observatory
John Hancock Observatory

John Hancock Observatory

Take in a 360-degree view of the Windy City from 1,000 feet up, courtesy of the seventh-tallest building in the US. Located on Chicago’s bustling Michigan Avenue, the John Hancock Center offers views of up to 4 states (Illinois, Michigan, Indiana and Wisconsin) from its observatory deck. 960 1280

John Hancock Observatory  

Chicago Theatre

Chicago Theatre

Enjoy plays, magic shows, concerts and other performing arts at this historic theater in downtown Chicago’s historic Loop, or commercial center. Architecture buffs will also want to tour the famed 7-story landmark, which occupies nearly half a city block. 960 1280

iStock  

Navy Pier

Navy Pier

Take the kids to this 3,300-foot-long pier on the Chicago shoreline of Lake Michigan. A city fixture since 1916, Navy Pier now stands as Chicago’s No. 1 tourist attraction. Enjoy a dinner cruise, see fireworks at night, take in an IMAX movie and hop aboard the 150-foot-tall Navy Pier Ferris wheel -- Chicago was the first city in the world to erect one! 960 1280

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Wrigley Field

Wrigley Field

Take the gang out to the ballpark! Home to the Chicago Cubs since 1916, Wrigley Field hearkens back to baseball’s heyday with a jewel-box design. The ballpark is also famous for its outfield walls covered by ivy -- the only professional ballpark with that distinction -- and a scoreboard that’s still manually operated. 960 1280

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Chicago Field Museum

Chicago Field Museum

Brace yourself: These fighting African elephants go horn-to-horn at Chicago’s Field Museum. But the real star attraction at this museum of natural history is Sue, the largest, best-preserved and most complete T. rex ever found -- you’ll find this 42-foot-long, 13-foot-high beast within an exhibition on the museum’s balcony.  960 1280

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Chicago River Cruise

Chicago River Cruise

If you love water and architecture, then come to Chicago. Enjoy a cruise along one of Chicago’s 2 rivers: The Chicago River cuts through downtown, weaving past dozens of skyscrapers, each a speaking to a style of architecture known as the Chicago School, which went on to become famous throughout the world.   960 1280

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Robie House, Frank Lloyd Wright

Robie House, Frank Lloyd Wright

And on terra firma, take a tour of Robie House. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, the building, located on the University of Chicago’s campus, is often hailed by architects as one of the most important buildings in American architecture … and a forerunner of modernism in architecture. 960 1280
University of Chicago Tour

University of Chicago Tour

Bragging rights alert: This impressive 211-acre campus is widely considered by academics to be one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Let some of that smartness rub off with a tour of the grounds, which showcase a mixture of Victorian Goth and Collegiate Gothic architecture, as well as more modern styles.   960 1280

By Quinn Dombrowski from Berkeley, USA [CC BY-SA 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons  

Uno's and Malnati's

Uno's and Malnati's

Oh, yeah … sink your teeth into this carb-heaven indulgence, which we know and love as the deep-dish pizza. Origins of the deep-dish are disputed -- Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria in nearby Northbrook also claims to have invented the recipe. To which, we offer 1 solution: Sample both Uno’s deep-dish, and Malnati’s -- and see which one you like the best! 960 1280

Kenyaboy7, flickr   

Taste of Chicago

Taste of Chicago

Head to the outdoor food festival Taste of Chicago, which showcases more than 70 food vendors who set up shop over a 10-day period each summer in Chicago’s Grant Park. Just imagine: Chicago hot dogs, Eli’s cheesecake and so much more! Coming in the fall instead? Grant Park is home to another great show: the annual Lollapalooza music fest. 960 1280

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The Magnificent Mile

The Magnificent Mile

To see Chicago’s best landmarks, stroll down the Magnificent Mile. Just make sure your camera’s all juiced up: You’ll see some of America’s tallest buildings -- the John Hancock Center and the Trump International Hotel and Tower -- as well as Wrigley Building, Tribune Tower, the Chicago Water Tower and the Allerton Hotel. They don’t call this stretch of Chicago’s Michigan Avenue magnificent for nothing.  960 1280

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Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo

Some things in life really are free, and you can enjoy them any day of the year at the Lincoln Park Zoo. One of the last free-admission zoos in America, the 35-acre grounds are home to 1,200 animals, representing 230 species. Among them is this 1,700-pound polar bear, getting up close and personal with some visitors. 960 1280

Lincoln Park Zoo  

Billy Goat Tavern

Billy Goat Tavern

Feel the allure of newspapers’ glory days with a visit to this tavern. Tucked in a corner of Michigan Avenue, beneath elevated railroad tracks, the pub achieved its legendary status through newspaper columns by Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Mike Royko. Enter at your own risk (think: Curse of the Billy Goat story) … and order a cheezborger! 960 1280

