Paolo Ferraris

Travel Expert

Valerie Conners is a location-independent freelance writer, editor and producer who has worked with the Travel Channel for more than 14 years, specializing in topics including the world's best beaches, outdoor travel and romantic getaways. Her work has been featured in the Travelers' Tales Best Women's Travel Writing anthology and also appears in many online and print publications, including BBC Travel, AOL Travel, Discovery Channel, World Hum, Frommer's travel guides, The Boston Globe, The Baltimore Sun and The Philadelphia Inquirer.

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She's happiest when she’s eating spicy Thai food, snorkeling with sea turtles in Indonesia and bargaining for bangles in Indian markets. She blogs about her travels at PassengerConners.com. Valerie's work on TravelChannel.com includes World's Most Decadent Chocolate Tours and Florida's Sexiest Hotels.

More From Valerie

National Constitution Center
National Constitution Center

National Constitution Center

This fascinating museum in Philadelphia located in the heart of the Independence Mall area is devoted solely to preserving the legacy of the United States Constitution. This ultra-modern, 160,000-square-foot Center explores the history of the Constitution as well as highlights its relevance in Americans' everyday lives. In addition to interactive displays and high-tech exhibits, the center regularly hosts educational seminars, debates and speakers from all manner of disciplines, like political luminaries, journalists and scholars. 960 1280

G. Widman for Visit Philadelphia™  

Eastern State Penitentiary

Eastern State Penitentiary

Philadelphia's Eastern State Penitentiary first opened in 1829 with an unusual penal premise: reform criminals by keeping them imprisoned in complete isolation -- better-known today as solitary confinement. A number of high-profile criminals were imprisoned here over its 142-year history, including Al Capone, whose well-decorated cell can be seen during a tour of the facility. Eastern State has long been said to be haunted, and a number of television shows, including Ghost Adventures, have explored the paranormal while filming here. Each Halloween, the structure is converted into the famous "Terror Behind the Walls" haunted house. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Franklin Court

Franklin Court

Visit the site where Benjamin Franklin's house once stood in what is now called Franklin Court. Franklin was serving as emissary to England and France during most of the home's construction, and his wife, Deborah was responsible for overseeing much of its construction. Franklin ultimately died here in 1790, and the house was eventually demolished in the early 1800s. Today, the site lies tucked between the hubs of Market St. and Chestnut St. and visitors must pass through a brick archway to reach the site. 960 1280

Garrett Ziegler, flickr  

Philadelphia Zoo

Philadelphia Zoo

Zoo lovers flock (yes, pun intended) to America's oldest zoo, opened in 1874, to marvel at the 42 acres of habitats filled with more than 1,300 animals. Located in West Fairmount Park in a Victorian garden-like setting, the zoo's highlights include Big Cat Falls, home to tigers, lions, leopards and jaguars, as well as the McNeil Avian Center, a rainforest habitat where visitors will discover more than 100 bird species, including many rare and endangered ones, from around the globe. 960 1280

unknown  

Liberty Bell

Liberty Bell

The Liberty Bell -- and its memorable crack -- stands as America's most iconic symbol of independence and liberty. Commissioned in 1751 for the Pennsylvania State House and cast in England, the 2,000-lb. bell cracked shortly after it was brought to America. It was recast using metal from the original bell, and yet, even the new bell wasn't without flaw. Upon being rang in 1846 to commemorate George Washington's birthday, the bell cracked again, and has not been rung since. Today it is housed in a 13,000-square-foot glass gazebo, a structure which also features numerous interactive history displays. 960 1280

Getty Images  

Franklin Square

Franklin Square

Philadelphia is a city of bucolic squares, and Franklin Square is one of the five original ones laid out by William Penn in his city plan. A stunning marble fountain dating back to 1838 serves as the 7.5-acre square's centerpiece, but visitors, particularly the wee ones, tend to be more enamored with the adjacent Philadelphia Park Liberty Carousel, a nearby 18-hole miniature golf course and the tasty SquareBurger hamburger stand. 960 1280

