Best 16 Museums in the World

Virgin vacations put out this list a while ago of the best 16 museums in the world.

I believe this list is a little American-centric, but I decided to put it to the test and see what real travelers thought about each one anyway.

1. Musee du Louvre, Paris, France

Dan of Dan-and-dee with an elaborate tomb in the Louvre

Dan of Dan-and-dee with an elaborate tomb in the Louvre

To be perfectly honest, we both enjoyed the outside of the Museum (ie the architecture of the buildings), more than the inside, the pyramids alone were spectacular and a lot less people to move between for a photo, or even just a glimpse!Dan-and-dee

2. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, USA

Inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Jimandlaura

Inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art with Jimandlaura

Took the subway uptown to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Wow, what a place. We loved it and we only scratched the surface. Particularly liked the modern art (Hirst, Pollock) and the ancient Japanese silk prints. You could spend a week there and still not see everything. Great cafe too!Jimandlaura

3. Vatican Museums, Vatican City, Rome, Italy

The ceiling in the Vatican Museums

The ceiling in the Vatican Museums

The museum was extended in 2000 for the millennial year celebration of Christ’s birth, and the renovations included a large spiral ramp leading to the entrance to the museums. We had fun by challenging the group to run up the spiral ramp while they took the escalator.

We saw a number of interesting sculptures while waiting in a courtyard to enter the first of the museums. One was of a pine cone from 1 AD or 2 AD, that was a symbol of fertility and was first made as a Roman fountain. In the courtyard, we also learned about the story and significance of the Sistine Chapel. The chapel is used as the place where the cardinals choose the next Pope. It was named after Pope Sixtus IV.

As we walked through various parts of the museums, I was surprised to see some art from Ancient Egypt and Greece, even including two marble sculptures of Diana the fertility goddess and Diana as the goddess of the hunt. Worship of Diana was notorious in the New Testament. It seemed to me as though the presence of the artwork indicated the idea that the church acknowledged and saw itself as the fulfillment of many earlier traditions and religious practices. My interpretation could, however, be incorrect.

I was awestruck by the tapestries depicting various events in Christ’s life. The tapestries were housed in a darkened room and one of them gave the impression that Christ’s eyes were following you as you walked past. Another interesting room was a room of ancient maps.Woodsfamily

4. Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy

Ruthperelstein on the terrace of the Uffizi Gallery

Ruthperelstein on the terrace of the Uffizi Gallery

Tuesday we visit the Uffizi Gallery. This is another place where you have to have a reservation. It does make it less stressful and you do beat the lines, which are long and full of grumpy tourists.

The Uffizi Gallery has the greatest collection of Italian paintings anywhere, including Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. It is beautiful. The time periods this museum are not my personal favorites but again the sculpture knocks us out.

Building of the palace was begun by Giorgio Vasari in 1560 for Cosimo I de’ Medici as the offices for the Florentine magistrates — hence the name “uffizi” (“offices”). There is also a corridor that extends for the end of the building along the Arno river and through the Ponte Vecchio to the Pitti Palace that is no longer used by was the way the elite could travel without stepping a foot into the dangerous streets.Ruthperelstein

5. Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain

Juliana of Paul-jules at the Prado Museum in Madrid

Juliana of Paul-jules at the Prado Museum in Madrid

We got to our hotel, and headed out to the Prado museum immediately. It is one of the best museums we have seen on the trip. It has a large number of El Greco paintings. He has become one of our favourite artists. It also has many by Raphael, Reubens, and Durer.Paul-jules

6. The State Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia

Fishtails04 found the State Hermitage overwhelming

Fishtails04 found the State Hermitage overwhelming

The State Hermitage, located in the former Winter Palace of the tsars, in St. Petersburg, houses one of the finest art collections in the world, with more than three million pieces – it seems that Catherine the Great liked big numbers in more than just her lovers. And that’s the problem really: it’s estimated that to walk through each of the galleries would total about twenty-five kilometres – i.e. it’s just too big to cover in an afternoon. It’s also too excessive in style for me to really enjoy: all busily decorated floors, marble pillars, highly decorated ceilings, heavy furniture, dark portraits of gloomy monarchs, imposing sculptures, huge crustal chandeliers, and gold and gilt opulence. As the guidebooks says, “One must visit the Hermitage on a visit to St Petersburg…”, and it was worth it to gain an appreciation of its scale, but I felt something of a failure when, after an hour and a half, I’d had enough and, with that sense of panic I experience in large department stores when I can’t see a way out, started frantically searching for an exit.Fishtails04