Brent Payne, flickr   

The Bean

The Bean

There’s just something about Millennium Park’s Bean; people are drawn to the sculpture’s massive shiny, mirrored surface. They come up to it, gaze at their reflections, and the city skyline’s, and take advantage of some great photo-taking ops. Go ahead, you know you want to do the same.  960 1280

HIsham Ibrahim/The Image Bank/Getty Images  

Willis Tower

Willis Tower

Shooting 1,451 feet into the air, this 108-story skyscraper was the tallest building in the world when it was completed in 1973 -- a distinction it held for the next 25 years. Head to its Skydeck, on the 103rd floor; on a clear day, you can see across the plains of Illinois … and Lake Michigan … to Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin. Most astoundingly, visitors can actually feel the building sway on a windy day.  960 1280

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Second City

Second City

Improv and Chicago go hand in hand -- thanks to this improvisational comedy troupe in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood. For more than 5 decades, Second City has been a starting point for comedians, actors and directors, such as Bill Murray, who got his start here. 960 1280

Second City   

Check Into the 7-Star Burj Al Arab
Check Into the 7-Star Burj Al Arab

Check Into the 7-Star Burj Al Arab

To be honest, most of us will never really check into one of this 7-star hotel's 2-story opulent suites, complete with spiral staircases, but that doesn't mean you can't get a glimpse of the gold-leaf and glamour in person. The only other way to get past the gate is to make a reservation in advance at one of the hotel's 8 restaurants and bars -- all with exorbitant prices. We recommend dining al fresco at poolside restaurant Bab Al Yam followed by after-dinner drinks with panoramic views at the Skyview Bar (included in the dining experience). Even more affordable? Pick a beach bar at a nearby hotel and gaze upon the sail-shaped hotel and Arabian Gulf, as the most impressive view of all is of the exterior. 960 1280

  

Dinner With a View at Rivington Bar and Grill

Dinner With a View at Rivington Bar and Grill

One could argue there's no better vantage point of the Dubai Mall's dancing fountains and Burj Khalifa than over a meal at the Rivington Bar and Grill in the Souk al Bahar. If you can call at least a week out, you should be able to secure a seat with an optimal view on the open-air terrace. Those less enthused by the British concept should check out the Mango Tree, a Thai restaurant with a neighboring view. 960 1280

  

Stroll Along the Dubai Marina

Stroll Along the Dubai Marina

See the Dubai Marina's stunning skyscrapers like a local by strolling along the Jumeirah Beach Residence Walk, or JBR. Pop into one of the cafes lining the wide, beachfront promenade to people and car watch … only in Dubai can you count the Maseratis whizzing by. Another option is to hop on the Dubai ferry behind the Address Hotel, which takes you past the famous Atlantis hotel on the tip of the famous man-made Palm Jumeirah to the Creek in historic Bur Dubai. 960 1280

Jorg Greuel  

Day at the Meydan Racecourse

Day at the Meydan Racecourse

You don't have to follow horse racing to enjoy a day at the spectacular Meydan Racecourse. Inside this futuristic stadium, there's room for 60,000 spectators as well as a 5-star hotel and IMAX theater. The racing season starts to heat up in January and culminates in this year's 20th annual Dubai World Cup -- the world's richest horse race -- with prize money of nearly $30 million! 960 1280

MARWAN NAAMANI  

Get Lost in Dubai's Shopping Mecca

Get Lost in Dubai's Shopping Mecca

The world's largest mall -- based on total square feet -- boasts a staggering 1,200 stores, as well as a massive aquarium and Olympic-sized ice rink. Its gallery-like 4 floors are divided into "precincts" ranging from high-end European labels to athletic wear. With a cinema, indoor theme parks like SEGA Republic and DubaiDino, the 155-million-year-old skeleton of a Diplodocus Longus dinosaur in the Grand Atrium, it's also an ideal destination for the entire family. 960 1280

Amanda Hall  

Indulge in Dubai's Dining Scene

Indulge in Dubai's Dining Scene

If you have only one unforgettable meal in Dubai, then you're doing it wrong. Indulge at at least one mind-blowing restaurant like the unique underwater restaurant Al Mahara. After stepping off an elevator disguised as a submarine, diners pass through a dazzling gold-leaf-lined tunnel to sit around a beautiful, circular aquarium filled with baby sharks and other sea life and dine on line-caught sea bass and lobster dishes that happily live up to the hype. 2 more must-dos in terms of food: curry at Ravi's, a Pakistani dive with a cult following, and Friday brunch, which marks the first day of the weekend in the UAE and typically consists of an all-inclusive, multi-hour extravagant banquet. 960 1280

Hasselblad  

Ski Dubai

Ski Dubai

When you step into the Mall of the Emirates, you expect to find just about everything -- but the first-ever indoor ski resort in the middle of the desert still comes as a bit of a shock to the senses. As you take the chair lift to the top of the manmade snow-covered mountain, you'll see skiing, snowboarding and tobogganing below. Whether you're used to the bunny slope or black diamonds, Ski Dubai has 5 runs of varying difficulty. Families will be delighted by the colorful igloo and penguin encounters that await in the Snow Park. Afterward, relax with a cup of hot chocolate at the Avalanche Cafe which overlooks the slopes. 960 1280

