Vineyards dot France’s Alsace region.
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Savoring France This 10-day tour begins in romantic Paris, where you might enjoy a sunset walk on the Pont des Arts, macarons at the classic pâtisserie Ladurée, and intoxicating art at the Musée d’Orsay (in a renovated train station). About two hours east is one of the world’s most historic wine destinations, Champagne, its hills blanketed with vineyards that yield more than 300 million bottles each year. On your way to Alsace, soak in the views of the imposing Vosges Mountains.
Timeless Peru Launch your 10-day journey in cosmopolitan Lima, where pre-Columbian art and 16th-century catacombs meet the Costa Verde boardwalk and 21st-century molecular gastronomy. Then head to the lush valley surrounding Cuzco, home to the Inca and refuge for such endangered wildlife as condors. Travel by train to Machu Picchu, more than 7,000 feet above sea level, to explore the vast ruins of what was once a self-sufficient city, and to consider early astronomy at the sacred Intihuatana stone, designed to predict the dates of the vernal and autumnal equinoxes.
American Gems It could be said that Philadelphia is where the story of the United States began. The Liberty Bell hangs here as a symbol of freedom, and the Constitution was drafted in its Independence Hall. On this eight-day tour, start in the Pennsylvania city, then mosey south to the Victorian coastal resort of Cape May, N.J. A highlight: Pennsylvania’s Brandywine River Museum holds the world’s largest collection of paintings by the Wyeth family, including grandfather N.C., son Andrew, and grandson Jamie. Return to a more urban scene in Baltimore, Md., and Washington, D.C.
Down Under On this 17-day tour of both Australia and New Zealand, explore the ecologically unique Daintree rainforest and listen to Aboriginal myths. Then head to the Great Barrier Reef to snorkel with dolphins and sea turtles. Trade your wet suit for hiking boots at Uluru/Ayers Rock, with its 178 species of birds. Chill out in the Australian capital of winemaking, the Barossa Valley, and swing through Sydney for a private tour of the opera house and its organ with more than 10,000 pipes. Later, New Zealand’s North Island reveals Maori life among Rotorua’s Te Arawa people.
Best of Hawaii Once the sugar-growing hub of the Big Island, Hilo is now home to the world-class Imiloa Astronomy Center and Wailuku River State Park, with dramatic waterfalls not far from a burgeoning downtown. The town is your first stop on a 14-day Princess cruise to three more Hawaiian jewels. In the state capital, Oahu’s Honolulu, see the Chinatown Arts District, Diamond Head volcanic crater, and Pearl Harbor. On Maui, the city of Lahaina is beloved for its aquarium, whale-watching, and art scene. The lush island of Kauai feels like Maui’s laid-back cousin. From the port at Nawiliwili, hit the Hule‘ia National Wildlife Refuge, a preserve for endangered birds.
Photography by Cephas Picture Library/Alamy (French vineyards); Jeff Kubina/Wikipedia (Lincoln); Donkeet/Wikipedia (Peruvian girl); Mark Andrews/Wikipedia (Uluru); Brian
Snelson/Wikipedia (Diamond Head crater)
This article was first published in July 2012. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.
For more information, visit any AAA branch or visit AAA.com/travel.