Travel's Best Culinary Destinations

Food lovers make it their mission to experience mouthwatering meals -- and they're willing to travel far and wide to do so. From Sweden's flavorful shellfish to the fresh flavors of Bangkok street food, and the United States' hottest dining trends, our panel of experts has helped select Travel's Best Culinary Destinations. With their passports in hand and appetites in check, travelers can feast on the world's most memorable meals.

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Artifact Uprising Coffee-Table Book, starting at $17.99
Artifact Uprising Coffee-Table Book, starting at $17.99

Artifact Uprising Coffee-Table Book, starting at $17.99

"The ultimate coffee-table tome, however? Showing off your own adventure,” says Senior Producer Sara Gilliam. Artifact Uprising makes it easy to turn personal photos from your latest trip, or series of trips, into a one-of-a-kind hardcover keepsake for a loved one. 960 1280

Artifact Uprising LLC  

Bose QuietComfort 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones, $299.95

Bose QuietComfort 20i Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones, $299.95

"If you haven’t bought a pair of Bose's noise-canceling headphones because they take up too much space, look into its QuietComfort 20i (or QC20) acoustic headphones," recommends travel expert Johnny Jet. 960 1280

Bose Corporation  

Brooklyn Candle Studio Travel Tins, starting at $14

Brooklyn Candle Studio Travel Tins, starting at $14

"Brooklyn Candle Studio's stylish, brushed-gold tins instantly cozy up any old hotel room and come in a variety of fruity, floral and woodsy scents, such as green tea lemongrass and sandalwood," says Sara Gilliam. 960 1280

Brooklyn Candle Studio  

Second Edition Red Playing Cards, $15

Second Edition Red Playing Cards, $15

Fathom co-founder Jeralyn Gerba says this stylish red set of cards is a conversation starter with new friends, a diversion during travel hiccups and, mixed with the right cocktail, pretty much all you need to have a party. 960 1280

Misc. Goods Co.  

Napa Valley Wine Train, starting at $109 per person

Napa Valley Wine Train, starting at $109 per person

"The Napa Valley Wine Train is not only a practical way to see California’s beautiful wine country (no designated driver required), but it’s also an experience in itself — the ride offers fine dining and panoramic views in the 2-story 1952 Pullman domed railcar," says Sara Gilliam. 960 1280

John Elk lll/ Lonely Planet Images/ Getty Images  

The Satechi Travel Adapter, $21.99

The Satechi Travel Adapter, $21.99

"This device is the only travel converter you need to bring around the world — it juices gadgets in more than 150 countries with the 4 most common plug configurations," says Johnny Jet. 960 1280

Satechi  

Scottevest, starting at $70

Scottevest, starting at $70

“Any jacket or other article of clothing that has multiple hidden pockets and can act as a third carry-on, protect your valuables and still be stylish like Scottevest will always be on the top of my list,” says Johnny Jet. 960 1280

SCOTTeVEST, Inc.  

Selk Bag Patagon, $199

Selk Bag Patagon, $199

"I'm a big fan of comfortable and cozy, and this sleeping bag/onesie was both in spades," says Travel Channel Gear Guide host Rob Pralgo. "If I had a Selk Bag, I'd wear it 24/7." 960 1280

Selk’Bag  

Neoprene Zip Pouch, $75

Neoprene Zip Pouch, $75

"The neoprene fabric, big zipper and squishy shape mean the Summer Bummer toiletry bag is light and durable and water-resistant and can be tossed around — from boat to beach to ski slope and back into your carryall," says Jeralyn Gerba. 960 1280

Summer Bummer  

Rimowa Luggage, Starting at $525

Rimowa Luggage, Starting at $525

"Ask me for a suitcase that combines robust German engineering with space-age materials that basically rolls itself, and I will show you the best lightweight luggage money can buy," says Jeralyn Gerba of Rimowa luggage. 960 1280

Rimowa  

Charlottesville, VA
Charlottesville, Virginia

Charlottesville, Virginia

Charlottesville, home to the University of Virginia, was recently named one of National Geographic's 10 "World Wonders" thanks to Thomas Jefferson's design. Beyond the campus' Rotunda and nearby Monticello, the rolling hills and Blue Ridge mountains serve as a beautiful backdrop for the surrounding wineries and orchards. For its size, Charlottesville is incredibly well-read (it supports two weekly papers), has a plethora of art galleries, is overflowing with restaurants and attracts big-name talent to its open-air pavilion on the Downtown Mall. 960 1280

Bob Mical, flickr  

Savannah, Georgia

Savannah, Georgia

Centered around Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), there's no question that Savannah is an eclectic town with a never-ending supply of culture. But aside from its rich Southern history and gorgeous antebellum architecture, its home to the (too?) rich home cooking of Paula Deen at The Lady & Sons, an ever-rotating selection of craft brews at The Distillery and the decadent pralines at River Street Sweets. And if that's not enough, the beach at Tybee Island is only 30 minutes away. 960 1280

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Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.

