Travel's Best Amusement Parks and Water Parks 2014
From Tokyo’s DisneySea to Tennessee’s Dollywood, our advisors handpicked the most thrilling theme parks for our family fun list, Travel's Best Amusement and Water Parks 2014.
Epcot at Walt Disney World, OrlandoTheme parks aren’t just for kids, especially ones like Epcot at Walt Disney World. "While it has fun and thrilling attractions for the whole family, including Test Track, Mission: SPACE, Soarin', Spaceship Earth, etc., the real attractions at Epcot are the World Showcase's 11 countries, where you can sample food and drinks from Germany, Mexico, Norway, Canada, Japan, Italy, France...," says Alvey. In the fall, Epcot's World Showcase transforms into the International Food & Wine Festival, an event featuring food and drink samples from nearly 30 different countries. 960 1280
Aquaventure, Atlantis Paradise Island, BahamasWhile the region's beautiful beaches might beckon you to the Bahamas, your kids will be in paradise at the largest water park in the Caribbean, Aquaventure at Atlantis. A free perk for overnight guests of the Atlantis resort, the water park has it all: a gentle lazy river, exciting rapid rides and multiple water slides that take guests on huge vertical drops, around 5-story corkscrews and along twisting water coasters. "Kids will love jungle-themed slides and fountains, as well as Splasher's, a Mayan-themed water playground that’s perfect for the smallest guests," adds Gifford. 960 1280
Schlitterbahn, Kansas CityGet ready for the world’s tallest waterslide, set to open at Schlitterbahn in summer 2014. According to Insane Coaster Wars producer Steve VanDis, the excitement is building for this one. "This 17-story waterslide will be the tallest waterslide in the world, with just the construction of this massive coaster dominating the skyline," he says. Those not so keen on stomach-hurling rides may be more comfortable floating on the lazy river or relaxing in a private beach cabana (which you can reserve ahead of time) while watching the kids play on 13 mini-slides. Looking to save money? Pack a picnic (you can bring your own food and drinks into the park) and grab a table near Henry’s Hideaway so you can have a breather while the kids play nearby, suggests VanDis. 960 1280
Hersheypark, Hershey, PAChocolate lovers of all ages will be in heaven at Hershey Park. Family travel expert and founder of Kidventurous.com, Erin Gifford says, "You can listen to singing cows and learn how chocolate is made from bean to bar at Chocolate World before riding multiple roller coasters and floating along a lazy river just next door at Hersheypark." Before you go, download the free mobile app to plan your day and navigate the park. While you might be here for the free chocolate samples, your kids won’t want to miss 3 new rides just for them, including the Cocoa Cruiser, a pint-sized roller coaster. 960 1280
Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, TennesseeCalling all Dolly Parton and country music fans! Nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Dollywood combines a family-fun atmosphere with down-home country music and fare, including a new lemonade stand featuring over 300 flavors. Kreischer says Dollywood is his favorite family-friendly park, and a perfect spot for a family reunion. Dollywood hosts 5 annual festivals in 2014, including the popular Barbeque & Bluegrass festival that pairs the best barbecue in the South with the biggest names in bluegrass (May 24 -June 8). Fair warning, don’t expect to see Dolly here in person, but you can visit Dolly’s Smoky Mountain Home, an attraction modeled after the country singer’s childhood home. 960 1280
Noah’s Ark, Wisconsin Dells, WisconsinWhen it comes to water parks, Kreischer’s pick is Noah's Ark, the largest water park in the US located in Wisconsin Dells, WI, and for one simple reason: Scorpion's Tail! "This is a ride you have to ride multiple times just to figure out what is happening to your body. You start in a coffin-like capsule, then the floor drops out from underneath you, and you freefall for roughly 40 to 50 feet before you're flipped upside down and around in the high-speed, G pulling loop. Before you know it you're squirted out for the masses with a look of shock on your face as they giggle and see you try to figure out what just happened," says Kreischer, who rode this ride over 20 times the first day it opened. Don’t miss trying to hang 10 on the park's newest attraction, Surfing Safari. Or for gentler rides, there’s Bumper Boats and several lazy rivers to relax on in family-size tubes. 960 1280
Busch Gardens, VirginiaDon’t have the time or money to take the family to Europe? Head to Busch Gardens for a taste of the "Old World" culture in Williamsburg, VA, which features attractions like Escape from Pompeii, Loch Ness Monster and the 3-D ride, Europe in the Air. There’s more here than just the coasters according to VanDis. "Whether you’re here for the annual Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival or just enjoying the food stands and eateries, the food is always amazing. I love the BBQ spot and I try to stop by every time I’m there," he says. Steve’s all-time favorite coaster? Griffon. At over 200 feet high, it’s still the fastest dive coaster in the world, reaching speeds over 70 mph. Just plan on eating after riding this one. 960 1280
