Travel Channel's Most Memorable Moments of 2011

A daring trip to Cuba. An undercover stint in NYC. The surprises didn’t end there in 2011. Check out our roundup of Travel Channel’s most memorable moments of the year.

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bathing suit from around 1895
bathing suit from around 1895

bathing suit from around 1895

There isn’t one article of clothing in history that has caused more of a stir than the bathing suit. It’s hard to imagine now, but this “bathing costume” from around 1895 was considered scandalous in its day. 960 1280

ND/Roger Viollet/Getty Images  

In the early 20th century, a crowd at Washington, DC’s Tidal Basin plays a game of water tennis with the Washington Monument in the background. 960 1280

Bain News Service/Buyenlarge/Getty Images  

first Miss America contestants

first Miss America contestants

The first Miss America contestants pose wearing their sashes over swimsuits on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, NJ. Pictured here (second from left) is Margaret Gorman, Miss District of Columbia who went on to become that year’s national winner. 960 1280

Hulton Archive/Getty Images  

Three models pose in swimsuits in a luxury store’s window in London's West End. 960 1280

Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images  

Models show off backless bathing and beach costumes at a women's wear exhibition at Dorland Hall on London’s Regent Street. 960 1280

Photo by H. F. Davis/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images  

The first modern-day bikini caused quite a stir when it debuted at the Piscine Molitor swimming pool in Paris in 1946. The bikini’s designer, a French automobile engineer named Louis Reard, was unable to find a “respectable” model to wear his bathing suit; the job went to 19-year-old Micheline Bernardini, a nude dancer from the Casino de Paris. 960 1280

Keystone/Getty Images  

Elizabeth Taylor in a 2-piece bathing suit

Elizabeth Taylor in a 2-piece bathing suit

Actress Elizabeth Taylor, 15, shows off a frilly 2-piece bathing suit on a beach. 960 1280

Photo by Bob Landry//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images  

Marilyn Monroe in a 2-piece swimsuit

Marilyn Monroe in a 2-piece swimsuit

Marilyn Monroe reclines on patio furniture in the early 1950s, wearing a 2-piece swimsuit accented by Lucite heels and bangle earrings. 960 1280

Camerique Archive/Getty Images  

Brigitte Bardot sits on the beach during the Cannes Film Festival

Brigitte Bardot sits on the beach during the Cannes Film Festival

French actress Brigitte Bardot sits on the beach during the Cannes Film Festival in 1953. 960 1280

Patrick Morin/RDA/Getty Images  

A group of gymnastic-loving men, women and children pose in swimsuits at Muscle Beach in Santa Monica, CA, in 1956. 960 1280

Gene Lester/Getty Images  

American actress and singer Debbie Reynolds is seen here wearing a 2-piece swimsuit on a beach in the mid-1950s. 960 1280

Getty Images/Getty Images  

Elvis Presley, dressed in swimming trunks, exchanges a passionate kiss with bikini-clad American actress Joan Blackman in a still from the 1961 musical film Blue Hawaii. 960 1280

Paramount Pictures/Courtesy of Getty Images   

Actress Audrey Hepburn, clad in a swimsuit, gracefully settles into a swimming pool in Saint-Tropez during filming of the 1967 film Two for the Road.. 960 1280

Terry O'Neill/Getty Images  

French bombshell Brigitte Bardot wears a bikini in a boat near Saint-Tropez, France, in 1968. 960 1280

Robert Cohen/RDA/Getty Images  

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

American actress Raquel Welch films a scene from One Million Years B.C. in 1966. 960 1280

Hulton Archive/Getty Images  

These 3 women model bikinis on a London street in 1975. 960 1280

Evening Standard/Getty Images  

A promotional shot of British actor Roger Moore (as James Bond) surrounded by female palace guards in bathing suits in the 1983 film Octopussy. 960 1280

United Artists  

Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro

Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro

Young women sunbathe on Brazil's iconic Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro around 1990. 960 1280

Romano Cagnoni/Getty Images  

Britney Spears performs on stage at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards

Britney Spears performs on stage at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards

Britney Spears performs on stage at the 2001 MTV Video Music Awards in New York City in what could be described as a very bold bikini 960 1280

Dave Hogan/Getty Images  

2012 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

2012 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

A model wears a swimsuit during the 2012 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show on Nov. 7, 2012, in New York 960 1280

TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images  

Miss America 2013 pageant

Miss America 2013 pageant

Miss Tennessee Chandler Lawson competes in the swimsuit competition during the Miss America 2013 pageant in Las Vegas. 960 1280

