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North Carolina's coast and 300 miles of barrier island beaches are filled with lovely state parks, top restaurants and world-class golf courses. Cape Fear's beaches attract surfers. Wilmington's downtown contains fine antebellum homes and exciting shopping and dining. The wind-swept Outer Banks offer historic lighthouses, mysterious Roanoke Island and the Wright Brothers National Memorial. Cape Hatteras National Seashore offers hiking, biking and fishing. Ferry trips link islands with the mainland.
Relax beachside or stroll the boardwalk in the beautiful oceanside community of Hollywood. Ride a charming trolley from the beach to downtown, where you can soak in the areas rich culture, tour one of several museums, or browse through the local shops. There's always something going on on the boardwalk. Listen to live music, taste fresh seafood, or celebrate one of several seasonal festivals. After hours, Hollywood is known for its vibrant nightlife.
The island community of Marathon in the Florida Keys is a tropical getaway for your whole family. It maintains a retro, nautical atmosphere with family-friendly festivals and attractions. Activities include dolphin swims, snorkeling, and boating. Seafood festivals are scheduled throughout the year, and plenty of local restaurants feature fresh catches. Fishing is ideal off the pristine Sombrero Beach. Visit Crane Point to hike to the preserved home of a 20th century settler family.
Situated on Grand Cayman’s west shore, Seven Mile Beach actually now measures only 5.5 miles. But its gorgeous clear waters and coral sands still lure visitors from around the world. Beach bars, such as the Royal Palms, provide drinks and a lively atmosphere, and restaurants abound. Swim with friendly stingrays at Stingray City, shop Seven Mile Shops, snorkel and scuba in the enticing waters around Cemetery Reef. Visit nearby Cayman capital George Town and the fascinating Cayman Turtle Farm.
The festive city of San Juan is the perfect place to experience true Puerto Rican culture. Get to know its roots by exploring the vibrant neighborhood of El Viejo San Juan (Old San Juan), which consists mostly of Spanish colonial buildings. Flesh out your self-guided history lesson with a visit to El Castillo San Felipe del Morro, a 16th century citadel that’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then reward yourself with a cooling dip at Luquillo or Carolina Beach, then a tasty tour of the Bacardi rum plant.
Puerto Rico offers the perfect balance of rum-soaked nightlife and tranquil retreat. The Spanish colonial buildings of San Juan set a perfect backdrop for a day of shopping and sightseeing. Hike the massive El Yunque rainforest to see waterfalls, stone towers, and colorful Puerto Rican wildlife. As far as beaches go, it doesn’t get better than the private sands of Isla de Vieques – particularly Mosquito Bay, where by moonlight the water glows blue-green thanks to magical microorganisms.
Whether you’re a high roller or a low-key lounger, Las Vegas has something to suit your vacation taste. Sample fare from top chefs and cornucopian buffets, try your luck at one of the world’s premier casinos, or take in a spectacular show. Just wandering the Strip is enough to get your heart pumping. Once you’ve had enough of the razzle-dazzle, wave hello to the toothy sea life at the Mandalay Bay Shark Reef, hike Red Rock Canyon, or visit the Neon Museum, where old signs take on new life.
Relax and sight-see in this southern Californian oasis. Located in the center of the Coachella Valley, Palm Desert is a vibrant city featuring top notch resorts, world class golfing, shopping, and entertainment that appeals to many types of consumers. Hike, bike or ride horseback through the desert trails. Or, soak in some culture with seasonal festivals, stylish art galleries, and a thriving music and nightlife scene.
Hollywood beckons to tourists who long for a brush with Tinseltown glamor. Tour movie studios, slip your hands into the famous prints at the TCL Chinese Theatre, or indulge in a celeb sighting at one of LA’s white-hot nightspots. Spot your favorite star while shopping at The Grove, or forget all about the famous eye candy as you take in the iconic artwork at The Getty Center. For a different type of star-gazing, peek through the telescopes at the Griffith Observatory.
Lying at Italy’s geographic and historic heart, Lazio (or Latium) was the seat of the Roman Empire, and as such is teeming with ancient attractions, especially in the Eternal City of Rome itself. To the east, Tivoli has Emperor Hadrian’s exquisite and massive Villa Adriana. Civitavecchia, today a major cruise and ferry port, has been Rome’s main harbor since the second century. Many pre-Roman sites dot Lazio too, like the Etruscan necropolis at Cerveteri, dating from the 9th century BC.