50 Places You Should Visit Before You Turn 50 from 50 Places You Should Visit Before You Turn 50

50 Places You Should Visit Before You Turn 50

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50 Places You Should Visit Before You Turn 50

Turning 50 years old is a major milestone that can make you reevaluate your life. While some people get depressed or go into a mid-life crisis panic at the prospect of reaching half a century, others know it's a cause for celebration! If you or someone you love is about to turn 50, what better way to kick off this next phase of life than with an epic trip that ticks off a big bucket-list destination. But how do you choose where to go?

We put together a list of destinations that are sure to inspire, reinvigorate, and surprise you ahead of your golden jubilee.  These places have something to offer every kind of traveler, so you can choose a vacation location that is right for you or for the person in your life that you want to celebrate with before the big 5-0. Whether you're looking to see one of the wonders of the ancient world, marvel at amazing natural phenomena, or experience new cuisines and cultures, here are 50 suggestions for must-visit places around the world that you need to see before you turn 50.

Great Pyramid of Giza (Egypt)

Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt

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The only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world that’s still intact is the Great Pyramid of Giza. Egypt's largest and most technically exceptional feat of engineering is a must-visit. The Great Pyramid is made of more than 2 million blocks of stone, some of which are so large and heavy that scholars still debate how exactly the ancient Egyptians were able to build the structure by hand.

Great Barrier Reef (Australia)

The Great Barrier Reef - Australia

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If you haven't yet visited the Great Barrier Reef, there's no time like the present. That's because this natural wonder is being threatened with destruction due to coral bleaching. With 3,000 individual reefs spread along 900 islands, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world and the only living thing that’s visible from space. See the barrier from afar by skydiving above it or taking a helicopter tour. Or get up close and personal to the reefs and the thousands of animal species that call it home by exploring some of the best scuba diving and snorkeling sites in the world.

The Northern Lights (Fairbanks, Alaska)

The Northern Lights - Fairbanks, Alaska

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While the aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights, can be seen the United States, Canada, Iceland, Greenland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia. Latitude, longitude, time of year and clarity of the sky are all important in determining where to view this amazing natural display. Fairbanks, Alaska, is considered the best viewing place in the United States as it has its own Aurora Borealis Forecast System to guarantee optimal viewing.

Angkor (Cambodia)

Angkor - Cambodia

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The largest religious complex in the world is Angkor in Cambodia, a series of 1,000 temples with the famous Angkor Wat as the most famous. Originally a Hindu temple, Angkor Wat has been in continuous use since it was built almost 1,000 years ago. The well-preserved temple’s architecture is complex, distinct and majestic as it's meant to be an earthly model of the cosmic world.

Grand Canyon (Arizona)

Grand Canyon - Arizona

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The Grand Canyon is considered one of the seven wonders of the natural world and is one of the deepest canyons in the world, offering unrivaled views. Intrepid explorers can traverse the canyon by hiking or white-water rafting or tackle the dangerous Bright Angel Trail by mule. You can also simply marvel at the majesty of the canyon along the rim.

 

The Himalayas

The Himalayas

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About 1,200 people try to climb Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, every year, with only about 50 percent reaching the summit. The achievement is costly and requires extreme fitness and endurance, but the breathtaking views of the Himalayan mountain range — which is situated within China, India, Pakistan, and Nepal — can also be experienced on less intense treks and hikes. A trip to the Himalayas also allows you to explore a variety of local cultures and cuisines, spot wildlife such as snow leopards and red pandas, and visit Buddhist monasteries.

Route 66 (United States)

Route 66 - United States

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Driving the legendary 2,400 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica is one of the most iconic adventures you can undertake. Many stops on the route preserve its unique sense of Americana. Along the way you’ll also find stunning panoramas, charming towns, mom-and-pop businesses, rocky cliffs, and beautiful deserts and parks. While it's not right on the route, the Grand Canyon is just a short distance from the Mother Road, so you can tick you must-sees off your list in one go.

Palace of Versailles (Versailles, France)

Palace of Versailles - Versailles, France

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If you've yet to to visit the Palace of Versailles, it is one of the most famous and opulent palaces in the world. The residence of French royalty for more than 100 years until the French Revolution in 1789, the sprawling palace outside of Paris has 700 rooms, 1,250 fireplaces and 67 staircases. The stunning chateau includes royal apartments, a museum, manicured gardens, an opera, a chapel and the famous Hall of Mirrors.