Washington isn’t all politics. With nine colleges and universities, the capital is also a large college town, with a seriously diverse range of neighborhoods. U Street beckons with Ben’s Chili Bowl, and Georgetown is a great place for a pre-exam sugar high, courtesy of Georgetown Cupcake. A sports fix is also within easy reach, thanks to D.C.'s and the surrounding area's major sports arenas: Verizon Center, Nationals Park, RFK Stadium and FedEx Field. But nothing beats the National Mall, the 2.5-mile-long stretch of green where you can enjoy everything from a game of soccer to an outdoor “screen on the green” movie. 960 1280

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Boston, Massachusetts

Boston, Massachusetts

OK, so Boston isn’t exactly a “town”… but with an estimated 250,000 college students and some 80 colleges and universities, the city sometimes feels like one giant campus quad. Boston is a city with a lot of history and even more pride -– anyone who’s ever been to a Sox game can attest to that. Just be sure to avoid the city come September 1st… Boston’s notorious “moving day,” when a mass influx of students pick up the keys to their new apartments and head back to college. 960 1280

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Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota

Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota

The Twin Cities is home to more than a half dozen colleges and universities, including the University of Minnesota’s main campus. Go Golden Gophers! There’s always something to do when studying isn’t a priority. Head to the Metrodome to catch a Gophers, Vikings or Twins game. Visit the Weisman Art Museum, West Bank, Guthrie Theater and the Walker Art Center. Sample tasty cuisine at the hip Loring Pasta Bar and Annie’s Parlor in Dinkytown. And explore the Mississippi River, Minnehaha Falls and Lake Calhoun to witness the area’s natural beauty. 960 1280

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Chapel Hill, N.C.

Chapel Hill, N.C.

Known as “The Southern Part of Heaven” and home to the University of North Carolina Tarheels, Chapel Hill’s main strip -- Franklin Street – is the place for tailgating after parties, first-date dinners at Top of the Hill, boutique shops and Sunday strolls. As the University continues to grow and expand, so does the surrounding area: adding new shops, delis and inns to the already popular downtown Chapel Hill. 960 1280

VisitNC.com – Bill Russ  

Morgantown, W.V.

Morgantown, W.V.

Nestled in the beautiful mountains of north-central West Virginia and along the banks of the Monongahela River, Morgantown is home to the West Virginia University (WVU) Mountaineers. Students and visitors enjoy outdoor adventure all year long with nearby rafting, hiking and skiing. Named “Best Party School in the United States” by the Princeton Review in 2012, WVU is infamous for its off-campus parties and post-game celebrations held on Sunnyside’s Grant Avenue. A Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) system connects the University’s three campuses and makes game-day tailgating at Mountaineer Field both easy and safe. 960 1280

J. Robinson, flickr  

Boulder, Colorado

Boulder, Colorado

Where else can students wake up, go for a quick hike, stop by campus for a class, and hit the slopes by the afternoon? Even if outdoor activities aren’t your thing, there’s something for you. Go for a stroll down Pearl Street, a pedestrian mall lined with shops, world-class restaurants and fire-juggling street performers. No matter what you do here, there's a good chance your activity of choice will be set against the stunning backdrop of the Colorado rockies. 960 1280

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Athens, Georgia

Athens, Georgia

You may think of the University of Georgia as a typical southern school -- and in many ways it is -- but Athens, isn't a typical college town. The historic downtown has fostered artists, hipsters and musicians such as R.E.M. and the B-52s. And if you look beyond the frat houses in the neighborhood of Five Points, you'll find old Georgia mansions and upscale restaurants. 960 1280

