2013 Travel Hot Spots

1.    Istria, Croatia

 Why is it that no one ever lists Croatia as a place to visit?  Dozens of empires, from the early Romans to the Hapsburg Dynasty, have influenced historical Istria. Nearby attractions include Pula, the largest city in Istria County, where tourists can enjoy its rich winemaking countryside, fish, and sail. This is a place meant for a more mature or laid-back crowd who enjoy taking in the landscape and sipping locally aged wine. This place is a must-see for anyone who appreciates beautiful landscapes and architecture.

2.    Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka

One of my fondest memories of traveling with my family is our trip to Kalpitiya, Sri Lanka, where I stayed at hotel Udekki. As I’m sure everyone knows, Sri Lanka suffered from a devastating tsunami in 2004. It has since rebuilt a lot of its attractions, which are aimed at luring back tourists. But, the natural disaster could not take away the beautiful beaches and a sky that makes you forget all your cares in the world. Sri Lanka lands on the list because it’s one of very few places on Earth where anyone can be entertained without spending a lot of money. The prices for food and other recreational items are extremely affordable. Local attractions, like the Ruwala Nature & Adventure Park and beaches for water skiing, make this hot spot one of the best values on the list as almost nothing beats a view that is just a few steps away from the Indian Ocean.

3.    Istanbul, Turkey

Much like Istria, Istanbul served as the center for several powerful empires since its founding. It was once the capital for the Roman Empire, the Byzantium Empire, the Latin Empire, and the Ottoman Empire. That means there are a lot of attractions within this city that reflect the rich history of four great periods in human history. The historic part of Istanbul features museums, churches, and other buildings that boast some of the world’s best architectural feats.  My personal favorite museum is the Hagia Sophia, with it’s massive dome that sheds some light into the magnificent display of Byzantium style and ornaments. If you’re not a fan of history, there is a pretty amazing aquarium, a dolphin exhibit, and a modern shopping area where dozens of restaurants offer authentic European fare.

4.    Sequoia, California

Sequoia National Park is California’s best-kept secret. Yosemite is one of the most popular state parks in the United States, but Sequoia offers the same amount of activities like hiking, rock climbing, and camping. It also boasts some of the best rafting in the West. This is all without the insane amount of traffic like that found at Yosemite. Other attractions close by include Rainbow Falls and Devil’s Postpile National Monument. You do have to be the outdoorsy type to appreciate this hot spot, but it’s truly a great place to take in some fresh air and maybe take the family dog…just watch out for coyotes.

5.    Grindavík, Iceland       

The Blue Lagoon Spa in Iceland is a huge attraction for those who are looking to treat themselves to a little luxury. This geothermal spa, with minerals like silica, offers natural therapeutic skin treatments and relaxing massage packages. This oasis continues its holistic health and beauty theme by offering healthy food choices, like sushi and skin-friendly fruits and vegetables. Despite this spa serving as a public bath of sorts, the Blue Lagoon has a strict policy on cleanliness and hygiene, as they require all guests to shower before and after entering into the Lagoon.

If you are looking to improve the overall health of your skin, nosh on some superfoods, and enjoy a long-overdue massage, then the Blue Lagoon Spa in Grindavík, Iceland is the spot for you.

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