Great Wall of China (China)

The Great Wall of China - China

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An architectural marvel and the longest wall in the world, the Great Wall of China is an awe-inspiring sight that should be on every traveler's bucket list. The wall is more than 2,000 years old, and you can spend hours exploring each section and taking in its views. The Badaling section might be the best preserved, but it's also closest to Beijing, meaning it gets the most crowded. Head to one of the other 9 or so sections to have a less cramped and more unique experience of the wall.

Antarctica

Antarctica

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Visiting all seven continents has never been easier, as Antarctica, the remote southern tip of the world, is becoming much more accessible to tourists. With no native people, the draw of Antarctica is its unspoiled, bare beauty, including icebergs and glaciers as well as wildlife such as whales, seals and penguins.

Redwood National and State Parks (Northern California)

Redwood National and State Parks - California

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California’s Redwood National and State Parks are home to some of the tallest trees on Earth, including Hyperion, the tallest known living tree in the world at more than 380 feet. Other stunning sights in the parks include a rare albino redwood and three massive drive-through trees.

Vatnajokull Glacier and National Park (Iceland)

Vatnajokull Glacier and National Park - Iceland

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Iceland's Vatnajokull is the largest glacier in Europe. Its landscape is serene and otherworldly, but the best way to explore the glacier is by going inside of it. You can hike inside a series of ice caves that form during the winter when the glacier shrinks back after it freezes through. This leaves a series of tunnels through which hikers can see the breathtaking crystal blue ice illuminated by the sunlight outside.

 

Serengeti National Park (Tanzania)

Serengeti National Park - Tanzania

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One of the most amazing places in the world to experience wildlife is Serengeti National Park in Tanzania. It is famous as a viewing site for the extraordinary Great Migration of herds of wildebeest and zebras. On top of that, Serengeti is one of the best places to spot animals, as it has the densest lion population in the world and is home to all of the "Big Five" African animals.

Iguazu Falls (Argentina and Brazil)

Iguazu Falls - Argentina and Brazil

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A string of 275 waterfalls stretch for almost 2 miles along the border between Argentina and Brazil formed by the Iguazu River. The system's tallest waterfall stands twice as high as Niagara Falls. The falls are also surrounded by a verdant rainforest teeming with wildlife. You can hike close to the falls or ride on a speedboat that will take you right underneath.

Taj Mahal (Agra, India)

Taj Mahal - Agra, India

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The Taj Mahal is a world-famous landmark for good reason. The embellished white marble complex, which emperor Shah Jahan commissioned for his wife in 1632, is considered a masterpiece of Mughal architecture and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Despite the crowds of tourists that flock there every day, taking in the building’s story while basking in its radiance is a spiritual experience that can’t be missed.

Petra (Jordan)

Petra, Jordan

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Petra is an amazing archaeological city carved from pink sandstone roughly 2,000 years ago, earning it the nickname "the Rose City." The World Heritage Site is comprised of a series of caves, temples, tombs and the iconic elaborate ruins of the Treasury, all created by a nomadic desert people who were later conquered by the Roman empire. The city was abandoned, but its ruins were rediscovered in 1812.

Niagara Falls (United States and Canada)

Niagara Falls - United States and Canada

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The most famous waterfall in North America is Niagara Falls, which is actually a group of three falls on the international border between Canada and New York state. One of these, Horseshoe Falls, is the most powerful waterfall on the continent. More than 6 million cubic feet of water goes over the crest of the falls every minute, making for an epic sight.

Jaipur (India)

Jaipur, India

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Another can't-miss, rose-hued city is Jaipur, capital of the Indian state of Rajasthan. Jaipur is nicknamed the "Pink City" for the colors of the buildings in the Old City. It's home to dazzling historic buildings, fortesses and temples as well as modern bazaars where you can shop for ornate handmade goods and textiles.

Galapagos Islands (Ecuador)

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

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The Galapagos Islands are home to amazing, diverse animals that can’t be seen anywhere else in the world. The remote volcanic islands, which are part of Ecuador, are located in the Pacific Ocean. They are all part of a national park and are considered by UNESCO to be a “living museum and showcase of evolution.” Experience the islands' stunning biodiversity up close by snorkeling, scuba diving and hiking around the islands.