J. Holder for Visit Philadelphia™  

Betsy Ross House

Betsy Ross House

Though historians may debate the veracity of whether Betsy Ross truly did sew our nation's first flag of 13 stars and 13 stripes, visitors can learn about the life and times of the famed seamstress on a tour of the Betsy Ross house. This tiny, well-restored property on Arch Street is one of the city's most popular historic attractions. Ross is believed to have rented the home, and having been newly widowed, worked as a seamstress and upholsterer, often sewing flags for American ships. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Independence Hall

Independence Hall

As the site of the signing of both the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the U.S. Constitution in 1787, Independence Hall ranks as one of America's most important historic landmarks. Guided tours of the Hall convene in the courtroom where the 56 brave men defied the King of England by signing the Declaration and then continued to the Assembly Room where 11 years later delegates from 12 colonies convened to set forth the nation's principles of freedom and democracy in the Constitution. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Elfreth's Alley

Elfreth's Alley

Dating back to 1702, Elfreth's Alley has earned its title of "our nation's oldest residential street." Indeed, the narrow, storied alleyway is America's oldest continuously inhabited street, and this meticulously maintained cobblestone and brick throughway is a charmer. Twice a year, in June and during the Christmas holidays, residents open their houses up for visitors to tour. Two of the homes have been converted into the Elfreth's Alley Museum, open year-round.  960 1280

Thinkstock  

United States Mint

United States Mint

In 1792, when Philadelphia served as the nation's capital, the Coinage Act proclaimed the creation of the United States Mint. The opening of the Mint helped establish the fledgling nation's identity, and now, more than 220 years later, at least half of America's circulating coins are still produced here. Free, self-guided tours allow visitors to learn the steps of the minting process, watch the current minting process from high above the production floor on a catwalk, and see the nation's first coining press from 1792.   960 1280

J. Smith for Visit Philadelphia™  

Ogunquit Playhouse
Ogunquit Playhouse

Ogunquit Playhouse

With more than 80 years of musical productions under its belt, the Ogunquit Playhouse is one of the town's cultural icons. The theater is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and today the Playhouse produces 5 shows during its 21-week season. Throughout its history, the theater has attracted the likes of Bette Davis and Sally Struthers, and theater-goers are likely to see talent from TV, Broadway and film perform in shows like ?Grease,? ?Mary Poppins? and ?Billy Elliot.? 960 1280

Robert Dennis  

Walk the Marginal Way

Walk the Marginal Way

One of the prettiest strolls you'll take in southern Maine is the mile-long Marginal Way, which stretches from downtown Ogunquit's Shore Road to the docks at Perkins Cove. The paved pathway winds alongside coastal Maine's spectacular shoreline, with views of the sprawling beach and sea in one direction, and Ogunquit's scenic cottages and shops in the other. Breathe in the salty air and note the distant lighthouse which serves as the scene's perfect exclamation point. 960 1280

Ted Whittenkraus  

Ogunquit Beaches

Ogunquit Beaches

Coastal Maine is often -- and rightly -- associated with its craggy coastline, but Ogunquit is one of the lucky towns that boasts 2 wide, sandy stretches: Ogunquit Beach and Footbridge Beach. The 3.5-mile-long swath of Ogunquit Beach is typically filled with families, sunbathers, swimmers and even surfers and boogie boarders who pay no heed to chilly ocean temperatures. For a bit of respite, head to Footbridge Beach. Its smaller, quieter shore offers a peaceful, scenic spot to enjoy the coastal scenery. 960 1280

Chris Luczkow  

Visit Perkins Cove

Visit Perkins Cove

The little village of Perkins Cove lies adjacent to Ogunquit and embodies all the charm one would expect in a waterfront town. This former fishing village is filled with independent boutiques and seafood restaurants. Visitors will find plenty to explore, like toy shops, bric-a-brac stores and shellfish-centric restaurants like the Perkins Cove Lobster Pound. Be sure to stroll across the town's manually operated drawbridge -- it's the perfect place for a photo opp. 960 1280