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Berkeley, California

Berkeley, California

You gotta take in the view of the Bay Area from atop the 307-foot-tall Sather Tower, in the heart of Berkeley’s campus. Once you descend, your next mandatory stop is Telegraph Avenue, Berkeley’s lively commercial strip with local attractions like the historic Fox Oakland Theatre. Want to see an outdoor show? Head to the 8,500-seat Greek Theatre. Keep the outdoor fun going -- pony and carousel rides, anyone? -- at Tilden Regional Park. Like any A-list college town, Berkeley is big on sports, with nearly a dozen sports facilities that cater to track and field, soccer, field hockey, water polo and more. 960 1280

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Madison, Wisconsin

Madison, Wisconsin

Madison is Wisconsin’s capital city, and it’s also the largest city in the Dairy State. According to Forbes magazine, Madison ranks 16th in education and falls in the top 50 list of cities with the highest number of Ph.D.s per capita. The city is home to few colleges and one university, the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Aside from hitting the books, students and locals can enjoy fun, local activities, which include checking out a concert on Capitol Square, taking a swim in Lake Mendota or visiting the Olbrich Botanical Gardens. 960 1280

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Tempe, Arizona

Tempe, Arizona

Located in the middle of four major cities in Arizona (Mesa, Gilbert, Phoenix and Scottsdale), Tempe is known as one of the more diverse cities in the state. Step right out of the classroom into the beautiful Arizona sun. The number of pools is endless, the sunbathing is top notch and the mountainous scenery with palm trees lining the streets isn't too shabby either. Arizona State's campus is highlighted by dozens of bars and restaurants that line Mill Avenue. And that's not all, a 5-minute ride down the road will land you right in the heart of downtown Scottsdale. 960 1280

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carved city, aerial view, petra, jordan
Petra, Jordan

Petra, Jordan

“The ancient Rose-Red City of Petra in Jordan is much more than a scene from Indiana Jones; it’s one of the world’s most impressive ancient sites,” says Matt Long. “From the 3/4-mile-long entrance through a narrow slot canyon to the massive building carved into the mountain, Petra rarely fails to impress visitors, as it has done for more than 2,000 years.” 960 1280

Jordan Tourism Board  

Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef

Off the coast of Queensland, Australia, sits an underwater treasure: the largest coral reef system in the world, known simply as the Great Barrier Reef. “Its size is daunting — it can be seen from outer space — but that doesn’t stop the millions who visit every year to experience not only the warm tropical waters, but also the amazing diversity of life hidden just beneath the waves,” says Matt Long. 960 1280

Maxime Coquard/Tourism Australia  

Northern Lights

Northern Lights

“The great polar wonder of the aurora borealis has captivated imaginations for millennia, but it’s also one of the world’s most impressive natural wonders,” says Matt Long of LandLopers.com. “These dancing sheets of greens and pinks across the night sky may have their origins in outer space, but their effect on those of us here on Earth certainly can’t be denied.”  960 1280

Bard Loken/Visitnorway.com  

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

The lost city of Angkor is one of the world's most impressive architectural wonders. With more than 100 intricately carved 12th-century Khmer temples and sacred shrines, Angkor Wat is epic in size, scope and artistic detail, says travel junkie Julia Dimon. “A visit here is almost a mystical experience.”    960 1280

Matthew Micah Wright/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images  

Antarctica

Antarctica

“It’s huge, it’s maddeningly hard to get to, and it’s all but impossible to thoroughly explore, but that’s what makes it great,” says Expedition Unknown host Josh Gates. Ships are crossing the Drake Passage in record numbers to give visitors a look at our mysterious seventh continent, “one of the most silent, raw and spectacular landscapes on Earth.” 960 1280

DreamPictures/Getty Images   

Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar

Shwedagon Pagoda, Myanmar

The shining star of Myanmar, this soaring temple and ancient Buddhist stupa sits on a high hill at the heart of the country’s largest city, Yangon. The temple is like a small city, dominated by a 325-foot gilded spire at its center, says Expedition Unknown host Josh Gates.  960 1280

Mr Anujak Jaimook/Moment Open/Getty Images  

Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe

Victoria Falls, Zambia/Zimbabwe

Straddling the border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, this incredible natural wonder is one of the world's largest waterfalls. “A visit here makes you appreciate why the locals call it Mosi-oa-Tunya, which means ‘the smoke that thunders,’” says Julia Dimon. “Upon arrival to the falls, travelers will journey down a trail, leading them just a few hundred feet from the unrelenting, cascading waters” of the Zambezi River.  960 1280