David Becker/Getty Images  

Tour de France’s 100th
Tour de France’s 100th

Tour de France’s 100th

Cycling’s premier annual event marks its 100th anniversary in 2013. The very first Tour de France comprised a 5-stage race, beginning in Paris and stopping in Lyon, Marseille, Bordeaux and Nantes before returning to Paris. Today, the race typically spans 21 days and a total of 2,000 miles; 2013’s Tour de France will start in Corsica, in the city of Porto-Vecchio, and finish at dusk in Paris. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Grand Central’s 100th

Grand Central’s 100th

This megadaddy of rail travel turns 100 in 2013. Spanning 48 acres, the grand Beaux-Arts-designed terminal has risen and fallen (it went into bankruptcy in 1970 and even faced potential demolition), and risen again. Today, the hub is the world’s sixth most visited tourist attraction, according to a Travel + Leisure survey. 960 1280

Katie Hards   

Groundhog Day at 20

Groundhog Day at 20

Thank the 1993 Bill Murray flick for catapulting this furry little guy onto the national scene. 2013 marks the American comedy-turned-classic’s 20th anniversary. Celebrate with a trip to the central Pennsylvania town of Punxsutawney, where thousands have gathered each year since 1886 to await Punxsutawney Phil’s end-of-winter predictions. According to records dating back to 1887, Phil’s been accurate 39% of the time. 960 1280

Getty Images  

125 Years of Nat Geo

125 Years of Nat Geo

Many leaders have had the National Geographic Society to thank for kindling their imagination in exploring the world around them. Among them was America’s 36th president LBJ -- he once said, “My mother brought me up by putting the Bible in my right hand and the National Geographic magazine in my left.” 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Amsterdam’s Big Year

Amsterdam’s Big Year

Amsterdam sees an epic year of milestones ahead: In 2013, Amsterdam marks the 175th birthday of the Artis Royal Zoo, the nation's most famous zoo, which houses 900 species of animals. The Dutch capital is also celebrating the 400th anniversary of its famed Canal Ring, which has given Amsterdam the moniker, "Venice of the North." 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Hitchcock’s The Birds 50th

Hitchcock’s The Birds 50th

One day, without warning, this idyllic coastal town in Sonoma County, CA, was attacked by … the birds! Who can ever look at birds the same way after watching Hitchcock’s suspense-horror classic, which turns 50 in 2013. Mark the occasion with a visit to Bodega Bay, and keep a watchful eye on the sky -- you just never know. 960 1280

iStock  

Harley-Davidson at 110

Harley-Davidson at 110

The freedom of the open road, the need for speed -- this journey began 110 years ago in Milwaukee. In 1903, the granddaddy of American motorcycle manufacturers got its start in a small machine shop, where a 23-year-old engineering genius William Sylvester Harley toiled away. Harley worked on a “motor-cycle” with childhood friend Arthur Davidson; the rest is bad-ass history. 960 1280

iStock  

The Drive-In Turns 70

The Drive-In Turns 70

This icon of American pop culture became official 70 years ago, when a chemical company magnate was granted a patent for his invention: an outdoor theater. From humble beginnings (the first drive-in opened in Pennsauken Township, NJ), the drive-in movie theater peaked in popularity from the late 1950s to early 1960s. You can relive the glory days at retro drive-ins like Sandell Theater in Clarendon, TX. 960 1280

Orange County Archives, flickr  

Lamborghini at 50

Lamborghini at 50

You are what you drive. Who’d want to admit that -- unless, of course, you’re driving this motor-sportin’ beaut. Fifty years ago, the Italian luxury sports car manufacturer got its start in the northern Italian town of Sant'Agata Bolognese. In May 2013, the automaker celebrates by hosting a 700-mile road trip through northern and central Italy. Andiamo! 960 1280

Ben_in_london, flickr  

David Livingstone's 200th

David Livingstone's 200th

“Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” Why, indeed it is: 2013 marks the 200th anniversary of the famed Scottish explorer’s birth. At the age of 27, the young missionary headed for Africa. Fascinated by the continent’s beauty, he went on to spend 30 years in places such as modern-day Botswana and Zambia. In the end, his one regret was that he hadn’t spent enough time with his children. Honor the great doctor’s legacy; take the kids on safari. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Elvis’ Aloha from Hawaii 40th

Elvis’ Aloha from Hawaii 40th

We’re caught in a trap, I can’t walk out … and why would you want to? Not when the setting is the beautiful Aloha State. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the King’s live concert from the capital city of Honolulu. Celebrate Elvis’ love of all things Hawaiian with your own journey to his favorite spots, like Hanauma Bay, featured in his films Blue Hawaii and Paradise, Hawaiian Style. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Emancipation Proclamation's 150th

Emancipation Proclamation's 150th

With a stroke of the pen, Abraham Lincoln opened the door to the eradication of America’s greatest evil. The end of slavery would not come with the simple signing of this executive order on Jan. 1, 1863, but it did make abolition an official goal of the Civil War. Revisit that chapter in the exhibit “Changing America,” at Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History through Sept. 15, 2013. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Gettysburg at 150

