Editors' Picks: Best Post-Graduation Trips

You may never have to take another final again. Just let that sink in for a minute. Then let your mind wonder to your next adventure, wherever that may be. There is rarely a time in your life when you will feel more accomplished, relieved or free than after you receive that diploma. Whether you crave a little R&R, 1 last hurrah or the chance to finally see the world, these editor-approved destinations for recent graduates won’t disappoint. Let’s just hope you can push that job’s start date.

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For Adventure Seekers: Telluride, CO

For Adventure Seekers: Telluride, CO

Experienced skiers can take it to the next level by spending the day heli-skiing, which, like it sounds, is downhill skiing on a course accessible only by helicopter. For $1,235, Telluride Helitrax, in operation since 1982, offers daylong excursions that include 6 ski runs, a guide, equipment and food. Helicopters take groups of 4 to an elevation of at least 10,000 feet, where skiers are surrounded by majestic backcountry terrain while on empty slopes. If that’s not enough, customized tours are also available. 960 1280

Jeff Cricco/Telluride Helitrax  

For Culture Vultures: NYC

For Culture Vultures: NYC

Start the clock by catching a matinee of Hamilton, Broadway’s hottest hip-hop musical about founding father Alexander Hamilton. Plan ahead, since tickets tend to sell out months in advance. Cap off the day with an adults-only sleepover at the American Museum of Natural History, where guests can enjoy live music, presentations and the chance to explore the museum all night long. The $350 price includes a buffet dinner, cots and more. 960 1280

© AMNH\R. Mickens  

For Girlfriend Getaways: Miami

For Girlfriend Getaways: Miami

Sunshine, spa treatments and drinks are all that are needed for a quick getaway, and one can find all that and more at The Standard in Miami Beach. It’s removed from the madding crowd, and guests can luxuriate in a Turkish Hamam and take a yoga classes by the water. Leave time to head to nearby Miami Beach for dinner at celeb hotspot Matador Room, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s latest Miami venture offering Latin-fusion fare. Sit on the terrace for ocean views and lush, foliage surroundings. Follow up with poolside drinks at the sophisticated Delano South Beach, where you can camp out in a lantern-lit private cabana before it’s time to head home. 960 1280
For Foodies: Culinary Institute of America: California, New York, Texas

For Foodies: Culinary Institute of America: California, New York, Texas

Boasting such notable alum as Anthony Bourdain and Cat Cora, many a foodie has daydreamed about enrolling at one of the nation’s best culinary schools. While that’s not realistic for most, what is possible is taking a half-day cooking class. Each location offers a bevy of year-round options, from global street food to holiday favorites. Classes include lunch, CIA apron and chef’s hat. For the ultimate experience, 2- to 5-day boot camps are a must for when time isn’t of the essence. Of course, the upside to taking an afternoon class, particularly at the CIA in California, is the opportunity to have dinner just a quick 20-minute ride away at French Laundry, considered one of the top 10 restaurants in the US. The prix fixe chef’s tasting menu costs $295 -- be sure to book 2 months ahead. 960 1280

By Ɱ (Own work) [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons  

For Family-Friendly Fun: Mohonk Mountain House

For Family-Friendly Fun: Mohonk Mountain House

This sprawling, fairy tale-esque castle in the scenic Hudson Valley literally has something for everyone. Rock climbing, horseback riding and golf are among the warmer-weather options at Mohonk Mountain House, while ice skating, snow tubing and cross-country skiing are among the winter activities. There’s also an award-winning spa, watersports and a host of fitness classes. (And that’s still not everything.) Trying to cram as many activities as possible into 24 hours is a worthwhile challenge. 960 1280

By Fred Hsu on en.wikipedia (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons  

For Romantics: New Orleans

For Romantics: New Orleans

New Orleans has no shortage of romantic neighborhoods and experiences, and the food-and-music scene has some of the best ways to experience them. Start with a late breakfast at Café Amelie and sit outside in the greenery-filled courtyard for a secret garden feel. Stroll through the historic French Quarter to work up an appetite for the Creole jazz brunch at Muriel’s Jackson Square, or simply get a drink at Muriel’s bordello-themed Séance Lounge (ask about the ghost). Don’t miss dinner at top-rated French restaurant August before collapsing into a plush seat at the intimate Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse 960 1280
For Shopaholics: Los Angeles