Pascal Boegli/Moment/Getty Images  

Photos

Best Site for Travel Packages: HolidayPirates.com

Best Site for Travel Packages: HolidayPirates.com

"For great package deals, check out the website HolidayPirates.com. They find incredible deals for packages, flights and more departing to and from Europe. I've found some incredible, hard-to-find offers on that website, like $500-roundtrip flights to Europe or $50 flights from Europe to Turkey." -- Matthew Kepnes, Nomadic Matt 960 1280

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Best Times for Off-Peak Travel: Jan. 15 to Feb. 28; Oct. 15 to May 15

Best Times for Off-Peak Travel: Jan. 15 to Feb. 28; Oct. 15 to May 15

"US Airways offers economy round-trip tickets to Europe from North America for just 35,000 miles from Jan. 15 to Feb. 28. If you have their co-branded credit card, that price drops to 30,000 miles roundtrip. American Airlines also offers off-peak discounted award tickets to Europe from Oct. 15 to May 15 for 40,000 miles, down from the usual 60,000. If you have their co-branded credit card, you can even get 10% of those redeemed miles back, up to an annual cap." -- Summer Hull, Mommy Points 960 1280

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Best Hotel Rewards Program: Starwood Preferred Guest

Best Hotel Rewards Program: Starwood Preferred Guest

"Starwood Preferred Guest is a great hotel program, with a vast portfolio of hotels throughout the world. Redemptions start at just 2,000 points and members have the option to transfer points to dozens of airlines at a 1-to-1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus on every 20,000 points transferred." -- Rick Ingersoll, Frugal Travel Guy 960 1280

Getty Images  

Best Phone App for International Travel: Viber

Best Phone App for International Travel: Viber

"Calling, texting and emailing while abroad can rack up thousands of dollars in fees. However, there are great apps like Viber that you can use for free with an internet connection. Viber users can send free text messages, photo messages, video messages and more with other users, and it’s compatible with iPhone, Android, and other major mobile and desktop devices." -- Brian Kelly, The Points Guy 960 1280

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Best-Value Trip: Eastern Europe

Best-Value Trip: Eastern Europe

"For a great-value trip, head to Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine) for very cheap destinations, great food, friendly people and few tourists. It's the medieval Europe you want without the crowds in Prague or Tallinn." -- Matthew Kepnes, Nomadic Matt 960 1280

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Best Car Rental Option: Costco Travel

Best Car Rental Option: Costco Travel

"If you have a Costco membership, you can get good deals from Costco Travel such as no additional driver fees with certain rental companies. If booking abroad, AutoEurope.com gives good rates in Europe. I used it to book a wagon for a trip to Paris which saved me about 40% off booking directly with the rental company." -- Arthur Hsu, Mileage Runner 960 1280

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Best Frequent Flyer Program: United MileagePlus

Best Frequent Flyer Program: United MileagePlus

"United MileagePlus is a great program, as it offers access to an extensive route network and award inventory. In short, they make it easy to redeem your miles. United miles are also easy to earn, with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card offering instant 1-to-1 transfer of points to United." -- Rick Ingersoll, Frugal Travel Guy 960 1280

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Best Site for Fare Alerts: Yapta

Best Site for Fare Alerts: Yapta

"If you don’t want to constantly check and recheck websites for the best fares, then sign up for Yapta’s fare alerts. They will automatically keep you updated on the fares you are interested in. All you have to do is set the date(s), city pairs and the price point, and they will alert you via email." -- John E. DiScala, Johnny Jet 960 1280

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Best Site for Blind Travel Bids: BiddingForTravel.com

Best Site for Blind Travel Bids: BiddingForTravel.com

"When I shop around for hotels and car rentals, I don't think there is any better place than Priceline. But keep in mind when you use their Name Your Own Price feature, you can't cancel. Before I make a blind bid, I always log on to BiddingForTravel.com to see what other people's luck was with their bids. It shows how much people paid for which dates and will give you a pretty good idea of which hotel you will end up with." -- John E. DiScala, Johnny Jet 960 1280

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Best Credit Card for Travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred

Best Credit Card for Travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred

"The Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers generous sign-up bonuses and flexible points that can be transferred to both airline and hotel partners. The Sapphire Preferred makes it easy to amass points quickly, with 2x points on travel and dining. The original signup bonuses can be worth over $500 in travel after you meet the required minimum spend, within the first 3 months typically." -- Rick Ingersoll, Frugal Travel Guy 960 1280

