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Where to Go and What to Do in 2015

Where to Go and What to Do in 2015

Where to Go and What to Do in 2015

This is the year you see the world.

Maybe you didn't get to travel enough in 2014, or you're looking for something new. The following are trips that will make your Instagram followers really jealous. 

1. See the Northern Lights
You truly don't know how beautiful the Northern Lights are until you catch them dancing in front of you. Here in North America, you can see the lights fairly well in the northern U.S. and Canada. But if you're more interested in using your passport, Iceland is a wonderfully strange place where to watch them. Fellow Scandinavian countries like Denmark, Norway, and Sweden are also fantastic, safe, interesting places for gays to travel, and catching the Northern Lights there is an unparalleled experience.


2. Take an epic train trip

Vancouver to Montreal? Chicago to New Orleans? Los Angeles to Seattle? Sure you could fly those routes in a couple of hours, but why not slow things down and take the train? The best options are long-range trips, with options to hop on and off, while traveling in a top-notch private rail car. Options include the Southern Spirit, which takes riders through the Australian outback, while the Hiram Bingham brings you to the Peruvian ruins. And in case you thought the Orient Express was a thing of the past, it ain't


3. Get pampered

Two words: spa weekend. There's nothing like a relaxing weekend of rubdowns and scrub-downs. These things are all over the place. You can go to Iceland and sit in a mineral-rich pools out in nature, or chill with your boyfriend at a blissful B&B a few hours away from home. Some options: TK


4. Get adventurous

Cities like Boulder, Colo., have tons of outdoor activities like whitewater rafting, mountain biking, public hiking trails, snowboarding, backpacking, ice climbing, kayaking, skiing, and snowboarding. For a heart-pumping international expedition, try Queenstown, New Zealand, which accurately bills itself as the adventure capital of the world. Bungee jumping? Helicoptering onto the top of a glacier? Paragliding? Off-roading? Riversurfing? Yeah, they got all of that plus way, way more. 

Is an Wild-like trek in order? There's the Pacific Crest Trail (2,650 miles from California through Oregon and Washington), the Appalachian Trail (2,180 miles from Maine to Georgia), and a few others sprinkled throughout the United States. Then there's the quirky and naturally gorgeous Patagonia region in Chile, which attracts backpackers far and wide. In any case, just bring your GoPro. And a helmet. 


5. Try a foodie pilgrimage

If you want to stay domestic, there's Portland, Ore.'s eclectic range of high-end and low-end  restaurants and food carts, as well as Charleston, S.C.'s vast array of southern comfort food. On the international front, Thailand has plenty of inexpensive and exotic food options, especially in Bangkok, where you can dine like a queen or hang out in a street market with the locals. Barcelona is probably the best food city I've been to in all of Europe. Every restaurant offers its own spin on tapas, jamón, y paella so you better be ready to chow down. Make sure to wash it down con tinto.

If you're more into wine pairings, the Napa Valley region in California is right at the source — the downtown area is going through a revitalization, and there are more than 30 venues that offer wine tastings right there; there's even a wine train and a cycling wine tour! If suds are your thing, San Diego, Bend, Ore., Bellingham, Wash., Brooklyn, and Tampa, Fla., are hotbeds of new beers with breweries sprouting up all over the place. Or go to Germany's world-famous Oktoberfest.

6. Go somewhere completely new (to most Americans)

Cuba! To many of us, Cuba has always been a mysterious, off-limits Caribbean isle. The infrastructure to accommodate mass tourism isn't quite there yet (small groups have been permitted for years, and licensed tours have been in business for Americans since 2011). But now that President Obama has announced the easing of restrictions between Cuba and the U.S., this all might change. The island, which was once a haven for American travelers in the early 20th-century, is expected to see a boom in the coming years.

Not so big on Cuba? You could also try one of the newest countries in the world like Kosovo, Palau, or the newish-Czech Republic (the region's history goes back for centuries, of course, but the country itself is only 21). 


7. Take a heritage trip

A couple of years ago, I took a very fun trip to Puerto Rico with my family to dig around old records about our family. We learned a bit and got to see the neighborhood my grandfather worked and grew up in before migrating to Brooklyn, where he met my grandmother. I highly recommend a trip like this if you're into things like, family trees, census data, and DNA cheek swabs.

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Michelle Garcia