Ted Whittenkraus  

Hike Mount Agamenticus

Hike Mount Agamenticus

Seek out unique views of Maine?s coast while burning off the lobster rolls you've been enjoying with a hike up Mount Agamenticus. Numerous trails, including the popular Ring Trail and Blueberry Bluff hike, twist through the area and range from moderate to difficult in ability. Views from the mountain top -- it's one of the highest points in the surrounding region -- are spectacular with sweeping vistas of land and sea. 960 1280

Mount Agamenticus Conservation Program  

Ogunquit Museum of Art

Ogunquit Museum of Art

Not your average museum experience, the small but powerful Ogunquit Museum of Art is dedicated to the exhibition and preservation of American art. The museum sits on a cliff with magnificent views overlooking the Narrow Cove and the Atlantic Ocean; thankfully, the museum?s exhibits take advantage of this exceptionally scenic outdoor space. More than 2,000 works of art include pieces by artists such as John Marin, Rockwell Kent and Mark Tobey, and celebrate the heritage of Ogunquit's art colonies. 960 1280

JR P  

Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge

Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge

This sprawling 5,400-acre preserve offers visitors relief from holiday crowds that flock to Ogunquit during the popular summer months. The refuge was established to protect salt marshes, barrier beaches, dunes and estuaries, and is a popular retreat for birders hoping to spy the endangered piping plover. Wildlife watchers may also witness white-tailed deer, moose, snakes, frogs and turtles. 960 1280

Steve Norris / USFWS Volunteer  

Hit the Seas with Finestkind Scenic Cruises

Hit the Seas with Finestkind Scenic Cruises

When you visit the coast, the natural thing to do is hop aboard a boat, right? Book an excursion with Finestkind Scenic Cruises, and see the shoreline from an entirely new perspective. Visitors will learn about lobster fishing (and maybe even see lobsters caught onboard), view the iconic Cape Neddick (Nubble) Lighthouse and catch a glimpse of harbor seals. Wake up early to enjoy the outfitter's breakfast cruise, or book a late afternoon cocktail or sunset cruise to explore Perkins Cove, Bald Head Cliff and Ogunquit Beach. 960 1280

Dean Abrams / Cliff House  

Eat at Barnacle Billy's

Eat at Barnacle Billy's

An Ogunquit legend for more than half a century, Barnacle Billy's has played host to US presidents, politicians, celebrities and NFL superstars. This landmark seafood haunt is known for its lobster (this is Maine, after all!). Order it boiled and buttered in its shell, in a stew or as a lobster roll. Other popular menu options include clam chowder and steamed clams. 960 1280

Indabelle  

Take the Ogunquit Trolley

Take the Ogunquit Trolley

If you like to kick back, relax and let someone do the exploring for you, take a spin on the Ogunquit Trolley. While the trolley serves as a legitimate means of transportation throughout town (and allows visitors to leave their cars at hotels since parking in town can be difficult), the trolley's loop route is a fabulous means of exploring Ogunquit's sights and learning the lay of the land. 960 1280

Todd Van Hoosear  

PNC Festival of Lights at Cincinnati Zoo

PNC Festival of Lights at Cincinnati Zoo

Strolling entertainment awaits visitors to Cincinnati Zoo's Festival of Lights, who will also be privy to a "Wild Lights" show at Swan Lake and a black-light puppet show. It's possible to see the lights from aboard the North Polar Express Train, and pay a visit with Santa -- and Mrs. Claus. 960 1280

  

Wildlights at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Wildlights at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

More than 3 million lights spread holiday cheer to adults and children at the Wildlights celebration. Kids can decorate cookies with Mrs. Claus and get photos with Santa; it's even possible to take a camel ride or whirl around an ice skating rink. 960 1280

Grahm S. Jones  

Zoo Lights 2015 at Denver Zoo

Zoo Lights 2015 at Denver Zoo

The Denver Zoo's holiday light safari leads visitors through 38 acres of dazzling light displays, including more than 150 animal sculptures that leap across lawns, dangle from trees and appear in the most unexpected places. You'll even hear holiday songs from children's and handbell choirs. 960 1280

  