Gettysburg at 150

“Four score and 7 years ago …” The passion of Abraham Lincoln’s words, all 272 of them, gave meaning to what history would record as the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. Relive this pivotal moment in US history with a trip to this stretch of southern Pennsylvania, during the 150th anniversary year of the Battle of Gettysburg and the Gettysburg Address. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

I Have a Dream Turns 50

I Have a Dream Turns 50

Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. led the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom; stand in the exact spot where MLK delivered his speech at the Lincoln Memorial. 2013 sees other big civil rights anniversaries, including the 100th birthday of the “first lady of civil rights” Rosa Parks and the 50th anniversary of protests in Birmingham, AL, that triggered a national dialogue about the need for civil rights for African-American citizens. 960 1280

Getty Images  

West Virginia's 150th

West Virginia's 150th

The Mountain State marks its 150th anniversary in 2013. In June 1863, at the height of the Civil War, an expanse of land in the Appalachian Mountain range broke away from the state of Virginia, becoming the only state to form by seceding from the Confederacy. Among West Virginia’s must-see sites is the New River Gorge, a 3,030-foot-long steel arch bridge near Fayetteville, WV. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II

London Celebrates the Queen
Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Diamond Jubilee this year, marking her 60th year as monarch. A weekend of events in June is planned throughout the Commonwealth, culminating in a Royal Air Force flyover and a "Fire of Joy," a celebratory cascade of rifle fire given as a salute by the Queen's Guard.
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Getty Images  

Spider-Man turns 50

Spider-Man turns 50

Spider-Man Turns 50
Spider-Man made his first appearance in comics in 1962, making this his 50th anniversary. The newest Spiderman movie is also set for release this summer -- the perfect birthday gift for Spidey.
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Getty Images  

A War of 1812 reenactment

A War of 1812 reenactment

War of 1812 Bicentennial
The US declared war on Britain 200 years ago, setting off the War of 1812. This year bicentennial celebrations are being held by 10 states, as well as Washington, DC and Ontario.
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Getty Images  

Titanic Exhibit in DC

Titanic Exhibit in DC

100 Years After the Titanic Tragedy
This year marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's sinking, sparking renewed interest in the tragedy. James Cameron's Titanic movie has been rereleased in 3-D, and the National Geographic Museum in Washington, DC, has a new exhibit, "Titanic: 100 Year Obsession," which includes props from the 1997 movie.
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Getty Images  

Arizona celebrates its centennial

Arizona celebrates its centennial

Arizona Celebrates Its Centennial
Arizona has taken on a series of statewide projects to commemorate its centennial. Projects include a documentary following 100 Arizona ranchers whose families have been ranching in the state since 1912 and a new museum that explores what it means to be an Arizonian.
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Thinkstock  

100 years of the Cherry Blossom Festival

100 years of the Cherry Blossom Festival

The National Cherry Blossom Festival
A century ago, Japan gave Washington, DC, a gift of 3,000 cherry blossom trees as a token of friendship. Each year, the US capital is painted pink with the blossoms, which lure visitors from all over the world.
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Thinkstock  

Louisiana's 200th year of statehood

Louisiana's 200th year of statehood

Louisiana's Bicentennial
To commemorate Louisiana's 200th anniversary, the Louisiana Bicentennial Commission has drawn up with a list of 200 free things that visitors can do in the state. These include visiting the state's 180-mile long Creole Nature Trail, which is home to 400 bird species.
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Thinkstock  

Charles Dickens turns 200

Charles Dickens turns 200

Charles Dickens' Birthday
Even though Charles Dickens turned 200 back in February, the party is continuing all year long with a Dickensian exhibit at the Museum of London and a guided tour through Chalk Church, which was featured in Great Expectations.
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Getty Images  

New Mexico's 100th year as a state

New Mexico's 100th year as a state

New Mexico's 100th Year
New Mexico celebrates 100 years of statehood this year. As part of the celebration, the state's governor created the Centennial Children's Legacy Fund, which hopes to improve the education and welfare of New Mexico's children.
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Nicholas_T, flickr  

Golden Gate Bridge celebrates 75 years

Golden Gate Bridge celebrates 75 years

The Golden Gate Bridge Turns 75
For the Golden Gate Bridge's 75th anniversary in May, San Francisco is going all out with a day-long festival that will celebrate the history of the bridge and the culture of the city -- all culminating in a fireworks grand finale.
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Geoff Stearns, flickr  

The Space Needle opened 50 years ago

The Space Needle opened 50 years ago

The Space Needle's 50th Anniversary
Fifty years ago, when the Space Needle opened at the Seattle World's Fair, it was called "The Space Cage." It was built in just 1 year and 4 days.
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Thinkstock  

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