Tokyo DisneySea, Japan"There is nothing like Tokyo DisneySea anywhere else on the planet. The moment you step foot inside the park you are transported to another world unlike any other Disney park you've ever seen, with some of the best themed environments ever created," says Robb Alvey, theme park expert, Insane Coaster Wars. Attractions like Journey to the Center of the Earth (a thrilling voyage through the park's centerpiece volcano); a Japanese version of Tower of Terror; 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; a section dedicated to The Little Mermaid, and the Raging Spirits roller coaster make up just a handful of the unique Disney rides and attractions found at this park. 960 1280
Cedar Point, OhioOur resident daredevil Bert Kreischer, host of Trip Flip, has visited amusement parks all around the world, but Cedar Point, located in Sandusky, OH, remains his number one pick. Cedar Point boasts to be the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World “ with 72 rides, including 17 roller coasters and more than 10 miles of roller coaster track. "Hands-down, no questions asked, the number 1 thrill park in the world. They have more intense rides per square inch than anywhere I've ever been in my entire life," says Kreischer. For an unforgettable "race to the sky" in 17 seconds, ride the accelerator roller coaster, Top Thrill Dragster. Or test your vocal chords on the newest ride opening this summer, Pipe Scream, a thrill ride that careens over 302 feet of track, flying 43 feet above the midway at 43 mph. 960 1280
Blizzard Beach at Walt Disney World, OrlandoWalt Disney World has more to offer than just its 4 main parks – there is also a water park you can’t miss during your stay, too. "Themed as a 'ski resort that is melting' this water park stands out as my favorite water park in the world," says Alvey. There is something for everyone here. For thrill seekers, there is Summit Plummet, once the world's tallest water slide, and for families there are many different attractions including Teamboat Springs, Alvey’s favorite "family raft ride." 960 1280
Best Ballpark FoodSteering away from the ballpark classics (i.e. peanuts hot dogs French fries) we've got our eye on the best ballpark food at Washington DC's Nationals Park stadium: the roasted cauliflower sandwich from Chef Mike Isabella's G. "There is no better bite during a ballgame than a sandwich from G" says Nevin Martell. "Choose from a rag?-rich chicken Parmesan accented with Thai basil or a roasted cauliflower soaked with poppy paprika lemon vinaigrette" add Martell. The roasted cauliflower sandwich packs a flavorful punch especially for vegetarians or vegans looking for something delightful at the game. You're welcome! 960 1280
Best Ice Cream ShopWe're taking you back in time to the heyday of shave ice but this time with a twist: it's accompanied by ice cream! Our pick for best ice cream shop in the summer is Matsumoto on Hawaii's North Shore. Established in 1951 Matsumoto provides over 1000 shave ices to tourists each year. "Make sure you get with ice cream underneath. Will change your life" says Chef Michael Voltaggio. Who doesn't love a little ice accompanied by cream? 960 1280
Best Seafood RestaurantSummers in the Northeast automatically mean that it's time for fresh lobster. Our pick for best seafood restaurant to get said lobster is the adorable Beach Plum Restaurant (connected to The Beach Plum Inn) located in the small town of Menemsha in Martha's Vineyard MA overlooking Menemsha Harbor. "Chef Chris Fischer grows his own vegetables at his Beetlebung Farm. The food is fresh delicious and not too fussy. You can watch the fishing boats come in with their daily haul" adds Peden and Munk. 960 1280
Best Brunch SpotPlump tomatoes certainly say summer and eating them when they are green and fried is a Southern tradition (also eating them outside in the summer sun is a must). Fried green tomatoes are served at Baltimore's legendary brunch spot Miss Shirley's which has locations in Baltimore's Inner Harbor and a few short minutes from Annapolis Harbor. "They've got just the right amount of tang inside and savory crunch outside" says Robin Bennefield. "For a twist on eggs Benedict have them with mini crab cakes and poached eggs dusted with Maryland's Old Bay seasoning. You'll need to walk off Miss Shirley's hearty portions with a stroll along the shimmering harbor." 960 1280
Best (Summer) Restaurant with a ViewSummer can mean a lot of things, but to us it means shorts, flip flops and burgers. And there is no better place to find this than at Le Tub in Hollywood, FL. While you're sinking your teeth into one of their critically acclaimed burgers, enjoy a gorgeous, "Why don't I live here?" view of the Intracoastal Waterway. "You'll gladly wait a well-worth-it hour for a burger as you sip a cold beer overlooking the water, watching mega yachts cruise by," says Robyn Lindars. 960 1280
Best BBQWe probably need to create an entire "Best of Barbecue" list to tackle this one but Southern barbecue is at its finest at Southern Soul Barbeque on charming St. Simons Island GA. Their juicy slow-smoked chicken pairs perfectly with their Hoppin' John (black-eyed peas and rice) collard greens and cornbread. "Sit on one of their outdoor picnic benches or grab your BBQ to go and head to one of the many beach areas (just 5 minutes away)" says Danielle "Diva Q" Dimovski. "It is like a mini vacation as you smell the Atlantic Ocean and the delicious wafts of barbecue smoke from one of their many pits" she adds. 960 1280
