Today, there are seven new wonders of the world, including the Great Wall of China, Machu Picchu and the Colosseum. But locations deemed worthy enough to make these lists are far from the only must-see places around the globe. There are countless cities, natural spaces, and historic sites waiting to be explored.
Whether you want to stay in the states or journey overseas, prepare to be inspired by these surprising bucket list destinations:
Photo by Perry Grone
Costa Rica is becoming more and more popular, but the extensive list of experiences that make it such an incredible travel destination is still off the radar for some travelers.
Find your bliss in this land of lush rainforests, volcanoes, natural hot springs, and beaches. For nature lovers, it’s a must-visit. Home to more than 20 natural parks and eight biological reserves, wildlife thrives throughout the country. Imagine spotting sloths and colorful exotic birds in a lush cloud forest among orchids and lush greenery.
If the nature alone doesn’t have you totally enchanted by Costa Rica, the vibrant culture and warm people will.
Photo by Jeremy Bishop
Arizona is known for one of America’s most recognized and visited natural landmarks, the Grand Canyon. While the national park boasts breathtaking panoramic views and one of the most beautiful sunrises you’ll ever see, the state has plenty more to offer, including a hidden treasure just 30 miles from Flagstaff.
Sedona rests among stunning red rock mountains and pine forests. In addition to sunshine and scenery, travelers will find spas, storefronts, galleries and a bustling arts community. There are lots of trails leading to Red Rock State Park, the perfect place to watch for birds and picnic. And don’t forget to check out the popular Slide Rock State Park; the outdoor recreation hub features a natural 80-foot-long waterslide that beckons the young-at-heart, and a beautiful apple orchard promises a crisp and sweet snack.
Photo by Florian Wehde
While this next location might be growing in popularity, Hanoi is still not on the radar for most. But for food-lovers, it should be! Street food is one of the main attractions here. There are plenty of street vendor tours, and most will end with a chance to taste a cup of famous egg coffee—a signature drink in Vietnam. Be sure to try some pho while you’re at it. The noodle soup won’t be like anything you’ve had in the U.S.
When you’re not eating, spend time viewing centuries-old architecture, visiting a few of the temples, and walking the Old Quarter, where narrow and chaotic streets are lined with merchandise. Then, venture to the city’s heart and soul—the picturesque Hoan Kiem Lake. Up for a day trip? Take a cruise to Ha Long Bay, where thousands of limestone karsts and hidden caves promise an unforgettable sailing adventure.
Photo by Nicu Moldovan
When people think safari, Africa is usually the first place that comes to mind. But there are plenty of places around the world that offer an immersive look into wildlife. Some of them are right in your backyard, like Yellowstone National Park. But others, like Transylvania, are just a plane ride away.
The name probably suggests images of vampires and ghouls, but Romania is quickly becoming one of Europe’s top safari destinations. Piatra Craiului National Park is home to chamois, wild boar, pine martens, red squirrels and more. Beyond the stunning wildlife and scenery, travelers will have a chance to see ancient towns like Brasov, with its towering Gothic-style Black Church, as well as scenic Alpine-style villages with wooden farmhouses and horse-drawn carts.
BIG MAJOR CAY, BAHAMAS
We’ve all heard of swimming with dolphins, but what about wild pigs? While there are plenty of popular beaches and resorts in the Bahamas, a trip to Big Major Cay is a perfect bucket list destination. Located in The Exumas, a district of over 365 islands, Big Major Cay (unofficially Pig Beach) boasts uninhabited lands, white sandy beaches, beautiful blue waters and the main attraction—a colony of wild but very friendly—and adorable—pigs!
Pig Beach is a short boat ride from Nassau and George Town. Experienced sailors can opt to rent their own vessel, but less seafaring friends should take a tour, which are often available through hotels and resorts.
CUMBERLAND ISLAND, GEORGIA
Off of Georgia’s southeast coast, Cumberland Island is an unexpectedly beautiful destination. On top of 18 miles of unspoiled beach, where you’ll see plenty of birds and loggerhead turtles, there are various landscapes, including vegetated dunes and meadows, forests, flowing creeks, and salt marshes. These diverse landscapes are home to many species, including alligators and beautiful feral horses (best viewed from afar).
History buffs will want to head north towards the remote end of the island, where the First African Baptist Church and The Settlement still stand. At this location, African-American residents could purchase their first deeded property in the late 1800s. Adding to the island’s rich history are the rustic Dungeness Ruins, which are remains of the largest mansion built on the island for the Carnegie family. This mix of nature and history makes Cumberland Island one for your bucket list destinations.
There is so much waiting to be discovered. Get out there and find it!