Douro Valley (Portugal)

Douro Valley - Portugal

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The Douro Valley is the exclusive home of Portugal’s port wine production, with a more than 2,000-year history. The region was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001. For port novices and experts alike, a pilgrimage here is a must. Many vineyards offer tours, winemaking demonstrations and the chance to pick and crush the grapes yourself during harvest time.

Kyoto (Japan)

Kyoto, Japan

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The former capital of Japan, Kyoto is home to more than 2,000 ancient temples and shrines, surrounded by lush gardens, including the breathtaking Sagano Bamboo Forest. Kyoto keeps Japanese cultural traditions alive and is the place to enjoy traditional customs and arts and crafts. The dining scene is also spectacular with delicious options ranging from street food to Michelin-starred restaurants.

Machu Picchu (Peru)

Machu Picchu - Peru

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Machu Picchu has fascinated the world since its rediscovery in 1911. Its an impressive man-made creation that was constructed by the Incan Empire in the 15th century before being abandoned after the Spanish conquest. The series of terraces are connected by more than 3,000 stone steps, a journey that's more than worth it for exceptional views of human ingenuity.

Athens (Greece)

Athens, Greece

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Athens is one of the oldest cities in the world and a must-visit for history buffs. As the heart of ancient Greece, Athens is home to significant sites such as the Acropolis, the Parthenon, the Temple of Olympian Zeus, the Agora and the Erechtheion. The Panathenaic Stadium is an all-marble reconstruction of the ancient stadium that was the birthplace of the Olympic games. The modern Panathenaic Stadium hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the first contemporary Olympics in 1896.

Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park (Kauai, Hawaii)

Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park - Kauai, Hawaii

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The 17-mile stretch known as the Na Pali Coast on the Hawaiian island of Kauai is a national park with breathtaking natural beauty. The 11-mile Kalalau foot trail is a difficult hike, but the reward is unparalleled views of isolated waterfalls, beaches and lush river valleys. Some describe it as one of the best hikes in the world.

St. Petersburg (Russia)

St. Petersburg, Russia

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Founded by Peter the Great in 1703, St. Petersburg was the capital of Imperial Russia until 1918. The city is a living monument to Imperial and Soviet history, and much of the landmark architecture has remained largely unchanged since the 19th century. The historic city center is filled with significant sights that are altogether considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Notable landmarks include the Peterhof Grand Palace, the Bronze Horseman, the Church of Our Savior of the Spilled Blood and the Hermitage Museum, the second-largest art museum in the world.

The Amazon River (South America)

The Amazon River - South America

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The Amazon River is a mighty body of water. It’s the largest river in the world based on the volume of water it moves (one-fifth off all the running water on Earth) and the second-longest river in the world. It would stretch the distance from New York City to Rome. The majority of the Amazon Basin is in Brazil, but it also winds through seven other countries. Instead of visiting a town near the river, the best way to experience the river is on it. Traveling the river by boat, you’ll experience the wilds of a rainforest that’s home to a third of all the animal species in the world.

Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia)

Salar de Uyuni - Bolivia

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The world's largest salt flat, Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, is an otherworldly sight. It stretches more than 4,000 square miles and is devoid of wildlife or vegetation. It's known for its extreme flatness and clear skies, which creates a dreamy, mirror-like reflective surface in the wet season and a pattern of polygonal cracks in the dry season.

Napa Valley, California

Napa Valley, California

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The heart of California wine country, Napa Valley is home to 400 wineries. Besides Michelin-starred restaurants and world-class wine tastings, visitors can have amazing experiences, including grape stomping at harvest time as well as winemaking and wine pairing classes. The verdant vineyards are perfect for taking in by train, bike, horse, gondola, cable car or hot air balloon.

 

Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)

Yellowstone National Park - Wyoming

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The world's first national park, Yellowstone National Park is home to about 60 percent of the world’s geysers, including one of the most famous, Old Faithful. This highly reliable geyser has lived up to its nickname, erupting every 60 to 110 minutes and shooting water a staggering 100 to 180 feet into the air. Other amazing sights at Yellowstone are the Grand Prismatic Spring, multiple waterfalls, and opportunities to see wildlife like bison and gray wolves.

