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Top Travel Destinations for 2016

If you love travel, there is a lot to look forward to in 2016.  We have put together a list of the up and coming, as well as destinations offering special celebrations!
 

Costa Rica

costa ricaThe beautiful Central American country of Costa Rica has been up and coming the past several years, setting a new record of 2.6 million visitors in 2015 and the new year will only bring more curious tourists. Costa Rica occupies a privileged spot in the heart of Central America. While its territory of 19,652 square miles touches both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, the country is amazingly accessible.  One can travel from coast to coast in just three hours by car or 45 minutes by plane. The Caribbean region of Costa Rica stands out for its variety of aquatic ecosystems and its beautiful white and black sand beaches, providing an ideal setting for activities such as sport fishing, snorkeling, and sun bathing.
 

Iran

iranMany Americans are eager to visit Iran, and now that sanctiosn have been lifted travel is easier than ever. Iran is full of historic towers, mosques and squares, especially in the ancient city of Esfahan. Persepolis, not far from the city of Shiraz, holds some of the most striking pre-Christian ruins outside of Egypt and Peru. Both destinations are well removed from the Iraq and Afghanistan border zones, which the U.S. State Department urges travelers to avoid. Tehran, the capitol, is more modern and includes many museums. To get there, Americans will fly to Istanbul, then continue on to Tehran or Esfahan.
 
 

U.S. National Parks

Yosemite National_Park WaterfallWith the National Park Service commemorating its 100th anniversary in 2016, there has never been a better time to explore America’s majestic national parks. Throughout 2016, all parks will celebrate the centennial with activities and initiatives that allow visitors to revel in their natural, historical, and cultural splendor.  You can take scenic drives through Great Smoky Mountains National Park, climb the soaring peaks at Rocky Mountain National Park, raft along the raging Colorado River at the Grand Canyon, spot wildlife in Grand Teton National Park, or hike by otherworldly rock formations at Badlands National Park.   The awe-inspiring landscapes and ample recreational opportunities make a trip to any of the United States’ national parks a thrilling adventure. If you plan to visit several national parks in 2016, consider purchasing an America the Beautiful Annual Pass.  This $80 pass gains you entrance to all national parks and national wildlife refuges.
 

Dublin, Ireland

trinity college dublinA hundred years ago, Dublin’s Easter Rising launched Ireland on a path to independence from British rule. The armed insurrection brought bloody results, including the execution of 16 leaders, and in 1922 the Irish Free State was established.  Dozens of centennial events are planned in Dublin, including an exhibition at the National Library of Ireland, lectures at Trinity College and various historical reenactments. The National Museum of Ireland will unveil “Proclaiming a Republic: the 1916 Rising” on March 3. On Easter Sunday, March 27, at 1:15 p.m., wreath-laying ceremonies are planned at spots throughout the city.
 

Cartagena, Colombia

Cartagena Colombia
This coastal colonial city is far safer than it was in the dark days of Colombia’s internal strife at the turn of the 21st century. The colonial city center is rich with boutique hotels and restaurants made from old homes. Cartagena is a gorgeous fishing village on Colombia’s Caribbean coast with excellent beaches, a historic old town, and beautiful colonial architecture. It’s also one of the safest places in the country, so it’s no wonder it’s a popular port of call for cruise ships. Instead of arriving by way of Bogotá or Medellin, many U.S. travelers now fly straight to Cartagena from New York’s JFK, Ft. Lauderdale, or Atlanta.
 
 

Stratford-Upon-Avon, England

stratford england2016 marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespear’s death, and the great playwright’s hometown makes an especially ripe destination.  The Royal Shakespeare Co., with two theaters in Stratford, will mount productions of “Hamlet,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Cymbeline” and “Don Quixote.”  Stratford is home to Shakespeare’s birthplace and grave.  A “Shakespeare’s Schoolroom” attraction is to open in April in the city’s 15th century Guildhall, and April 23, the day of his birth and death, will be especially full of entertainment.
 
 

San Sebastián, Spain

san sebastian, spain
This city, part of the Basque Autonomous Community on Spain’s northern coast, is one of Europe’s two 2016 cities of culture.  San Sebastián also has a long roster of civic celebrations, including notable festivals of jazz in July and film in September.  Stroll the creamy sands of Concha and Ondarreta beaches. Take a boat ride to uninhabited Isla Santa Clara. Try surfing at Zurriola Beach. Learn the word pintxo (peen-cho), which are the small plates that figure prominently in Basque cuisine. Bilbao, home to the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum, is about 65 miles to the east.
 
 

Natchez, Mississippi

Natchez, MississippiThis small Mississippi city, about 170 miles upriver from New Orleans, celebrates its 300th anniversary in 2016. Natchez is on a bluff above the Mississippi and full of tragic, surprising history and elegant architecture. It’s also the southwestern end of the Natchez Trace Parkway, a 444-mile scenic highway through Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee that was once a Native American trail. No billboards, no businesses, no commercial vehicles but plenty of cars and bicycles. Natchez has home and plantation tours; horse-drawn carriages; art galleries; a Museum of African-American History and Culture; more than 40 bed-and-breakfasts and Natchez National Historical Park. The city’s birthday celebration at Ft. Rosalie, Aug. 3, will feature a 300-gun salute.
 

Myanmar

myanmarThe allure of its historic culture and scenery has never been in doubt. And now, after decades as an outcast nation controlled by the military, it’s edging toward the mainstream. Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon, is full of faded grandeur that will remind some people of an Asian Havana. The Shwedagon Pagoda is a 335-foot golden spire crowned with diamonds, rubies and sapphires, which is the nation’s most revered Buddhist site. The plains of Bagan, along the Irrawaddy River, are dotted with hundreds of 11th to 13th century temples. Irrawaddy cruises between Mandalay and Bagan are offered by Avalon Waterways, Belmond, Viking River Cruises and others. Lodging can be buggy and rustic, and infrastructure is shaky, but change is coming.
 

Adelaide, Australia

adelaide, australiaAdelaide is an off the beaten path Australian city for lovers of food, wine, and the arts.  Once overshadowed by flashier cities like Sydney and Melbourne, Adelaide has recently emerged as one of Australia’s most vibrant and surprising destinations. This laid-back capital of South Australia enchants visitors with its world-class arts festivals, thriving culinary scene, abundant parkland, pedestrian-friendly downtown, and top-notch shopping. The hip, high-end eateries that have popped up in the city center speak to Adelaide’s status as an emerging culinary hot spot, and foodies will revel in the famed Central Market, where they can wander through stalls overflowing with freshly caught seafood, kangaroo meat, and local cheeses.  Other points of interest include the Art Gallery of South Australia, the Migration Museum, and South Australian Museum. Adelaide offers easy access to the Barossa Valley, one of Australia’s most celebrated and scenic wine valleys, just an hour northeast of the city.  In February and March, visitors can choose from three exceptional events: the Adelaide Festival of Arts, Australia’s oldest arts festival; the Adelaide Fringe Festival, during which costumed performers wander the streets; and the WOMAdelaide Festival, a celebration of world music that draws nearly 100,000 visitors. During the summer, Adelaide hosts renowned arts festivals seemingly every weekend.

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