7. J. Paul Getty Center, Los Angeles, USA

Inside the J. Paul Getty Center with Jeznkez

Inside the J. Paul Getty Center with Jeznkez

At length the road wound up through the hills and we arrived at the J. Paul Getty Centre, which is a gigantic art museum, housed in a purpose built series of monoliths amid the verdant grounds. The museum is perched on a hill in the Santa Monica Mountains, looking over L.A. and out to sea.

We had nowhere near enough time to do justice to the whole four buildings, each of which contains different styles of Western art from the Middle Ages to the present, but had a good look around and enjoyed the peaceful and exquisitely conceived gardens, interwoven with sculptures and water features. The whole complex is constructed from Travertine (1.2 million square feet of it) which is a fossilized, textured stone that reflects the bright Californian sunlight, imparting the whole place with a luminous, ethereal glow. Overall an incredibly successful public space and a great example of modern architectural design and realization. And all free of charge!Jeznkez

8. Musee d’Orsay, Paris, France

Londonpenguin at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris

Londonpenguin at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris

Our long walk ended up at the Musee d’Orsay. I headed straight for the Impressionists upstairs, and leisurely made my way back down. Happened upon the Salle des Fetes, which is a glorious burst of gold, crystal and mirrors. I also found the Art Nouveau rooms and was really enjoying them when the announcement came over the loudspeaker that the museum would be closing in 15 minutes, which was half an hour earlier than we had been told. Slightly disappointing, but it was definitely worth going back to.Londonpenguin

9. National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC, USA

The Enemans standing in front of a fountain at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC

The Enemans standing in front of a fountain at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC

The style of the buildings downtown is such a far cry from anything else you’ll see. There were times when I thought even the Greek Gods would be impressed. I was surprised to see how brand new the art gallery looked, despite having been open for sixty years. The marble floors were pristine and the walls were un-scuffed as if it had been built last week. I was particularly anxious about the Ansel Adams beach photography gallery on display for a limited time.Jeneman

10. Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France

Mamakarpus at the Centre Pompidou in Paris

Mamakarpus at the Centre Pompidou in Paris

I really wanted to see the Pompidou Centre, so we went looking for that. It took us forever to find it, it was so annoying. We kept looking at the map backwards, so we were wandering around forever. Oh well. We eventually found it and it was pretty cool. It’s a modern art museum. I honestly didn’t care about going in to see the art, but I wanted to see the building and the fountains right beside it. So I was happy.Mamakarpus

11. Tate Modern, London, England

Laohallo's friend at the Tate Modern in London

Laohallo's friend at the Tate Modern in London

After borough markets we headed over to tate modern which is a modern art museum. Im blaming Tammy for picking this tourist attraction. Lets just say the art is very strange and modern. It was a good laugh though.Laohallo

12. Museum of Modern Art, New York City, USA

Julesjb found this statue in MoMA's sculpture garden

Julesjb found this statue in MoMA's sculpture garden

After that I then went across to Manhattan to see the MOMA (Museum Of Modern Art) which was amazing. All my favourites were there including Cezanne, Magritte, Picasso and Dali. I also saw a few Jackson Pollack’s which I thought were very impressive in terms of scale and use of paint.Julesjb

13. British Museum, London, England

Harmony at the British Museum in London

Harmony at the British Museum in London

It was spectacular and we could not believe the size and the amount of artifacts, especially since it was free to get in! We saw the Rosetta Stone, a massive Easter Island head, many beautiful Greco Roman sculptures, and much much more.Mikeandharmony

14. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City, USA

Ineednewears found solace in this room at the Guggenheim museum

Ineednewears found this to be one quiet place in the Guggenheim museum

Who would have thought that on a windy, rainy, cold Friday evening dozens of people were willing to queue underneath the semi-permeable dripping roof of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in their damp clothes and soaked shoes just to get in for close to free (for some, pay-what-you-can comes frighteningly close to nothing). I pictured a Friday night at the “Gugg” along the lines of a Friday night at the library or much like a sheep pasture with but a few bodies scattered around in the far corners, but what I got involved much more arm-against-arm rubbing and additional queuing as the spiral-shaped interior, seven-levels high, filled up.