Zoo Lights at Utah's Hogle Zoo

Zoo Lights at Utah's Hogle Zoo

You'll feel festive amidst the 250 illuminated sculptures and displays at Utah's Hogle Zoo. Walk through the 135-foot twinkling tunnel while wearing hologram glasses before riding the carousel or telling Santa what you'd like for Christmas at Santa Station -- with real, live reindeer. 960 1280

  

Lights Before Christmas at Toledo Zoo

Lights Before Christmas at Toledo Zoo

Millions of lights deck the halls -- and trees and lawns -- at the Toledo Zoo, included a dancing lights display near Cheetah Valley. The celebration is marked by carolers, live reindeer, and a glowing ice slide, as well as a buffet-style Festive Feast in The Lodge. 960 1280

  

Houston Zoo Lights

Houston Zoo Lights

Millions of holiday lights are draped in displays throughout the Houston Zoo, and visitors can experience the world from inside a life-size snow globe or stroll through the illuminated African Forest past enormous glowing ornaments. Carolers sing nightly at the Reflecting Pool stage. 960 1280

  

Los Angeles Zoo Lights

Los Angeles Zoo Lights

Those aren't the flashes of LA's paparazzi cameras -- its simply LA's Zoo Lights, designed by Bionic League, who have created light shows for Daft Punk and Kanye West (only in LA, right?). The park fills with LED-sculptures and lasers that visitors can see on a 90-minute self-guided tour. 960 1280

  

SunTrust Zoo Lights at Memphis Zoo

SunTrust Zoo Lights at Memphis Zoo

There's guaranteed to be "snow" at the Memphis Zoo's holiday display; folks looking to see the white stuff can visit Snow Alley, or take a stroll past twinkling light displays to meet Santa in his shop, and even get a peek at his helpful reindeer friends. There's even a Zoo on Ice performance. 960 1280

DONNY_GRANGER  

ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo

ZooLights at Lincoln Park Zoo

More than 2 million lights dazzle ZooLights visitors at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo, and the zoo has made the event an extravaganza beyond the twinkling lumens. Visitors can take a spin around the park's ice skating rink, snap photos with Santa, and watch "arctic artists" carve ice sculptures. 960 1280

Todd Rosenberg  

ZooLights at Oregon Zoo

ZooLights at Oregon Zoo

Ride through the Oregon Zoo in twinkling style aboard the ZooLights train, past more than a million sparkling lights. You'll see tunnels of light near the African Rainforest and can warm up with hot chocolate and the zoo's signature elephant ear treats from vendors along the ZooLights path. 960 1280

  

Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

Zoolights at Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium

Zoolights at Point Defiance bedazzle the Pacific Northwest with more than 500,000 LED lights and animal-themed displays, including a 3-D light display of an entire polar bear family. Visitors can take spin on the zoo'z antique carousel and see scuba diving Santa at the aquarium. 960 1280

  

ZooLights at National Zoo

ZooLights at National Zoo

Visitors to the National Zoo will feel the electrified as more than 500,000 environmentally friendly LED lights fill the park with a sparkly glow. You can warm up with hot chocolate or watch the nightly live performances, while little ones can take a spin on 150-foot-long "snow tubing" tracks. 960 1280

JAMES D JENKINS  

Jungle Bells at San Diego Zoo

Jungle Bells at San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo transforms into a Winter Wonderland, and you can admire the lighted animal sculptures while riding the Twinkle Light Trolley through the zoo. You'll hear Dr. Zoolittle's version of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," hear carolers  sing and gape at Toy Shop Hop acrobats. 960 1280

Photo: Ken Bohn  

ZooLights at Phoenix Zoo

ZooLights at Phoenix Zoo

Feel the glow at the Phoenix Zoo's celebration of nearly 4 million lights, where in addition to the glowing displays, visitors can also experience The Polar Express in 4-D, with special effects like snow and fog. Ice sculptors carve a 300-lb. block of ice and the zoo even has camel and wagon rides. 960 1280

  

Wild Lights at St. Louis Zoo

Wild Lights at St. Louis Zoo

The St. Louis Zoo comes to life after dark with animated Wild Lights displays like the Arctic Wonderland, Swan Lake and fantasy butterfly garden illuminating the property. Storytellers like Tundra Tom spin tales around a fire as visitors stay warming sipping hot cocoa. 960 1280