Best Food TruckFrom Washington DC to California there are some "out-of-this-world" food trucks! But "1 truck has never escaped my mind -- Kogi BBQ Taco Truck" says Rani Robinson-Kiganda. Located in Los Angeles Kogi jams an incredible amount of flavor into each bite of its tacos and burritos. "I highly recommend the chicken taco and the sliders -- what used to be a 'special' occurrence on the menu and has since become a permanent menu option. Order either the short rib slider or replace it with a meat of your choice (chicken please!)" adds Robinson-Kiganda. Three different trucks are positioned from Long Beach to Burbank in LA County from Monday to Friday. Follow the Kogi BBQ Taco Truck on Twitter @kogibbq. 960 1280
Best Bar FoodWhen choosing the best bar food spot we really had to concentrate on location. There are some great bars out there but Big Sur's Nepenthe made the cut with its stunning mountain views of the California countryside. "I'm one of those beat travelers who stop at Nepenthe in Big Sur after a day of hiking for a few simple pleasures: a glass or 2 of wine from Monterey County and some California-made snacks" says Casey Barber. "Order Nepenthe's Laura Chenel goat cheese and creamy roasted Gilroy garlic while taking in the 360-degree views from the mountain perch of the restaurant's outdoor terrace" adds Barber. 960 1280
Best Food FestivalNearly every state in America hosts a State Fair each year and with that comes irresistible fair foods. The Minnesota State Fair made our list as one of the best. When it comes down to it it's a massive food fest with nearly 1000 vendors offering favorites like fried cheese curds jumbo buckets of double-dipped French fries giant melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookies grilled pork chops on a stick and classics like hamburgers and hot dogs. "Every year I start every day at the fair with a real natural casing German-style foot long hot dog with mustard grilled onions and sauerkraut" says Andrew Zimmern. 960 1280
Best Place for PieUsing only fresh seasonal ingredients Dangerously Delicious Pies (2 locations in DC 1 in Baltimore MD) quickly rose to the top of our "Best Place for Pie" list. Order summer classics like cherry strawberry blueberry and their noteworthy Key lime pie or go for something authentic -- the Baltimore Bomb pie. "Dangerously Delicious Pies has a unique pie that is stupidly addictive. Berger cookies thick with fudge are melted into a vanilla chess filling to make up the gooey Baltimore Bomb" says Amy McKeever. 960 1280
Travel's Best Summer Foods 2014 10 Photos
Everest Base Camp Trek, Nepal (Hiking Adventure)Trekking in the shadow of the ice-clad Himalayan summits -- for avid hikers, scaling these peaks of legends is a dream come true. “The sights, sounds and culture of Nepal surround you like no place on the planet,” says Justin Wood, travel exec with REI Adventures, “your psyche will be forever changed.” On the trail, you pass black-and-white yaks with ornate woven harnesses and clanging bells, as well as singing children and locals carrying unimaginable loads of supplies bound for their remote villages. The best time to trek to Everest Base Camp is October through November for clear dry weather, but the trail will be full of trekkers. If you’re looking for more solitude, consider March through April, when you’ll find cloudy skies but fewer hikers. 960 1280
US Route 50, Nevada (Road Trip Adventure)Nicknamed “The Loneliest Road in America,” US Route 50 begins just past Lake Tahoe, CA, and ends at the Utah state line. In the 409-mile stretch between Fallon, NV, and Delta, UT, alone, there are only 3 towns. Road tripper and documentary filmmaker Allison Otto, says, “This route is beautiful in its austerity, offers numerous photo ops, traverses several large desert valleys and 17 mountain passes -- in some cases reaching altitudes of more than 7,000 feet.” This route was constructed over a historic corridor first used by the Pony Express; today, enjoy several must-see sites along the way, including the Berlin-Ichthyosaur State Park and the singing sand of Sand Mountain, as well as the old mining town of Ely. Take a detour south along Route 6 to NV-375, aka the Extraterrestrial Highway that passes the alleged location of mysterious Area 51. 960 1280
Djibouti (Water Sport Adventure)You may have never heard of Djibouti, but if you’re looking for an amazing water adventure this tiny country -- located on the Horn of Africa -- is about as epic as it gets. “Djibouti sits on the Gulf of Aden, which is home to warm, clear waters that are full of pristine reefs and shipwrecks that have yet to be overrun by the diving masses,” says Shane Reynolds, founder of Color Earth. “Marine life is plentiful and the biggest attraction, literally, are whale sharks.” Seasonally these gentle giants settle in to feed here, providing divers the opportunity to share their space, all without the crowds like in other destinations such as Cancun. Djibouti is the ultimate water adventure experience. There’s no other destination in the world that provides scuba diving inside the rift that separates Asia and Africa. 960 1280