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Take a Road Trip Through Belgium

Take a Road Trip Through Belgium

“Rent a car and don’t miss the vibrant university towns of Ghent and Mons,” say Kristin Henning and Tom Bartel of Travel Past 50. Along the way, stop in Bruges, which was made even more popular by the 2008 film In Bruges. It’s a picturesque city of scenic canals and bridges, art, relics, classic bell towers and historic civic squares. Another must-see is the gorgeous city square in Brussels, where you are never far from a fresh beer, chocolate and fantastic seafood and fries. “There is a whole world of history in Belgium,” Tom says. “Visit Bastogne’s Peace Forest memorial (think Band of Brothers) and the War Museum, newly updated for D-Day’s 70 year anniversary.”  960 1280

Gonzalo Azumendi/ The Image Bank/ Getty Images  

Explore Utah’s Surreal Parks

Explore Utah’s Surreal Parks

In southern Utah, five parks are close enough to string together: Bryce Canyon, Zion, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Arches (home of the much photographed Delicate Arch). Spend a couple days in each. Bryce is home to surreal sandstone spires and some peaceful picnic and camping areas. “Zion hosts a spectacular hike up the Virgin River canyon,” says Kristin Henning and Tom Bartel. “Use walking sticks and prepare to get wet to your thighs. Reaching the Delicate Arch can be a long hot trek, but it’s rewarding.” 960 1280

Aaron Meyers/ Moment/ Getty Images  

Go Off the Beaten Path in Italy

Go Off the Beaten Path in Italy

After you’ve seen Italy’s big 3 — Venice, Rome and Florence — go off the beaten path in Northern Italy. The “Cinque Terre is magical: beautiful scenery, good accommodations, easy access and several travel options between the villages that make it suitable for all fitness levels,” say Alison Armstrong and Don Read of Adventures in Wonderland. The 5 tiny, colorful villages clinging to Liguria’s rugged coastline are a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, and very few cars are allowed, but you can easily get around by ferry, foot or train.  960 1280

Amoklv/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

Adventures at Sea in Beaufort, SC

Adventures at Sea in Beaufort, SC

Find solace in a Deep South filled with towering oak trees strung with Spanish moss, genteel mansions, and tranquil waterways in the picturesque town of Beaufort, SC, known as the "Queen of the Carolina Sea Islands." “The area's 64 islands are perfect for exploring by boat or kayak, and the area's plentiful population of birds and sea life make it a top destination for aviary enthusiasts and anglers,” says Valerie Conners of Retire There. “Travelers will encounter horse-drawn carriages winding through the downtown historic district and more than 300 acres designated a National Historic Landmark.” 960 1280

Snikeltrut/ Getty Images  

Roadtripping in Western National Parks

Roadtripping in Western National Parks

Two weeks of rugged scenery, abundant wildlife watching and adventure for all ability levels make this Western national parks road trip unforgettable. “Begin by exploring the hiking trails, glaciers and lakes of Glacier National Park,” says Donna Hull of My Itchy Travel Feet. “Of course driving the engineering marvel, Going-to-the-Sun Road, is a must do.” Next, visit America’s version of the Serengeti where bison, wolves and elk roam vast Yellowstone National Park and don’t miss the geyser watching at Upper Geyser Basin where Old Faithful puts on a show. “A float down the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park completes this western road trip,” Donna adds. 960 1280

Wyoming Office of Tourism  

Discover Why Paris Is Always a Good Idea

Discover Why Paris Is Always a Good Idea

“Paris may seem like a surprising haven for retirees, but its manageable size, level terrain and superb transportation system make it a remarkably senior-friendly destination,” Lynne Martin of Home Free Adventures says. “Add fabulous food, art, history and undeniable beauty, and you’ll discover why it’s become (my) favorite European destination.” 960 1280

Iakov Kalinin/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

Make Memories on a Un-Cruise in Alaska

Make Memories on a Un-Cruise in Alaska

“Swap ports for the quiet bays of Alaska’s Inside Passage with an expedition cruise that’s about doing rather than seeing,” says Donna Hull. “You’ll bond [with loved ones] while kayaking in Thomas Bay, riding a jet boat up the Stikine River or floating with icebergs in LeConte Bay.” 960 1280