Mathias Kniepeiss  

View At The Top, Burj Khalifa

View At The Top, Burj Khalifa

Standing on top of the world's tallest skyscraper is a pretty surreal experience to say the least and there is no more magnificent time to step out onto the 124th floor than at dusk. Yes, there will be crowds, but if you buy your ticket in advance online you will save yourself some hassle (and cash) and be treated to one of the most stunning sunset views of Downtown Dubai and the performing fountains below. If you're not one to queue up -- even for a once in a lifetime experience -- instead opt for afternoon tea or an aperitif at the At.mosphere lounge just 2 floors below. 960 1280

AWL Images / Getty Images  

World's Best Travel Tours, hot topics, explore, outdoors and adventure, northern lights, alaska
Alaska: Arctic Ventures

Alaska: Arctic Ventures

Exploring the North Pole may seem surreal. After all, it is the land of the midnight sun and home to polar bears and penguins. But you can also hike in Alaskan rain forest, kayak alongside peaceful coastlines, or relax in luxury as you sail past breathtaking icebergs, pods of orca and breaching humpbacks. 960 1280

Noppawat Tom Charoensinphon / Getty Images  

Burgundy: Wine & Dine &…Bike

Burgundy: Wine & Dine &…Bike

Explore Beaune, the vibrant capital of the Cote d'Or. Then, get off the beaten path -- literally -- as you bike through rolling hills and quaint, friendly towns from vineyard to vineyard. Sip vintages surrounded by the fields in which they were grown, dine in chateaus and enjoy private cellar tours. 960 1280

Matteo Colombo / Getty Images  

Ireland: Castles & Countryside

Ireland: Castles & Countryside

Maybe you're tracing your family roots. Or perhaps you have fantasies of spending the night in a medieval castle. Whatever the reason, if you'd like to start each day with rashers and sausage and end it in a town pub, perhaps cruising along the Irish countryside is just your speed. 960 1280

Paul Harris / Getty Images  

India: Mythology & Mountain Peaks

India: Mythology & Mountain Peaks

The best tours can help you cut through the controlled chaos that typifies India, so you can get the chance to enjoy Darjeeling's famous tea and Bengali sweets, explore ornate temples and Hindu mythology and take in the sunrise over the Himalayas. 960 1280

traveler1116 / Getty Images  

Istanbul: Faraway Family Adventure

Istanbul: Faraway Family Adventure

There's no reason the entire family wouldn't enjoy these classic Turkish experiences like bargaining in the Grand Bazaar, sailing on a gullet -- a Turkish wooden yacht -- and exploring ancient Ephesus. 960 1280

TPopova / Getty Images  

Peru: Land of the Inca

Peru: Land of the Inca

The Incan Trail. Machu Picchu. You need to say little more to conjure up the lost city's spectacular ruins. But with archaeological sites like the Sacred Valley, the cities of Cusco and Lima and the natural wonders of the Amazon rainforest, highlights abound. 960 1280

Spaces Images / Getty Images  

Costa Rica: For Outdoor Adventurers

Costa Rica: For Outdoor Adventurers

Whether you're gliding through a cloud forest on a zip-line, whitewater rafting or rappelling down waterfalls, there's plenty of adventure to be had in Costa Rica. If you're looking for “pura vida” (the good life), stay at a luxury eco-lodge, soak in natural hot springs and stroll by an active volcano. 960 1280

DreamPictures / Shannon Faulk / Getty Images  

Indonesia: The Life Aquatic

Indonesia: The Life Aquatic

If you live for underwater adventures, imagine scuba diving in paradise -- or in this case, Raja Ampat, in Indonesia's West Papua province. Sail routes once reserved for intrepid explorers and scientists to discover untouched coral, wildlife like the impressive Komodo dragon and breathtaking Hindu temples. 960 1280

Image Source / Stuart Westmorland / Getty Images  

South Georgia Island: Antarctic Oasis

South Georgia Island: Antarctic Oasis

One of the most remote places on Earth, South Georgia is located 850 miles east of the Falkland Islands. You can cruise by more than 160 glaciers, tens of thousands of penguins on Salisbury Plain and in St. Andrews Bay, and, if you're lucky, the enormous southern elephant seal, the largest of its species. 960 1280

Mint Images / David Schultz / Getty Images  

Kenya: Eco-Friendly Safaris

Kenya: Eco-Friendly Safaris

Kenya is the perfect backdrop for your dream African safari, especially if you witness the Great Migration, when over 2 million zebra, wildebeest and antelope migrate from the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania to the greener pastures of Kenya's Masari Mara National Reserve. Home to one of the largest elephant populations in East Africa, you can visit with adorable baby elephants at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust Elephant Orphanage. 960 1280

Joe Austin/ NIS/ Minden Pictures / Getty Images  

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