Andalusia, Spain (Camping Adventure)Spend a night underneath the stars in Andalusia, Spain. Most people wouldn’t know it, but this area is a hot glamping spot. Sleep in a tricked-out tipi at Altiplano Tipis or in a hand-crafted luxury yurt at Hooting Owl Yurt Holidays. The more adventurous campers who like to rough it should head to Desfiladero de los Gaitanes National Park. “The rock climbing and hiking here is great,” says Matthew Karsten, adventure travel expert and blogger for ExpertVagaBond.com. “Plus the famous, but steep Caminito del Rey trail is located right outside the Park,” he says. Only in the south of Spain is it possible to go camping on the majestic snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains, then travel an hour to the Mediterranean coast and pitch your tent on a beautiful, sunny beach in Malaga. 960 1280
Pacific Coast Highway 1 (Cycling Adventure)See the beauty of the Pacific Coast from the seat of your bicycle. "Pedaling down California's famous Highway 1, surrounded by towering forests and endless coastline is a cyclist’s dream," says avid cyclist and travel journalist Ryan Van Duzer. The epic journey starts along the breathtaking Olympic Peninsula in Washington State and goes all the way down to the sunny beaches of Southern California in San Diego. "My favorite sections are the redwood forests in Northern California, including the mind-blowing beautiful coastline in Big Sur, and being able to dig your feet into the sand along the beaches in LA,” he adds. Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park and Hearst Castle are other must-see sites that cyclists will find along this amazing pilgrimage that showcases The Golden State’s history and diverse landscapes. 960 1280
Yosemite National Park- California (Family Adventure)This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Yosemite Grant Act, which paved the way for the famed national park to come. Home to wildlife, glaciers, waterfalls, valleys, granite domes, cliffs, lakes and wilderness, Yosemite is an ecological wonderland. “Families have a buffet of activities at their disposal, including biking, backpacking, camping, fishing, bird watching, rock climbing and horseback riding,” says Tawanna Browne Smith, travel expert and founder of Mom’s Guide to Travel. “Stay overnight and camp out in a tent, relax in a cabin at Curry Village or enjoy a luxury stay at the AAA Four-Diamond Ahwahnee hotel.” More than 150 activities are planned throughout the year to commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s signing of the Yosemite Grant Act to protect the Yosemite Valley and Mariposa Grove. 960 1280
Fraser Island, Queensland, Australia (Eco-Friendly Adventure)Just off the coast of Queensland, <a href="http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/beaches/articles/fraser-island-australia">Fraser Island</a> is ideal for an all-encompassing eco-friendly adventure. It is the biggest sand island in the world, and home to a wide range of animal and plant life. Visitors can take in the sights of this phenomenal giant sand system on a 4-wheel drive adventure; hire an Aboriginal tour guide to discover their connection to the island; or escape the heat by swimming in one of the many lakes around the island. “Swamp wallabies, echidnas, possums and sugar gliders hide within the bush and a native dingo population -- said to be the purest breed alive today -- roam freely,” says Linda McCormick, travel writer and editor. Staying on Fraser Island can be as exciting -- or as luxurious -- as you wish. “No matter where you stay or what you do,” says McCormick, “it’s certain you’ll be wowed by this impressive natural habitat.” 960 1280
Ubatuba, Brazil (Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventure)As host country of the <a href="http://www.travelchannel.com/destinations/brazil/photos/brazil-2014-world-cup-cities-tour">2014 World Cup</a>, Brazil has been top of mind for travelers and sports lovers alike in recent months. Escape the throngs of soccer fans, and embark on an underwater adventure around the coastal town of Ubatuba, in Sao Paulo state. “Isolated beaches line the coast, and beds of coral and islands dot the surrounding waters, making the region heaven for scuba divers and snorkelers,” says Valerie Conners, travel writer and expert. “Find a tour operator to take you into the pristine waters of Ilha Anchieta, Ilha Vitória and Ilha do Prumirim,” she adds. In addition to underwater rock formations, divers will see caverns, colorful corals, plenty of dolphins and even an underwater statue of researcher Jacques Cousteau. 960 1280
Skydiving in Orange, Virginia (Extreme Adventure)Go local to experience extreme adventure in your own backyard. “I’ve gone paragliding off Pedra Bonita in Rio, but sometimes you don’t have to travel thousands of miles away to experience extreme adventure,” says Kwin Mosby, managing producer for TravelChannel.com. His suggestion? Experience the adrenaline rush of skydiving with local companies like Skydive Orange, the largest tandem skydiving center in the Northern Virginia, Washington, DC, and Maryland area.” Skydive from 13,500 feet in the air with experienced instructors. And while you’re in freefall, make sure you take in the unpolluted, country-fresh air and the awe-inspiring Blue Ridge Mountains off in the distance. 960 1280