  

Cole Land Transportation Museum
Cole Land Transportation Museum

Cole Land Transportation Museum

Transport geeks will find themselves close to mecca at Bangor's Cole Land Transportation Museum. This quirky ode to vehicles preserves the history of land transportation equipment in Maine. Take a look-see at the fascinating collection of relic snowplows, logging vehicles and antique fire trucks while gazing at photographs depicting historic Maine. There's even a nifty exhibit of farm equipment used throughout past decades. 960 1280

Cole Land Transportation Museum  

Get Spooked on a Stephen King-Themed Tour

Get Spooked on a Stephen King-Themed Tour

It's only appropriate to pay homage to the Grand Poobah of horror novelists, Stephen King, when visiting his hometown of Bangor. The Greater Bangor Convention & Visitors Bureau offers the "Tommyknockers and More Tour" -- a literary bus tour through town that features spots in Bangor connected to King's writings. 960 1280

Madeleine Holland  

Maine Discovery Museum

Maine Discovery Museum

A visit to the Maine Discovery Museum is a must-do for tourists with tots. This kid-focused museum is Maine's largest museum, and features 3 floors of interactive exhibits and drop-in activities. Children come face-to-face with amazing creatures like geckos, stick bugs and turtles; explore the inner body by crawling through a giant intestine; and pump a heart to watch the circulatory system work. It's even possible to dig and identify fossils while learning about dinosaurs in Maine. 960 1280

Maine Discovery Museum  

Catch a Show at Darling's Waterfront Pavilion

Catch a Show at Darling's Waterfront Pavilion

Set alongside -- you guessed it -- the waterfront, Darling?s Waterfront Pavilion is a scenic spot to catch a concert or settle in to watch a music festival. Music lovers will find that an array of artists perform on the stage at the Pavilion, including Willie Nelson, Brad Paisley and Phish. Other major events held at the venue include a "Tap Into Summer" beer festival, as well as the annual American Folk Festival and the Kahbang Music, Art & Film Festival. 960 1280

Jeff Kirlin, The Thing of the Moment Photography  

Orono Bog Boardwalk

Orono Bog Boardwalk

Bogs are little-heralded but very fascinating environments and Bangor's Orono Bog is no exception. This 600-acre bog is a haven for birdwatchers, and is home to dozens of species, including the double-crested cormorant, white-breasted nuthatch and ospreys. A 1-mile-long boardwalk winds through the bog, allowing visitors to admire the setting while keeping an eye out for wildlife and plant species. 960 1280

Justin Henry  

Bangor City Forest

Bangor City Forest

Explore the great outdoors in Bangor City Forest, a 650-acre spread that includes nearly 10 miles of trails ideal for cross-country skiing, running, snowshoeing, cycling and hiking. Most trails are family-friendly, like the Rabbit Trail or East Trail, but some are more difficult and require skills to maneuver around roots or rocks, like the Bear Trail or Grouse Trail. 960 1280

Justin Henry  

Tap Your Inner Farmer on Open Farm Day

Tap Your Inner Farmer on Open Farm Day

City slickers and country dwellers alike will find much to enjoy during Maine's annual Open Farm Day, when dozens of farms across the state open their doors to visitors. Try your hand at milking a cow; take a barn tour to see the inner workings of a farm; climb aboard a tractor for a hayride; pet cuddly sheep at a petting zoo; and purchase farm-grown products like beef and produce. 960 1280

The Image Bank / Getty Images  

Bangor State Fair

Bangor State Fair

The Bangor State Fair -- the largest state fair in Maine -- promises 10 days of down-home food, fireworks, amusement rides and agricultural competitions like the oxen and steer show. If farm animals aren't your thing, stop by one of the other family-friendly competitions like the lobster roll eating contest or demolition derby. Plan to stay for the evening concert, which has included acts like Grammy Award-winner, John Fogerty. 960 1280

Alexandra Robert  

Visit the Bangor Historical Society

Visit the Bangor Historical Society

Maine's second oldest cultural institution, the Bangor Historical Society, collects, preserves and interprets the state's storied history. Discover the stories of Civil War soldiers from Maine, or take a society-organized walking tour to discover the town's historic architecture. Other tours include a walk through the Mount Hope Cemetery to learn about Bangor's legendary residents of days gone by, as well as a tour that commemorates the devastating Great Fire of 1911. 960 1280

Mount Hope Cemetery Corp.  