State of Alaska/ Brian Adams  

Find Out Why People Fall in Love With San Miguel de Allende

Find Out Why People Fall in Love With San Miguel de Allende

An easy flight from most parts of the country, this UNESCO World Heritage Site in central Mexico has become a frequent stop for retirees. “It is not uncommon for tourists to visit and then purchase property within 3 days of arriving in San Miguel,” Alison Armstrong and Don Read say. Chalk it up to the welcoming people, mild climate, rich cultural opportunities, beautiful colonial architecture, safe environment and world-class shopping. They add, “We often wondered if we were in Mexico or Europe, until we saw some fabulous giant puppets at a Mexican wedding celebration.”  960 1280

JD Estevao/ iStock/ Thinkstock  

Aspen, Any Time of the Year

Aspen, Any Time of the Year

Part of the appeal of an Aspen retreat in the Rockies is that while it’s located smack in the middle of Colorado, it’s slightly off the beaten path. “The attraction in winter is, of course, the skiing and winter sports–both at Aspen Mountain and nearby Snowmass, says Kristen Henning. “But the rest of the year, especially autumn, is equally stunning.” Maroon Bells Wilderness area, home to bear, moose, beaver and brilliant Aspen trees, offers hiking for all levels as well as bike trails that wind along rivers, connecting parks, neighborhoods and towns.  960 1280

Barrett Friel  

Premiere Golfing in Naples, FL

Premiere Golfing in Naples, FL

Well-heeled Naples has long been a popular haven for retirees and families and with good reason. “The small town along Florida's postcard-perfect Gulf Coast lets retirees enjoy a charming downtown filled with upscale shopping and dining, as well as cultural attractions,” says Valerie Conners. Still, this self-proclaimed, “Golf Capital of the World" draws scores of experienced and novice golf fans to play on the region's 70-plus greens, many designed by golf icons like Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer. 960 1280

Jeremy Sterk/ Getty Images  

Best Exotic Beach: Tavarua, Fiji

Best Exotic Beach: Tavarua, Fiji

There are not many beaches in the world that offer as diverse and incredible experience as Fiji's tropical paradise of Tavarua. "You can dive, fish, snorkel, and surf in the crystal clear seas surrounding the vibrant coral reefs teeming with sea life," says Alison Teal, host of Alison's Adventures. "As an avid surfer, it's a dream come true to sit along the white sandy beach and then head out into a world-class surf break. The moment that sealed my love affair with this place is when I saw it from the sky: The island is shaped perfectly like a heart." 960 1280

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Sexiest Beach: White Bay, Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

Sexiest Beach: White Bay, Jost Van Dyke, British Virgin Islands

According to Beach Tomato co-founder Tom Marchant, White Bay's secluded half-mile stretch of beach has the ideal balance of undisturbed white sand and turquoise sea at one end and secluded caves where you can watch the sun go down (with mouthwatering cocktail in hand) at the other. "Head down to the Soggy Dollar bar at night to stargaze with your loved one before retiring for the night in one of the islands stunning hotels," Marchant says. "What more could you want?" 960 1280

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Best Family Beach: Clearwater Beach, FL

Best Family Beach: Clearwater Beach, FL

"The sand at Clearwater Beach is as soft as baby powder, and the gradual slope to the warm Gulf water makes it an ideal beach for babies and toddlers" according to Have Baby Will Travel founder Corrine McDermott. "Parents will love the shaded jungle gym, as well as full facilities and a snack bar with healthy options." The Gulf Coast beach has many accommodation, food, and public transportation options, appealing to many families' tastes and vacation budgets. 960 1280

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Best Party Beach: Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Best Party Beach: Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazil's Maracanã Stadium will be center stage for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but the real party is on Ipanema Beach, where there’s always a steady stream of vendors selling beer and Cachaça. "Rio has already revamped Post 9 (the area right off Rua Vinícius de Moraes) with a new look, new changing facilities, lockers for surfboards, and showers." says managing producer Kwin Mosby. Watch Cariocas -- Rio natives -- play volleyball, foot volley, soccer or surf. Mosby adds, "After the sun goes down, eat at the popular churrascaria Porcao and go bar hopping at some of the best nightspots in the world like the exclusive Baronneti nightclub." 960 1280

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Best Romantic Beach: The Maldives

Best Romantic Beach: The Maldives

Startlingly turquoise seas and shimmering white sands ring the islands comprising the Maldives archipelago, a chain of 26 atolls, or rings, in the Indian Ocean. "These postcard-perfect isles are home to ultra-exclusive resorts, where long stretches of private beach unfold before sprinklings of overwater bungalows complete with private decks and outdoor showers," says travel writer Valerie Conners. "Let romance kindle while enjoying sunset strolls, snorkeling exquisite coral reefs and lounging -- cocktail in hand -- under thatched umbrellas in paradise." 960 1280