The Pantanal, Brazil (Wildlife Adventure)The Pantanal is hands down the hottest and best wildlife safari destination outside of Africa Africa, and with the latest photos of jaguars taking down caimans on riverbanks dominating the internet, it's not hard to see why. The wildlife sightings get better and better each year. “On any trip, you can expect to see several rare and endangered wildlife species, such as giant river otters, neotropical river otters, giant anteaters, tamanduas, crab-eating Fox and Tyra -- a type of honey badger,” says Jessica Pociask, owner of WANT Expeditions. “You can easily expect to see up to 50 species of birds in one day.” See beautiful birds like hyacinth macaws, toucans and herons. This is a not-to-be missed destination if you’re a wildlife photographer. 960 1280
Travel's Best Adventures 2014 10 Photos
Out-of-This-World Views: The Lasso, SD, to Devil’s Tower, WYTV host Don Wildman chose the 110-mile loop from Rapid City, SD, to Devil’s Tower, WY, as one of the country's best road trips. While Wildman was brave enough to cover the Badlands during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, he says it’s just as memorable to travel by car, since either way you’ll drive through deep forests and thrilling mountain vistas. If you’re not brave enough to ride a Harley like Wildman, you can at least follow in his footsteps and stop at the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum in South Dakota.
"Maybe you’ll even have a close encounter to write home about,” adds Wildman; Devil’s Tower is the site where the iconic alien landing scene was filmed in the movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. 960 1280
Off-Road Adventure: Salar de Uyuni, BoliviaFor the intrepid road tripper, Bolivia offers off-road adventures across otherworldly landscapes. “The world’s largest salt flat, Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni is a surefire, natural amazement,” says Don Wildman, host of Mysteries at the Museum. After a short flight south from La Paz, Bolivia, a number of skilled tour companies will house you in a hotel constructed entirely of salt and then drive you out to experience extraordinary visuals not to be missed in this life, adds Wildman.
While the salt flats are the smoothest “road” you’re likely to drive on, keep in mind you’re at an altitude of 12,500 feet, so take measures to prevent altitude sickness. 960 1280
Unexpected Fall Foliage: Glacier National Park, MontanaOne of the most iconic drives in the country, Montana's “Going to the Sun Road,” is a true bucket list drive not to be missed, says RoadTrippers.com CEO and founder James Fisher. The road spans a breathtaking 50 miles of Glacier National Park's most beautiful twists and turns. Considered an engineering marvel, the road was completed in the fall of 1932, after workers blew through half a million pounds of explosives for its construction.
Jackson Glacier Overlook, between Logan Pass and St. Mary offers the park's best views of a glacier from the road. And while Montana might not be the first place that comes to mind for viewing fall foliage, we suggest taking a drive here in autumn to witness the dazzling color show. 960 1280
Castles, Caves and Cheese: Cheddar Gorge, Somerset, EnglandIt’s no surprise that Fisher, born and raised in the English countryside, also picks a road trip in the United Kingdom. It all starts at a castle, says Fisher: Tintagel Castle, located high atop the rugged coast of Cornwall. Fisher advises then taking the scenic route to Bath, past the fishing village of Boscastle, which dates back to the 1500s. The gorge itself is one of England's most interesting areas, a land of witches, caves and waterfalls.
Fisher adds, “But most importantly it is home to the original, cave-matured, cheddar cheese.” See the cheese being made by the town’s only remaining cheesemakers at Cheddar Gorge Cheese Factory, followed by free tastings of the town’s namesake. 960 1280
Mountains and Mining Towns: The San Juan Skyway, ColoradoNicknamed the "Road to the Sky," the San Juan Skyway loops through the heart of southern Colorado's towering San Juan Mountains and is a "must-do" for road tripping fans, says filmmaker, photographer and road tripper, Allison Otto. The Skyway passes through old Colorado mining towns like Ouray, Telluride, and Silverton, climbs to an elevation of more than 14,000 feet and circles down to the ancient cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde National Park.
“The views are dazzling, especially in the late summer/early fall, but be careful along the cliffside-clinging stretch known as the ‘The Million Dollar Highway,’ where there are parts of the road that lack guardrails," adds Otto. 960 1280
Adventure South of the Border: Creel to Batopilas, MexicoSkip the touristy beaches of Mexico and take an adventurous road trip instead. Otto suggests driving from the Mexican town of Creel to Batopilas: “This is an amazing white-knuckle, eye-popping drive to the base of Mexico's Copper Canyon, which is actually a series of 20 canyons formed over the years by 6 rivers,” says Otto. The narrow, mostly dirt road begins in Creel, which has a frontier feel, and ends in Batopilas, a sleepy old silver mining town at the base of the canyon.