For Shopaholics: Los Angeles

Bypass the ubiquitous luxury chains on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills and head to unique boutiques selling hard-to-find favorites. Fred Segal, Maxfield, Kitson and Madison are among the old-guard standouts, selling on-trend, high-end designer wares and more. Visit newer trendsetters include Opening Ceremony and TENOVERSIX for well-curated selections of the hottest designers and up-and-comers. Shoe addicts will find nirvana among the wall of shoes at Kathryn Amberleigh. Fans of the offbeat shouldn’t miss Just One Eye, a conceptual space that’s part art gallery, part fashion boutique, or The Well, a combination boutique/hair salon that’s perfect for multitaskers. Before heading out, pop into Poketo for one-of-a-kind gifts for everyone back home. 960 1280

Courtesy of Poketo  

For the Unconventional: Quebec City

For the Unconventional: Quebec City

Even though Quebec City is impossibly charming in the warmer months, it’s downright magical in the winter. Warm up with high tea at the iconic Château Frontenac Hotel in Old Quebec. While it’s tempting to stay there, the highlight is spending a night at Hotel de Glace, a seasonal ice hotel just outside downtown Quebec, and the only one in North America. Book the Adventure Package and squeeze in dogsledding for extra bragging rights. 960 1280
For Animal Lovers: Grand Canyon

For Animal Lovers: Grand Canyon

It’s one thing to experience the Grand Canyon from a prime viewing spot, and another from the saddle of a mule. While 3-hour trips are available, opt for the once-in-a-lifetime overnight ride to Phantom Ranch, a rustic lodge located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The trail ride each way takes about 5 hours and includes rest stops and lunch.  960 1280
For Sports Fanatics: Super Bowl

For Sports Fanatics: Super Bowl

Yes, Super Bowl tickets are notoriously hard to score, even when it’s not the 50th anniversary of the game. Luckily, it’s not impossible with QuintEvents, the official provider of Super Bowl packages. To really go over the top for this year’s game in Santa Clara, CA, on Feb. 7, choose the “On the Fifty” package, which nets you seats on the 50-yard line, the chance to meet players and cheerleaders and get autographs, and access to a private club serving gourmet food and drink before, during and after the game. Best of all, this package can be purchased for just the day of the game -- for a mere $13,000.    960 1280
Sexy Style: New York Fashion Week

Sexy Style: New York Fashion Week

What’s not sexy about models donned in threads from the biggest designers’ fashion-forward spring collections? Get the hottest ticket in fashion, and check out New York Fashion Week, where we’re sure you’ll spot a few celebrities. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Bar: Le Bain at The Standard

Bar: Le Bain at The Standard

Enjoy a Nutella crepe and adult beverage with some of the most breathtaking views of downtown Manhattan on The Standard hotel's rooftop bar. Le Bain, the penthouse discotheque and rooftop bar, is one of the trendiest spots in NYC’s Meatpacking District, with its crêperie, plunge pool and whimsy decor: a faux grass floor, giant pink waterbeds and waitstaff dressed in tennis outfits. 960 1280

Le Bain at The Standard, High Line  

Food Porn: Drizzled Caramel

Food Porn: Drizzled Caramel

Some say that everything is better with chocolate, but this time of year we think everything tastes better with caramel -- or, better yet, with both! Whether it's fresh-picked apples or frappuccinos, it just wouldn't be fall without the sweet and sticky sauce. 960 1280

Ginny, Flickr  

Festival: Oktoberfest

Festival: Oktoberfest

Celebrate Oktoberfest in Munich, from Sept. 22 to Oct.7. After a couple rounds with friends or family members -- of age -- everything around you looks a little sexier with your “beer goggles” on, right? OK, we don’t condone excessive drinking, but we do approve of fun. And just in case you can’t make it to Munich, we’re sure there’s a local version of the festival celebrated in a bar or beer garden near you. 960 1280

Reuters  

Spa: Dolder Grand, Switzerland

Spa: Dolder Grand, Switzerland

Zurich's Dolder Grand Spa describes itself as “classic tradition with a techno beat.” European and Japanese influences have shaped this sexy Swiss spa, which offers Kotatsu footbaths, steampots, indoor and outdoor pools, mineral water, couches and a solarium. The hottest -- albeit cold -- offering? Snow Paradise, a room that offers large bowls of snow to massage onto your body and your partner's. 960 1280

