The day is here! Number 1 on Road Scholar participants' list of Top 10 Destinations for 2018 is … Alaska! Learn about each destination in the Top 10 below, and check back tomorrow when we announce the Road Scholar 2018 Destination of the Year!
Alaska is vast, accounting for one-sixth of the U.S. land mass. If you dropped Alaska onto the Lower 48, Duke Island in its southeast corner would be atop Jacksonville, Florida, and Attu, at the end of the Aleutian chain, would be on Eureka, California. Everything about Alaska is big, from the mountains and glaciers to the orcas, bald eagles and grizzly bears. A place we love is Kenai Fjords National Park.
Australia and New Zealand are called “the antipodes” by people who don’t live there. It means “the direct opposite of something,” but don’t tell that to a Kiwi or an Aussie. Australia was originally a penal colony for debtors and other British outcasts, but today it’s a tapestry of native Aborigines and waves of British, Chinese, German, Italian, Greek and other settlers living together in a land of fascinating topography, flora and fauna … and some of the world’s great wine. A place we love is the Sydney Opera House.
Take a bath in mineral-rich, geothermally heated waters before heading out to explore ice caves, geysers, glaciers and waterfalls. It’s a craggy and beautiful land, populated by hardy people rich in tradition. The first Icelanders were Norse noblemen, their families and slaves who came to the island beginning around 870. Learn about them and 1,100 years of Icelandic history in Reykjavik’s National Museum of Iceland. A place we love is the Golden Circle.
With its diversity of cultures and wildlife, it’s no wonder that Africa is in the Top 5 on the Road Scholar Bucket List. Explore contemporary African life, watch zebras, Thomson’s gazelles and wildebeest make their annual Great Migration, visit an elephant orphanage, and walk where early humanoids walked 2 million years ago in Olduvai Gorge. A place we love is Serengeti National Park.
Antarctica, at the bottom of the world, has an irresistible pull on the imagination, and one of those pulls is that getting there is truly a voyage. You start in Tierra del Fuego, in the southern Argentinian port of Ushuaia on the Beagle Channel. Your anticipation swells as you make the 400-mile crossing of Drake Passage, and then you’re there, exploring an icy world and spotting whales, penguins, albatross, and more. A place we love is the South Shetland Islands.
In his five-year circumnavigation of the globe on the HMS Beagle, Charles Darwin spent five weeks on the Galápagos Islands. His close observation there of finch species that varied from island to island gave him key insights that led to his theory of natural selection. A place we love is Darwin Bay.
Around every green bend and corner in Ireland you’ll find inspiration and poetry. The North Atlantic beats against the wild and craggy Western coast, while Dublin, across the country on the Irish Sea, is haunted by the ghost of James Joyce, whose novel Ulysses is set in a single day but is a vision as large as life itself. A place we love is the Cliffs of Moher.
The Grand Canyon is 277 miles long, 18 miles wide and more than a mile deep … no wonder it took 6 million years or more for the Colorado River to carve its way through the rising Colorado Plateau. You want to avoid the crowds and go farther than the tourists who stray just a few yards from the comfort of their bus for the usual South Rim overlook. With Road Scholar, you will. A place we love is Bright Angel Trail.
President Kennedy once described Washington as a city of “Northern charm and Southern efficiency,” but that was more than 60 years ago. Today Washington is a landmark- and monument-studded open-air museum of America. And — who knows? — maybe that man in the gabardine suit is a spy! A place we love is the Cryptologic Museum at the NSA.
From the neon hubbub of nighttime Tokyo to the formality and quiet of the Kabuki stage, Japan is a study in contrasts. Beneath the shiny and modern surface of Japan is a culture in which craftsmanship and beauty are revered, whether it’s in the making of a traditional wooden house, a fine sake, or in the serving of tea. A place we love is the Daitoku-ji Temple, Kyoto.
Peter Spiers, Senior Vice President of Strategic Outreach, is the author of “Master Class: Living Longer, Stronger, and Happier.”
Eager to see some of these places but they fill fast. A problem I’ve encountered trying to book trips here is that I spend a lot of time checking, comparing, looking into airfares and it is only when I go to book a tripand pay the deposit that the site alerts me trip is filled. I wish they would update sooner. Many do state “waitlist” which saves me wasting time even considering the trip. It applys to the water color trips and Alaska/kenai trips specifically.
We plan on visiting two of these destinations in 2018. We are traveling to Iceland in 2018 with RS on a trip that includes round trip air fare. I called their travel department to see if we could make special return arrangements, namely flying from Iceland to Ireland for a week of travel on our own and then back to the United States. Lo and behold, it was very easy to arrange and cost us very little extra! Another great experience arranging travel through RS.
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