There are no guardrails on this route and drivers can expect to weave through a few cattle, donkeys and goats along the way. “The views are truly breathtaking, though, and Batopilas, which was founded around 1632, is definitely worth a visit and a perfect base for day hikes in the canyon,” adds Otto. 960 1280
Beaches and Leaf Peeping: Michigan's Gold Coast“Leaves, lighthouses, and sugary beaches! New England? Nope: Michigan!” reveals Robert Firpo-Cappiello, executive editor of BudgetTravel.com. Treat yourself to a 3-day autumn road trip starting in Grand Rapids, MI, where you can soak up serious art, public gardens and craft beer, suggests Firpo-Cappiello. Drive along the “Gold Coast” highway west to the jaw-dropping shoreline of Lake Michigan. “From Grand Haven down to Saugatuck and on to South Haven, you'll have a great weekend and bring home bragging rights for having 'discovered' some of the finest beaches, highest dunes and freshest seafood in America,” says Firpo-Cappiello.
Take a break from driving and ride on Saugatuck’s ferry to Oval Beach, the only remaining chain-driven ferry in the United States. 960 1280
The European Tour: France to Italy to SwitzerlandSkip the train, and travel at your own speed on a road trip through Europe’s charming lakeside towns. Start your journey along the banks of Lake Annecy that sits under the French Alps’ Mount Blanc, advises travel writer and TV personality, Kim Mance. “You’ll cross many picturesque canal bridges as you drive toward Italy, with countless castles on hilltops,” says Mance.
After you stop for an Italian fondue lunch (yes, that exists!), Mance suggests you head back north toward Switzerland’s tiny villages, which dot the mountainside. From here, make your way to the stunningly beautiful Belle Époque city of Montreux, Switzerland on the shore of Lake Geneva. The entire drive from Annecy to Montreux can be done in about 4 hours, but Mance suggests taking a week. 960 1280
Tour of the Island: Oahu, HawaiiThe best way to explore the island of Oahu? By car, preferably a Mustang convertible to be exact, says Kathleen Rellihan, interactive producer for TravelChannel.com. Escape Honolulu’s crowds and explore the hidden gems on Oahu, from the Halona Blowhole to Lanikai Beach (often ranked as one of the world’s best beaches) and Tropical Farms’ Macadamia Nut Farm.
Plan to stay at least a night on Oahu’s famed North Shore , a relaxed surf mecca that’s home to Pipeline, a world famous surf break, and beach-basking sea turtles. “Don’t miss the garlic shrimp trucks along Kamehameha Highway and stop at Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach to watch big wave surfers and incredible sunsets,” adds Rellihan. 960 1280
Seaside Foodventure: Puglia, ItalyIf you’re looking for a road trip off the beaten track with plenty of unforgettable food stops, look no further than Italy’s Puglia region. With over 250 miles of ancient olive groves, charming fishing villages and glistening Adriatic coastline, Puglia “the heel on Italy’s boot,” is less tourist trodden than other regions in Italy and best explored on a slow-paced road trip, says Rellihan.