Snap a Picture With Paul Bunyan

Snap a Picture With Paul Bunyan

One of Maine's -- and America's -- quirkier attractions, Bangor's 31-foot-tall, 3,700-lb. statue of Paul Bunyan wielding a double-sided axe pays homage to the mythical character who, as it?s rumored, was born here. Indeed, Bangor also claims to be the birthplace of the lumber industry, which was once the town's industry mainstay. Sure, Minnesota also claims to be Bunyan's hometown, but while in Bangor, why not pay your respects to the gentle lumber giant? 960 1280

Aurora / Getty Images  

In: MeetAtTheAirport.com Out: Meet at the Airport Bar
In: MeetAtTheAirport.com
Out: Meet at the Airport Bar

In: MeetAtTheAirport.com
Out: Meet at the Airport Bar

Forget sidling up to the airport bar alone, hoping to make that magical connection with someone during the doldrums of an hours-long layover. The new website MeetAtTheAirport.com gives tech-savvy travelers the chance to, er, hook up with a possibly special someone in advance of bellying up to the bar. Simply register on the site in a few simple steps, and you'll be able to discern other singles traveling through the same airport you're flying through. You'll be able to meet over a coffee or cocktail, or heck, why not really turn things up a notch, and grab a few slices from the food court Sbarro? 960 1280

Thinkstock  

In: Cruise to Exotic Destinations
Out: Cruise to the Caribbean

In: Cruise to Exotic Destinations
Out: Cruise to the Caribbean

No longer are discerning travelers content to sip a mai tai on the starboard deck while watching tried-and-true ports of call like St. Thomas slip by. In fact, cruisers are looking toward destinations once rarely frequented by cruise lines, like the western coast of South America, Northern Europe, India, Africa and the Middle East -- and the cruise industry is responding in kind. In the midst of a definitive spike in the popularity of exotic cruise destinations, for 2013 companies such as Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean have more exciting destinations on the docket than ever before. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

In: Myanmar
Out: Laos

In: Myanmar
Out: Laos

Where once-upon-a-time backpackers to Southeast Asia once heralded Laos for its lush environs, Buddhist culture and fascinating temples, today the nation has become more of a frat party for ill-behaved backpackers getting wasted on a variety of substances and partying along riverbanks. Today, smart travelers are setting their sights elsewhere. In fact, you can barely discuss intrepid travel destinations without someone crying out "Myanmar!" these days. With the lifting of a travel ban imposed on rights activists to the once-fiercely ruled country, travelers have been pouring in. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

In: Eastern Europe
Out: Western Europe

In: Eastern Europe
Out: Western Europe

Oh, we know that Western Europe will never actually lose mass popularity among travelers, nor should it, but at times its prices can be staggering for Americans dealing with a weaker dollar. As 2013 approaches, more and more travelers are seeking out wonders beyond the Roman ruins and Parisian museums. Eastern Europe, once avoided during periods of extreme political upheaval and unrest, is now bubbling up as the go-to destination for many travelers. Take for example, mountainous Slovenia; it's being touted by travel and adventure publications as the new Alps. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

In: Hammams
Out: Spas

In: Hammams
Out: Spas

Scores of travelers take advantage of their vacation downtime to indulge in a spa treatment, typically a soothing Swedish or aromatherapy massage. And yet, that's so 2012. The next trend in restorative treatments is hammams, often referred to as Turkish baths. The traditional hammam experience typically involves stripping down, donning a small towel, loosening up in a steam room and getting the living daylights scrubbed and rubbed out of you by your treatment provider while lying on a marble slab. The whole ordeal is often capped off by a refreshing (albeit, startling) dunk in icy cold water. 960 1280