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Best Beach for Adventure: Leo Carrillo State Beach, Malibu, CA

Best Beach for Adventure: Leo Carrillo State Beach, Malibu, CA

"For surfers, the 1.5-mile stretch of rocky coastline creates the perfect point break with slow rolling lines good for longboarders and an outside takeoff for shortboarders," says Cali local and our resident beach host Marianela. One of the few beaches boasting both wind and waves depending on the weather, Leo Carrillo attracts kite and windsurfers, as well as kayakers and stand up paddle boarders. An array of marine life lurk in hidden caves and tidal pools. "There are also tons of challenging trails offering wonderful ocean overlooks," Marianela adds. "I've seen many brave souls bike the trails hugging the steep cliffs and others scaling down the rocks to climb out onto the staggering bluffs." 960 1280

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Best Beach Bars: Rick's Cafe, Negril, Jamaica

Best Beach Bars: Rick's Cafe, Negril, Jamaica

A Jamaican mainstay since 1974, Rick's Cafe, nestled in Negril's West End Cliffs, takes this title for the second year in a row, as it's much more than your average beachfront watering hole. For the price of a refreshing Jamaican beer, you'll witness an unrivaled view of the sunset and some unforgettable entertainment. "Don't miss the locals launching themselves from 30-foot-high cliffs into the water below" says interactive producer Ben Breslerman. "And if you're feeling really adventurous, go ahead and take the dive for yourself … Just be safe!" 960 1280

Chris Ford, flickr  

Best Unusual Beach: Vik, Iceland

Best Unusual Beach: Vik, Iceland

Stunning beaches aren’t only in the tropics. "Driving through Iceland, I couldn’t believe my eyes when I first saw the beach at Vík, a small village at the southernmost tip" says interactive producer Kathleen Rellihan. "Black volcanic sand covered with ice and snow with the legendary “troll” rock formations jetting out from the sea -- I have never seen a beach so jaw-dropping beautiful in my life.” Vík is only 110 miles from Reykjavik, so it makes for a perfect stop on a road trip along Iceland's Ring Road. You'll have plenty of other reasons to stop your car along the way — such as seeing the volcanic Lake Myvatn. 960 1280

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Best Beach You Haven't Heard of ... Yet: Don Pedro Island State Park, FL

Best Beach You Haven't Heard of ... Yet: Don Pedro Island State Park, FL

This off-the-beaten-path beach park located in Charlotte County on the Southwest coast of Florida is only accessible by private boat or ferry -- but once you've made the trip you're in for a treat, according to Dr. Beach. The island beach is a mile of fine, white sand adorned with a plethora of shells and black petrified shark teeth! In addition to beachcombing, Don Pedro is a great place for swimming in the clear, clean waters, and for fishing both on the island itself and the park's mainland. "I recommend that you bring your kayak or canoe for the trip across the bay and to explore the mangrove tunnels," Dr. Beach adds, "keep your eyes peeled for manatees, oystercatchers and bald eagles." 960 1280

VISIT FLORIDA  

Best Beach Boardwalks: Atlantic City Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ

Best Beach Boardwalks: Atlantic City Boardwalk, Atlantic City, NJ

Still standing after Superstorm Sandy, there's never been a better time to visit the Atlantic City Boardwalk, America's first boardwalk and the home of Miss America, according to senior interactive producer Sara Gilliam. "For a mix of old and new, take a ride in an iconic rolling chair while snacking on salt water taffy and people watching, indulge in some high-end shopping at Louis Vuitton or Gucci at The Pier Shops at Caesars, and splurge on a night out at one of the city's spectacular casinos or see some of the world's top entertainers perform at Boardwalk Hall," Gilliam says. Families with kids of all ages will find endless amusement at the Steel Pier across from the Trump Taj Mahal. 960 1280

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Best Overall Beach: Clearwater Beach, FL

Best Overall Beach: Clearwater Beach, FL

We asked you to weigh in on our expert picks and determine the Best Overall Beach. Travel Channel fans voted and chose Clearwater Beach, FL, as their fan favorite, lauding its "laid-back family atmosphere," blue waters and "snow white sand." 960 1280

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