As you drive along the coast of Puglia, steering clear of cattle and steep rocky drops, stop at cliffside wonders like Vieste’s fortified whitewashed castle and Bari’s Grotta Palazzese, one of the many restaurants nestled inside ancient caves perched over the blue-green Adriatic Sea. 960 1280
ScareHouse (Pittsburgh, PA)ScareHouse is the place to be this year, especially because it has an exclusive partnership with Legendary Entertainment to help create the scariest Halloween to date. Featured attractions include The Summoning, Pittsburgh Zombies: Black Out and The Basement. This Halloween haunt offers a big-budget sensibility without losing its hometown appeal. “ScareHouse is my pick because sociologist and ‘fear expert’ Margee Kerr is always on staff to research and develop new ways to truly disturb visitors,” says geek culture and paranormal pop-culture expert Aaron Sagers. 960 1280
Fright Dome (Las Vegas, NV)Located in Circus Circus’ Adventuredome, the Fright Dome is one of Las Vegas’ largest and longest-running Halloween attractions. With 6 new haunted houses, the theme park is transformed into a pitch-black, lights-out, haunted spectacle – easily making it the scariest on the Strip. The 5-acre theme park also includes 25 rides and attractions, multiple live shows at night and 4 new scare zones, including the Clown Overload Zone. “My personal nightmare of clowns with glowing eyes surrounding me came to life,” says Zak Bagans, lead investigator of Ghost Adventures. “I had the worst panic attack. Needless to say, I’ll go back again, because it was badass!” 960 1280
Netherworld (Atlanta, GA)With more than 200 animated monsters and 100 live actors, Netherworld is one of the nation’s most famous attractions. Having been featured on TV and in movies such as Zombieland, this spooky attraction has amazingly detailed sets. “And unlike other Halloween attractions, Netherworld’s creepy characters greet patrons in the parking lot before they purchase tickets, scaring them off before they even enter,” says Larry Kirchner, owner of HauntWorld.com and Halloween Productions. 960 1280
The 13th Gate (Baton Rouge, LA)The 13th Gate is one of the most, if not the most, elaborately detailed haunted houses in America, thanks to a construction crew that includes award-winning set designers, lighting and sound technicians, and special-effects artists. Sets are over-the-top and feature live animals, including snakes and gators. In each of the 13 themed indoor and outdoor areas, more than 100 professional actors and 12 special makeup artists help bring the horror to life. “Hollywood production companies have rented the attraction multiple times to film movies such as The Reaping,” says HauntWorld Magazine owner Larry Kirchner. “The 13th Gate is, without any doubt, one of the best haunted houses in America.” 960 1280
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum Haunted House (Weston, WV)The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum is one of the most memorable haunted locations for Ghost Adventures lead investigator Zak Bagans, who completed a live 7-hour investigation with the Ghost Adventures crew. The spirits that roam the asylum’s halls are extremely active, and tours are offered to see how the mentally insane lived and died within these walls. “It is undeniably the scariest overall haunted attraction that I’ve been to in the US, outside of the Fright Dome,” Zak says. Additionally, visitors can participate in zombie paintball, a fall festival and the Asylum Ball, which includes a costume contest. 960 1280
13th Floor Haunted HouseThe 13th Floor Haunted House is the largest and longest indoor haunted attraction in Colorado. It was renovated this year with 2 new attractions. “Watch evil take control of unwilling bodies in Undead: The Possession, or run for your life as terrifying ghouls and monsters come alive as you walk through Dwellings of the Dead,” says TravelChannel.com video project manager Arthur Hsu. Equipped with state-of-the-art technology such as Microsoft Kinect, the robotic monsters are more than capable of frightening the victims who dare to venture into the 13th Floor. 960 1280
Bennett’s Curse (Jessup, MD)This haunted spectacle outside Baltimore is one of the top Halloween attractions in the mid-Atlantic region. It features 3 terrifying haunted houses — Medieval Underworld, Inferno 3D and Sanctuary of Insanity — and the owners of this popular haunt continue to add monsters and twists to keep the attractions exciting for new and returning visitors. Arthur Hsu says, “Not only has Bennett’s Curse been featured on Travel Channel’s America’s Scariest Halloween Attractions 3, but it has consistently been ranked by several sources as one of the best Halloween attractions in the US.” This spooky spot is also among the first to frighten its victims with the latest cutting-edge technology. 960 1280
Halloween Horror Nights (Orlando, FL)Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Orlando should be at the top of anyone’s Halloween bucket list, especially fans looking for big-budget scares. Aaron Sagers says, “Movie industry experts craft haunted houses so loaded with detail that visitors walk through and feel like they’ve been dropped into an episode of The Walking Dead or the movie From Dusk Till Dawn.” Other popular attractions featured at the theme park include Bayou of Blood, Dollhouse of the Damned and Roanoke – Cannibal Colony. Those willing to face their fears can also enter, at their own risk, the Halloween house for a face-to-face meeting with Michael Myers, the iconic masked slasher from the movies. 960 1280
Festival of the Dead (Salem, MA)Salem, MA, is historically known for the 1692 Witch trials that left 20 people executed. This year’s Festival of the Dead includes 2 weeks of events and parties designed to bring out your inner Witch. Attend a séance to speak with the dead, share your stories with others at the Mourning Tea, pick up new ghost-hunting techniques or learn about death’s macabre customs and strange rituals. Finish the festival with the Official Salem Witches’ Ball on Oct. 31, and you’ll leave this town spellbound. Author, TV personality and paranormal expert Jeff Belanger says, “This town will cast a spell on you.” 960 1280