Levent Konuk  

In: Foraged Cuisine
Out: Non-Organic Foods

In: Foraged Cuisine
Out: Non-Organic Foods

Ever since the Copenhagen restaurant Noma was named 2011's World's Best Restaurant by Restaurant Magazine, foodies have been turning a keen eye toward chef René Redzepi's unique twist on dining: forage cuisine. Wondering what on earth that means? Basically, the chef forages through the region to unearth, obtain and cook unexpected ingredients found in their natural habitats, like mosses, lichens and pine needles. Now, come 2013, it's not unusual to find restaurants such as Elizabeth in Chicago and Atera in New York City following suit. Best part: In this heightened embrace of nature, there's no space for pesticide-sprayed foods. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

In: Philippine Islands
Out: Thai Islands

In: Philippine Islands
Out: Thai Islands

Once upon a time, long, long ago, the young Leonardo DiCaprio starred in The Beach, filmed on Koh Phi Phi, and Thailand's beaches and islands would never be quite the same. As Thai islands have become overrun with backpackers, jacking up prices and leading to oft-crowded party zones on once-secluded beaches, travelers are seeking respite in as-yet-encroached places, such as the Philippine Islands. Head to the Palawan region but head there soon: As tour providers discover the area's growing popularity, more airlines are offering flights to the region, and we'll be again looking for the next epically isolated island experience. 960 1280

  

In: Northern Lights
Out: City Lights

In: Northern Lights
Out: City Lights

Catching a glimpse of the Northern Light's ethereal, dancing lights display, also known as aurora borealis, is the highlight of a lifetime, much less a vacation, for many travelers. The lights can be seen during periods of heightened solar activity, which happens to peak cyclically, every 11 years. Astronomy experts have predicted the lights will reach their next apex between now and April 2013. While a Northern Lights-spotting trip cannot guarantee a successful sighting -- there are certain Northern Hemisphere locations where sightings are more successful than others, such as Greenland, Iceland and parts of Canada. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

In: DIY Vacation Rentals
Out: Pricey Hotels

In: DIY Vacation Rentals
Out: Pricey Hotels

Tired of paying out the wazoo for hotel stays that don't even include the cost of parking, Wi-Fi, breakfast or resort fees? We are too. Luckily, in 2013, there are alternatives for travelers with an open, DIY mindset. Rather than forking over the steep nightly rates of many hotels, travelers, and families in particular, are seeking accommodations through sites such as Airbnb and VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner). These sites allow vacationers to rent furnished condos, apartments or houses directly from their owners. While you might not get daily maid service, you will get steeply discounted rates, sometimes as low as $30 per night. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

In: Sleeping at the Mall
Out: Ignoring the Mall

In: Sleeping at the Mall
Out: Ignoring the Mall

Leave it to the opulent mindset of Middle East hotel developers in places such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia to recognize a possible trend and blow it up, large scale. Today, many hotels are opening in or adjacent to malls, making them an epicenter of tourism and commerce. One of these malls, Abu Dhabi's Yas Mall, is expected to house or be in close proximity to 7 hotels. In fact, at least 9 mega-malls (beyond UAE, in countries such as Lebanon and Qatar), are expected to be built across the Middle East by 2014, with hotels springing up in and around them. 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Djemaa El-Fna, market, Marrakech, Morocco
Djemaa el-Fna, Marrakech, Morocco

Djemaa el-Fna, Marrakech, Morocco

Upon arriving at Djemaa el-Fna, Marrakech's sprawling central market, you’ll feel as though all your senses have been walloped at once. During the day, the square fills with snake charmers, henna tattoo artists and storytellers, while the adjacent souk teems with vendors hawking every imaginable thing, from shoes to lanterns to spices. At night, a food market unfolds, with a maze of vendors grilling meats and other local delicacies, such as sheep heads. 960 1280

Daniel Reiter/Stock4B/Getty Images   

Chatuchak, Bangkok

Chatuchak, Bangkok

Gird your loins for one of the most intense shopping experiences you'll ever have: a visit to Chatuchak, Bangkok's weekend market. As many as 15,000 vendors spread out across 35 acres, selling all kinds of products, including T-shirts, handbags and traditional handicrafts. Arrive hungry; a plethora of food stalls serve a delectable world of treats, from spicy noodle dishes to deep-fried insects. 960 1280