Volcanoes National Park (Rwanda)

Volcanoes National Park - Rwanda

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Mountain gorillas are the rarest primate in the world, with only a few hundred living in the wild. Their population is spread across the Congo, Uganda and Rwanda, with the majority of the population living in Rwanda’s Volcanoes National Park. This area, where gorilla researcher Dian Fossey of “Gorillas in the Mist” fame lived, is a great place to go gorilla trekking. It requires hiking in high altitudes through dense jungle, but the reward of encountering gorillas in their family units is worth it for any wildlife lover.

Denali National Park and Preserve (Alaska)

Denali - Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska

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Alaska's Denali, formerly known as Mount McKinley, is the highest mountain peak in North America. When measured from base to peak, it is the tallest mountain on Earth, beating out Mount Everest by about 6,000 feet. One of the “Seven Summits,” it is a must-climb for mountaineers. Experience is required to tackle it, but the reward is a once-in-a-lifetime experience and awe-inspiring views.

Cappadocia (Turkey)

Cappadocia, Turkey

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The Turkish region of Cappadocia is famous for its otherworldly beauty, such as the tall, conical rock formations nicknamed “fairy chimneys.” One way to take in this fantastical geological phenomenon is a hot air balloon ride. Back on ground level, explore valleys, caves, rock-cut churches and underground cities, all with amazing history.

Mount Rushmore (South Dakota)

Mt. Rushmore - South Dakota

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A national memorial and an American icon, Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills of South Dakota features the 60-foot-high faces of U.S. presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Originally conceived as a way to promote tourism in the region, the sculpture is a majestic symbol of the country’s storied past as well as an impressive artistic feat.

Rome (Italy)

Rome, Italy

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Rome is a living museum with over 3,000 years of artistic and cultural icons to experience. Home to the Colosseum, the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, St. Peter's Basilica and more, Rome has a rich heritage as well as lively modern scene for dining, art and shopping.

 

Lake Louise (Banff National Park, Canada)

Lake Louise - Banff National Park, Canada

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Lake Louise, located in Banff National Park, is considered the hiking capital of Canada during the summer and a downhill skiing destination in the winter. There are almost 125 miles of trails, many of which start at high elevations, guaranteeing spectacular panoramic views. The lake itself was formed from a melted glacier, and its striking clear-blue waters are contrasted by its surroundings of snow-capped mountains and glaciers.

The Cliffs of Moher (Ireland)

The Cliffs of Moher - Ireland

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A 5-mile stretch of cliffs along the Irish coast are the island’s most visited site. Europe’s westernmost point, the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare are famous for their staggering height and jaw-dropping views. They are also a famous filming location, appearing in “The Princess Bride” as the Cliffs of Insanity as well as “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.”

Stonehenge (England)

Stonehenge - England

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For history and archaeology buffs, visiting this world-famous prehistoric stone monument on Salisbury Plain is a surreal experience. Visit around sunrise or sunset for a truly otherworldly feeling, and make sure to take a guided tour of Stonehenge to learn about the site's scientific and mystical history.

Volcanoes National Park (Hawaii)

Volcanoes National Park - Hawaii, Hawaii

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No visit to Hawaii would be complete without a visit to Volcanoes National Park to see the islands’ two giant, active volcanoes. Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes in the world; it has erupted continuously since 1983. Its neighbor, Mauna Loa, is the world's biggest above-water volcano and has been estimated to have been erupting for 700,000 years. Visitors to the park can see lava flows and peer into the bubbling openings of the volcanoes. The park was temporarily closed in 2018 due to earthquakes and eruptions, but it has reopened.

Empire State Building (New York, New York)

Empire State Building - New York, New York

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New York City is a world-famous metropolis bursting with history, art, culture, fine dining and more. But no trip there would be complete without visiting Manhattan’s Empire State Building, New York City’s (if not the country’s) most famous skyscraper. Comprising 102 stories and standing a total of 1,454 feet, it was the world’s tallest building for 40 years after it was completed in 1931. A National Historic Landmark and one of the the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Seven Wonders of the Modern World, the building’s 86th- and 102nd-floor observation areas offer 360-degree views of NYC.