The Dolder Grand  

Car: Aston Martin DB5

Car: Aston Martin DB5

Travel like 007. It may not be the hot new car, but the Aston Martin DB5 will increase its sexy quotient when the new James Bond flick, Skyfall, opens in theaters this November. We thought we’d give you a couple months lead time to save up enough money to purchase this sleek, silver hot rod -- or you can be content with just watching the car maneuver over and through obstacles during the intense car chase scenes. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Sport: Football

Sport: Football

The American football season starts in September, issuing in a new year of tense, but competitive matchups between rival teams. Regardless of whether you’re rooting for an NFL, college or high school team, fans enjoy eating pregame tailgating food and watching cheerleaders as they pump the crowd up in between plays. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Sexy Slipaway: The Solomon Islands

Sexy Slipaway: The Solomon Islands

An exotic escape fit for royalty? Sign us up! Will and Kate put Tavanipupu on our September radar when they planned a second honeymoon on the private island resort. The romantic night in a handcrafted, but decadent bungalow will be a little piece of paradise for the couple during their busy Diamond Jubilee tour of Southeast Asia. 960 1280

Getty Images  

City: Cartagena, Colombia

City: Cartagena, Colombia

After clamping down on violence and cleaning up crime in the past few years, Cartagena, Colombia, is now the safest city in the country, and is emerging as a trendy hotspot for travelers to Latin America. Cartagenga is a music lover's city, with merengue, salsa and Cuban music pouring from bars, restaurants and city squares. And don't miss the most dangerous thing in the city -- aguardiente, the national anise-flavored drink that packs quite a punch. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Concert: Madonna

Concert: Madonna

Madonna exudes sassy and sexy as she continues her 2012 MDNA world tour this month throughout North America. The Queen of Pop makes stops in NYC, Chicago, DC, Toronto and Vancouver this month. 960 1280

Reuters  

Fall Foliage: Traverse City, MI

Fall Foliage: Traverse City, MI

Everyone looks better in the fall, with the sun’s soft, sexy rays. So grab your honey and a road map, and make it a fall road trip. Our suggestion: Michigan. During September, the Great Lake State’s 19 million acres begin their show of gold, red and orange hues. Make sure you explore areas like Old Mission Peninsula, on the outskirts of Traverse City. This picture says it all. 960 1280

Traverse City Convention & Visitors Bureau  

Exhibit: Universe of Desire

Exhibit: Universe of Desire

Tame on the outside, hot on the inside: That’s the Museum of Sex, on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Inside, you’ll learn just about everything you ever wanted (or cared?) to know about this universal topic of interest. On display this September may be the most scintillating angle of all: what everyday people secretly desire. Discover the answer in “Universe of Desire,” an exhibit that showcases erotic imagery based upon the top-100 internet search results related to sex. Maybe leave mom home for this one. 960 1280

bclinesmith, Flickr  

TV Show: Ghost Adventures

TV Show: Ghost Adventures

What’s hot on Travel Channel in September? Ghost Adventures returns for a new season on Friday, Sept. 14, at 9|8c. Zak Bagans, Nick Groff and Aaron Goodwin kick off the new season with an eerie lockdown at Central Unit prison in Sugar Land, TX. Can you handle the lockdown? 960 1280

  

Restaurant: De Niro's Locanda Verde

Restaurant: De Niro's Locanda Verde

For a hot new restaurant, try actor Robert De Niro’s new restaurant, Locanda Verde, in NYC’s Tribeca neighborhood. The affordable Italian taverna serves a variety of dishes, including grilled octopus, beet and goat cheese raviolini, fire-roasted garlic chicken and blueberry honey upside-down cake. While you’re at it, pair your meal with a tasty cocktail, Italian wine or beer. 960 1280

Noah Fecks  

Music: Monterey Jazz Festival

Music: Monterey Jazz Festival

Spend a weekend in Monterey, CA, to experience the 55th Annual Monterey Jazz Festival, from September 21-23, 2012. The Festival – voted “World’s Best Jazz Festival” by reader of Jazz Times Magazine -- features films, exhibitions, an international shopping bazaar and 8 stages of live jazz entertainment spread throughout the 20-acre fairgrounds. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Iceland