Peter Stuckings/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images  

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

Grand Bazaar, Istanbul, Turkey

Wear your sneakers to the Grand Bazaar; you'll do plenty of walking. The market stretches across 60 streets in the heart of Istanbul and receives as many as 400,000 shoppers daily. You can bargain for antique jewelry and weapons, water pipes, and decorative mirrors. Then, unwind with a strong Turkish coffee and pastry, or visit an on-site hammam to regain your strength.   960 1280

Andrea Pistolesi/Photolibrary/Getty Images  

Camden Market, London

Camden Market, London

Comprising 3 separate markets, London's Camden Market is one of the city's largest, most eclectic and popular shopping enclaves. Head to the Lock section for crafts, or wander the Stables for punk-rock fashion. Savvy shoppers can pick up everything from vintage records to bikes and bean bags. Keep your ears and eyes open; live music and other entertainment abound. 960 1280

Walter Bibikow/Photolibrary/Getty Images  

Chichicastenango Market, Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Chichicastenango Market, Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Known locally as ChiChi Market, this is one of the world's best handicraft markets and a must-see for visitors to Guatemala, many of whom make special trips to the town just to stop at the market. In addition to traditional crafts such as woven bags and tapestries, you'll find hand-painted pottery and food at the many stalls. 960 1280

Michael DeFreitas/Robert Harding World Imagery/Getty Images  

Chandni Chowk, Delhi, India

Chandni Chowk, Delhi, India

If you're traveling through Delhi and have the sudden urge to go native, you'll find a sea of saris, colorful textiles, sparkling bangle bracelets and more at Chandni Chowk. Meander through narrow walkways and alleyways as you admire the goods. If you dare to purchase anything, be prepared to bargain — in Delhi, the act has been lifted to art form. 960 1280

David Freund/Photodisc/Getty Images  

Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo

Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo

Even if you're not a seafood lover, Tokyo's Tsukiji Fish Market is a sight to behold. Arrive early (around 4:30 a.m.) to witness the spectacle. Attend the seafood auction, and wander stalls selling all manner of edible marine life, including monstrous fish and exotic creatures from the deep that you’ll find only in Asia Pacific waters. As for the sushi being sold from some vendors? It's divine.  960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Aluxum  

Khan el-Khalili, Cairo, Egypt

Khan el-Khalili, Cairo, Egypt

Shopping at Cairo's Khan el-Khalili is like strolling through history; the market dates to the 14th century. Ogle the wares in more than 900 shops and stalls, bargaining for traditional handicrafts, jewelry, perfume and ornate glassware. 960 1280

Ian Cumming / Axiom Photographic Agency / Getty Images  

Temple Street Night Market, Hong Kong

Temple Street Night Market, Hong Kong

Few experiences in the world compete with a visit to an Asian night market. Hong Kong's Temple Street is no exception. Make like a local and purchase jade trinkets to ward off evil, bargain for tea sets, get your fortune told by a parrot (yes, a parrot), and eat your way through a maze of food stalls, sampling rice and noodle dishes. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/Nicolas McComber  

Kashgar, China

Kashgar, China

Trying to off-load a horse? Kashgar is the place to do it. There are 20-plus bazaars in Kashgar, and the markets here attract some 200,000 people on the busiest days. Beyond livestock, visitors can shop for all sorts of goods, including vegetables, clothes and textiles, as well as handicrafts. Food plays a central role in Kashgar; indulge in a plate of roasted lamb or kebabs. 960 1280

Feifei Cui-Paoluzzo/Moment/Getty Images  

Pike Place Market, Seattle

Pike Place Market, Seattle

Pike Place has earned its reputation as one of Seattle's top attractions for a reason: This covered market is the nation's oldest and sprawls across nearly 10 acres. The seafood counter, where vendors toss enormous, whole fish to one another, is always a major draw, but also take time to admire booksellers, antique dealers and artisan cheesemakers. 960 1280

iStockphoto.com/James Anderson  

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