Crater Lake National Park (Oregon)

Crater Lake National Park - Oregon

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An underrated U.S. national park compared to Yellowstone or Yosemite, Crater Lake National Park in Oregon has the deepest lake in the United States. Its depth, along with the fact that it's filled almost entirely by snowfall and not much else, makes it one of the clearest, bluest lakes anywhere in the world.

Havana (Cuba)

Havana, Cuba

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Despite restrictions, you can still easily and cheaply travel to Cuba through a variety of legal avenues. The capital city is a must-visit for its pastel-hued vintage cars and buildings and as the cultural heart of the country. Learn about Cuba's unique artistic history at the the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and explore its future at the Fabrica de Arte Cubano.

Munich (Germany)

Munich, Germany

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The capital of Bavaria, Munich is a hub of Germany's automobile making and beer brewing industries. BMW is headquartered there, and you can visit the BMW museum, take a driving lesson from a pro and rent any BMW production model by the hour to take them for a spin. If you don't mind crowds in the millions, visit during Oktoberfest to experience a beer tradition like no other. During any other time of year, you can spend an entire trip exploring the city's beer halls and gardens.

Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco, California)

Golden Gate Bridge - San Francisco, California

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The Golden Gate is the strait connecting San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean, and the bright red-orange suspension bridge that spans it has become an iconic symbol of California, the West Coast and the United States. Described as “the bridge that couldn’t be built” because of the forces working against it, the Golden Gate Bridge was successfully completed in 1937 and has become the most photographed bridge in the world.

Patagonia (Argentina and Chile)

Patagonia - Argentina and Chile

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Patagonia is the region at the Southernmost tip of South America known for its penguin population and rugged, wintery landscape. Its sights include the UNESCO World Heritage-designated Perito Moreno Glacier, which you can hike inside, the green Laguna Verde lagoon, and multiple volcanoes, including Ojos del Salado, the highest active volcano in the world.

Easter Island (Chile)

Easter Island - Chile

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Easter Island is one of the most remote islands in the world, and its almost 900 monumental statues, called moai, made by the Rapa Nui people, have captivated the imagination of outsiders. They average 13 feet tall and weigh 14 tons, enduring testaments to ancient Polynesian society. Besides these mystical sculptures, Easter Island also has pink sand beaches, volcanic cones, snorkeling, surfing and more.

 

Mount Fuji (Japan)

Mt. Fuji - Japan

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Japan's iconic Mount Fuji is one of the best places in the country to see its famous spring cherry blossoms. The mountain provides a majestic backdrop for the amazing floral display, with Chureito Pagoda and the north shores of Lake Kawaguchiko in the the Fuji Five Lakes region both providing viewing spots with lovely vistas.

Bourbon Trail (Kentucky)

The Bourbon Trail - Kentucky

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If you're a spirits fan, the perfect celebration for your 50th birthday would be to tackle the Kentucky Bourbon Trail, an itinerary to explore the distilleries that form the heart of America's bourbon industry. From big names like Jim Beam and Evan Williams to micro and craft distilleries, the tour encompasses the variety of the region and offers different experiences and workshops.

Marrakech (Morocco)

Marrakech, Morocco

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The culturally rich city of Marrakech, Morocco, is dotted with ornate palaces and gardens. Stroll through the colorful, bustling street markets, explore the nearby Sahara or Atlas Mountains and stay in a riad, a traditional Moroccan courtyard house, to experience this lively, modern city.

The Dead Sea (Jordan and Israel/Palestine)

The Dead Sea - Israel

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Named because its salt content is too high for fish to live in, the Dead Sea, which is really a lake bordering Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west, is also the lowest point on Earth. Its southwestern shore touches the Negev Desert near the ancient fortress of Masada, and the Dead Sea is surrounded by interesting history and modern spa amenities on top of being a unique natural phenomenon.

Paris, France

Paris, France

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If you haven't been to the City of Light, you're missing out on all the history, art, culture and food that France's capital has to offer. The Louvre is the largest art museum in the world and home to the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and other world-famous works. The city is full of iconic sights such as the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, and Notre Dame Cathedral, which are just a few of the many reasons Paris is one of the most fun-filled cities in the world.

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