Queen Mary (Long Beach, CA)The Queen Mary was built in the early 1930s as a luxury trans-Atlantic ocean liner, but it was pressed into military service to carry troops during World War II, when hundreds died in and around the ship. This Halloween, the haunted ship is offering its Dark Harbor tours with 4 new attractions: the Soulmate maze, the B340 maze, Voodoo Village and Monster Midway, which features a freak show, a mechanical monster and a new ride, the Sinister Swings. “Keep your eyes open, because those ghostly apparitions you see may not just be another special effect,” says Jeff Belanger. And before you go, make sure you check out the Ghost Adventures’ lockdown and investigation of the Queen Mary. 960 1280
Fan Favorite: Waverly Hills Sanatorium (Louisville, KY)We asked and the majority of the people who responded on Twitter and Facebook told us that Waverly Hills Sanatorium, in Louisville, KY, should be the fan favorite pic for Travel’s Best Halloween Attractions 2014. Built in 1908, the original building was designed to accommodate up to 50 tuberculosis patients. Today, it’s the site for paranormal investigations, tours and creepy sightings. Add it to your must-see spooky spots on Halloween. 960 1280
Moab, UtahHome to both Dead Horse State Park and Arches National Park, the resort-like town of Moab offers some of the most stunning red-rock scenery you’ll ever experience, says Anna Vawser of blog, The Legendary Adventures of Anna. Whether you’re a novice outdoorsman or seasoned explorer, there’s no shortage of exciting adventures to be had, including mountain biking, hiking and 4-wheeling. Vawser recommends “rock climbing among the gorgeous cliffs, touring the Hell’s Revenge Jeep Trail and whitewater rafting down the grand Colorado River.” 960 1280
Black Hills, DakotasWant remote, rugged beauty with a heaping helping of Americana? Then head directly to the western Dakotas. “Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorials are some of the largest mountain carvings ever, a testament to the United States’ ‘bigger is better’ motto,” says the Martin family of thatTripUSA.com. “Awesome day trips include the historic Wall Drug Store (a rustic mall for weary travelers), Minuteman Missile National Historic Site (an underground, nuclear-themed throwback to America’s Cold War) and the Enchanted Highway (home to rest stops decorated with a bunch of world-record sized scrap metal sculptures).” While you’re there, visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park, one of the Martins' favorites, for a chance to be surrounded by herds of buffalo, chattering cities of prairie dogs, deer, and herds of wild horses. 960 1280
Joshua Tree National Park, CaliforniaRemember what absolute silence sounds like? Most days, neither do we. That’s when we escape into the Mojave Desert to Joshua Tree National Park, a treasure trove of its namesake Joshua trees and rock formations like Skull and Arch Rock. Kinga Philipps, our resident National Parks expert, suggests “spending days bouldering among Martian-looking landscapes, exploring the palm-fringed oases, watching [fiery] sunsets and experiencing silence so golden that you can hear the rush of air through a bird’s feathers as it flies overhead.” 960 1280
Crater Lake National Park, OregonYou can comb the states over and not come across a body of water more mind-blowingly beautiful than Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon. “The lake is the purest shade of blue, surrounded by striking, 2,000-foot cliffs,” Vawser says. Formed in a dormant volcano’s crater, the magnificent blue lake is entirely filled from direct precipitation of rain or snow – the crater receives an average 44 feet of snow a year! “You can make your way down the Cleetwood Trail for a swim, try your hand at fishing, or have a relaxing picnic while enjoying the view,” says Vawser. Just don’t put off your summertime visit – Crater Lake’s first snowfall is often in September. 960 1280
Nantucket Island, MassachusettsJust off the coast of Cape Cod, MA, Nantucket is full of New England charm, great restaurants, eclectic shops and truly stunning beaches – making it a summer island paradise. The Grey Lady [nicknamed for its mystical fog and weathered grey-shingled houses] educates and delights, says Travel Channel host Don Wildman. “The Whaling Museum provides the sea legs for future readers of Moby Dick and Great Point Lighthouse is a family expedition for the books.” 960 1280
Pittsburgh, PennsylvaniaPittsburgh in the summer? Hear us out on this one. Home to more than 39 colleges and universities, Pittsburgh is bubbling over with young people helping to redefine the city. Steel City has even become an arts destination thanks to institutions such as the iconic Andy Warhol Museum, as well as the Mattress Factory, a contemporary art museum with room-sized installations spread throughout a 4-story warehouse. “It’s not only one of the hippest cities in America, but also it’s located in the great expanse of western Pennsylvania,” Wildman says. “Spend the day in town at the Carnegie Museums, then head south to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater to see an architectural wonder or to Ohiopyle State Park for thrilling whitewater.” 960 1280
Everglades National Park, Florida<a href="http://www.travelchannel.com/interests/road-trips/articles/everglades-national-park-florida">Florida’s Everglades National Park</a> has one of the most unique ecosystems in the US, a subtropical paradise of plants, birds and rare wildlife -- even manatees. But don’t just take our word for it. “Take an airboat tour and keep your eyes peeled for alligators and crocodiles – it’s the only place in the world where they coexist,” says Philipps. The Everglades offers an array of activities, from fishing, camping and hiking to biking, kayaking and canoeing. Explore the tropical mangrove forests and miles of sawgrass, says Philipps. “Just don’t forget the bug spray.”