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Iceland

Ben Stiller directs this film adaption of the short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and stars as the hapless dreamer Mitty, who finally takes an adventure outside of his wild imagination. And what an adventure it is -- from jumping out of a helicopter off the coast of Greenland to skateboarding down Iceland’s Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Iceland is taking advantage of the film’s inspiring scenes and is offering Walter Mitty Tours of film locations, skateboards not included. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

The Great Gatsby, Long Island, NY

The Great Gatsby, Long Island, NY

This much-buzzed-about Baz Luhrmann film adaptation of literary classic The Great Gatsby spurred a huge interest this year in Long Island’s Gold Coast, where Gatsby lived in his lavish West Egg mansion. Everyone went gaga for Gatsby this year, including New York’s iconic Plaza Hotel, which invited guests to travel “ceaselessly back into the past” of the opulent Jazz era with their new Gatsby-inspired Fitzgerald Suite. 960 1280

Vince Kish  

Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Hawaii

Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Hawaii

The second installment in the Hunger Games trilogy, Hunger Games: Catching Fire , is doing just that in tourism. Fans are following Katniss’ footsteps traveling to filming locations on Oahu’s North Shore in Hawaii. The dense jungles and natural beaches there were the backdrop for 75th Hunger Games battle-to-the-death. And Kawela Bay, minutes from Turtle Bay resort (where cast stayed during filming), served as the saltwater lake Quell arena in the film. 960 1280

Max Kiesler, flickr  

Big Sur, Big Sur

Big Sur, Big Sur

Based on a Jack Kerouac novel, Sundance film Big Sur portrays the rugged and evocative beauty of California’s Central Coast. You can’t watch the film and not imagine hopping in your car to take a road trip down winding Pacific coast highways, complete with the sun on your face and the wind whipping through your hair. Donning a pair of Beat-inspired dark shades wouldn’t hurt, either. 960 1280

Medioimages/Photodisc  

Gravity, Space Travel

Gravity, Space Travel

After watching Sandra Bullock adrift in space in Gravity, the idea of space travel becomes even more intriguing. Luckily, for those that have the budget, Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic is set to make its inaugural flight to space in 2014. For a mere $250,000, you can finally realize your dream of being an astronaut and travel to the final frontier. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Lee Daniels' The Butler, Washington, DC

Lee Daniels' The Butler, Washington, DC

Lee Daniels’ The Butler depicts the Civil Rights movement from a unique perspective – the White House butler. The man who inspired the film, Eugene Allen, worked in the White House for more than 30 years. Take a detour off the Mall, and celebrate more African American history on a tour of the U Street neighborhood, DC’s cultural center for the African American community from the Civil Rights movement to today. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Inside Llewyn Davis, NYC

Inside Llewyn Davis, NYC

Film and music lovers can’t get enough of Inside Llewyn Davis, the Coen Brothers film that follows the 1960s folk scene in New York’s Greenwich Village. Take the “Greenwich Village Rock Tour” to walk the streets and visit the bars that your favorite musicians, like Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix, once did. Warning: desire to break out in song likely. 960 1280

iStock  

Before Midnight, Greece

Before Midnight, Greece

Greece isn’t a hard sell when it comes to travel. We are reminded of why this Mediterranean paradise is such a hot spot in Before Midnight, the “threequel" to Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. The filming location of Messenia in the southwest Peloponnese Peninsula has been off the radar for tourists. Until this film came out, of course. Sorry, Santorini and Mykonos, we have fallen in love again. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Adore, Australia

Adore, Australia

Adore, an Australian film about 2 old friends falling in love with each other’s son is a provocative tale. And the beaches where it was filmed are just as shocking … in how stunningly beautiful they are. Seal Rocks in New South Wales was the setting for the small town coastal paradise where the son swapping takes place, but the film had us lusting after any beach Down Under. 960 1280

Photographer: Mikulas Jaros  

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, South Africa

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, South Africa

The passing of Nelson Mandela and the release of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, a biopic about Mandela’s struggle to free South Africa, brings even more interest to the places that played an important role in his life. Just off Cape Town, Robben Island, the prison where Mandela was incarnated for almost 2 decades, offers tours to “honor a legacy of forgiveness.” Visiting the tiny cell where the civil rights leader spent so much of his life is sure to be both a powerful and unforgettable experience. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

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