If you want to own your next night out with friends or family, travel stories can make you the most interesting person at any table, especially when you talk about places few others have visited. Read about 10 up-and-coming places to visit, and then run that dinner conversation like a boss.
Mongolia is one of Earth’s more sparsely populated countries, and its landscapes reflect that. Experience the sweeping Gobi Desert atop a camel, hike amid the eye-catching limestone formations of Tsagaan Suvarga, then visit Terkhiin Tsagaan Nuur National Park and gaze across the lake created by the eruption of the Khorgo volcano.
2. Upper Antelope Canyon
Upper Antelope Canyon, east of Page, Ariz., is one of the Southwest’s great slot canyons – narrow openings beset by towering rock formations. Photographers love Upper Antelope for the sandstone’s orange and red hues and the beams of light that stream in through slim crevices. The canyon is part of Navajo Nation. Reservations are necessary.
3. St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Kitts and Nevis form a two-island nation in the eastern Caribbean Sea. On St. Kitts, you can work on your tan at South Friars Beach, check out sights from the St. Kitts Scenic Railway and visit Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And don’t miss the Botanical Gardens of Nevis or Pinney’s Beach.
Helsinki is a great city, but the rest of Finland is pretty cool, too. For unobstructed views of the northern lights, stay in a glass igloo at Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort in Saariselka. Or head to Kemi to stay in a seasonal ice castle. Try the Finnish sausage grillimakkara for a delicious way to live like the locals.
Travelers of all sorts will find something to do in Calabria, the toe of Italy’s boot. Kite surfers and scuba divers will find nearly 500 miles of coastline. Outdoorsy types will find hiking aplenty in Pollino National Park, while history buffs can visit the National Archaeological Museum of Reggio Calabria for its famed bronze sculptures of Greek warriors.
6. Basque Country
Basque Country in northern Spain is an exciting land of contrasts, whether you visit the revitalized city of Bilbao and its Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum or climb to the top of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe for sweeping coastal views. It’s also home to many vineyards that make the region’s fizzy vino, txakolina.
Canberra, Australia’s capital, is giving Sydney and Melbourne competition for tourists. Hot air balloons are popular ways to see the area’s expansive landscape, and the National Museum of Australia and the country’s Parliament House are interesting attractions. Visitors to the annual truffle festival can search for the rare, scrumptious delicacies.
Bolivia holds its own when it comes to marquee attractions. Salar de Uyuni is the largest salt flat on Earth. “Star Wars” fans will know it as the planet Crait from “The Last Jedi.” After it rains, it’s like walking on glass. Thrill-seekers might like Yungas Road, a narrow road that winds from La Paz to the Amazon rainforest that’s considered one of the world’s most dangerous.
Time travel is easy in Japan. Start with a night or two in ultra-modern Tokyo. Its bright lights are particularly dazzling from the observatory at Tokyo Tower, 819 feet above the city. Journey back to early times by checking out ancient temples, like Kiyomizu-dera in Kyoto. Visit during cherry blossom or fall foliage season for an unforgettable experience.
Believe it or not, Minneapolis is catching on with folks for more than the nearby Mall of America, where theme-park attractions include roller coasters. In the city, the Minneapolis Institute of Art’s collection spans 5,000 years, Guthrie Theater’s Endless Bridge offers spectacular views of the Mississippi River, and imprints of musical greats Prince (a Minneapolis native) and Bob Dylan (a frequent visitor) are everywhere.