Scotland

In the town of Golspie, a coastal community in Scotland’s extreme north, there is no castle. Instead the outline of Ben Bhraggie looms over the rooftops. This mountain is more than it seems: A history lesson disguised as a pleasantly strenuous uphill hike.

Scotland

Our itinerary was simple: Climb Goat Fell, the highest peak on the island, and visit Machrie Moor for the ancient stone circles. Too bad a blizzard two days prior had dumped three feet of snow on both places. We hadn't come prepared in the least.

England

Holy Island is a tidal island, accessible by road when the tide is out, but completely cut off from the mainland when the tide is in. Day trippers have about eight hours to get there and back without getting stranded, a window that shifts each day...

Kyrgyzstan

Ala Archa is my first national park in Central Asia that looks maintained. No one's sitting in a visitor center handing out maps, but Ala Archa has everything you really need: Regular trail markings, the occasional sign post with kilometers to the next landmark, and a little cafeteria at the base of the park that sells light snacks on the cheap.

USA

It was too early— in the season and in the morning— to go to the beach. But I was in Pensacola on a blindingly sunny day with six hours to kill, so I headed over the bridge to Santa Rosa Island...

USA

As a native New Yorker, I'm sometimes unsure of how famous Ellis Island is. All New Yorkers know it. Do all Americans know it? What about the Irish, who lost a remarkable percentage of their population to American immigration in the 19th and 20th centuries? Or the Italians, who followed close behind?

Malta

It isn't fair to compare Malta to anywhere else in Europe. It's a tiny place where every big city feels like a small town, connected by a surprisingly finite number of roads. The beaches are rocky...

USA

Old news: Detroit is a wreck. The downtown area looks like any American city— A hundred years of variously styled skyscrapers that seem to jostle each other for space in the skyline...

Kazakhstan

Paper cupids and foam hearts; Red roses; White doves; Pink martinis handed out by women in lace; An unseen sound system serving up syrupy smooth jazz. I searched for clues I was still in Kazakhstan, my little-known host country whose holiday calendar melds Persian, Russian and historically Kazakh traditions in pursuit of its own post-Soviet identity...

Italy

Ragusa Ibla: UNESCO World Heritage site and the small town over the hill from my husband's grandmother's apartment. Composing the "old town" of Ragusa, which has long since expanded into a mid-sized modern city, Ibla is a tourist spot in many ways...

Italy

Naples rewards those who give her their full and complete attention, and she spurns those who don't. It's an immersive experience. In Rome and Florence and Venice you can observe the city from the outside, interacting with people, sights and restaurants that are there to serve tourists. In Naples there's no dividing line.