I complained not about the crowds but about the barriers along the spiraling platform being too low, and constantly feared toppling over to free fall and be torn open by one or more of the suspended cars on my way down. Ineednewears

15. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, USA

Toddfamily had a "Rocky moment" at the Philadelphia Art Museum

Toddfamily had a "Rocky moment" at the Philadelphia Art Museum

The next day we spent the morning on a bus tour of the city and ended up at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We really enjoyed this museum too and were once again lucky to join a tour with a very knowledgeable guide. We met Mark at the front of the museum afterwards and had a little Rocky moment on the front steps – those of you who know the first Rocky film will know this scene!Toddfamily

16. Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, USA

Traveled loved the Chicago Art Institute

Traveled loved the Chicago Art Institute

We took the Metro to Union, then walked down Adams to the Art Institute. We saw more exhibits in one day than I recall seeing on any of my previous visits. We started off in the European area, then lunched at the cafe, which was surprisingly satisfying, and finally we took a couple more hours to walk through the American and photography exhibits. One my favorite works of the day was one that probably does not receive the attention it deserves, located in the corner of the same room as “American Gothic” by Hopper, called “Nightlife” by Motley. But of course, I also loved almost everything I saw there.Traveled

Featured blogs

4 Quiet Places in New York

Sometimes the sights and sounds of New York City can overwhelm a person. Sometimes you just need a place to get away. Here are some stories from TravelPod bloggers finding their own peaceful places in the city that never sleeps.

1. New York Botanical Garden

Julietran found a little piece of heaven in a rose bush

Julietran found a little piece of heaven in a rose bush

Garden Moment I am in the Cherry Tree Garden, the Jazz concert is in the background and the scents of the Rose Garden to my left are drifting my way. I’m really starting to feel like I have a life here.Julietran

2. The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Davidsmi's travel partner, Veronica loved the Met

Davidsmi's travel partner, Veronica loved the Met

We spent 2 hours in the Egyptian exhibit before stopping for a coffee break. On the way back to the Egyptian exhibit we wandered through other areas of the museum. If David and I were lucky to live in NYC for a year we would get a membership to this museum. There is so much to see and enjoy – it would take several very long visits before even just walked through every room in the building. In all we spent 4 hours in the Egyptian exhibit, visiting all the rooms and hearing a good selection of the audio tour. The best piece that I remember is a fragment of a woman’s face made of bright yellow (mustard colour) stone. David took a picture of it.Davidsmi

3. The Cloisters

Desertscot really enjoyed her quiet time in The Cloisters

Desertscot really enjoyed her quiet time in The Cloisters

So the Cloisters were just the coolest place ever! A little touch of heaven in the upper tip of Manhattan. I really adored the building itself and the way that they laid it out, it was as though you could walk through time and see the very best of medieval architecture connected for you to see all just right in front of you. I took a lot of pictures and really just loved being there.Desertscot

4. Roosevelt Island Aerial Tram

Elrigster enjoying the view of Manhattan from Roosevelt Island

Elrigster enjoying the view of Manhattan from Roosevelt Island

When we got the cable car from Manhattan over to island, viewing the sunset as we streamed though the Skyscapers and over the Hudson I knew that we were in for something special and if the incredible views from his flat were not enough well we went up to the roof terrace and well it was for me, the top of world. The views are hard to put into words and even though I am well pleased with the photos that I took, they still do not give you what it is like to be there and see the great city of light gleaming at you fon the little island to the side… a very lucky man and I feel even luckier to have sat there drinking american beer, and eating a Spanish supper with a group of about 20 Spaniards who could not have done enough to make you feel more welcome. Elrigster

TravelPod Buzz

100 things to do before you die, TravelPod style (Part 5)

If you’ve got a life-goal, chances are, someone on TravelPod has already done it! Here’s part five of things to do before you die, as compiled by TravelPod members.

41. Go to the top of the Empire State Building in New York City

Twinkfran makes it to the Empire State Building

Twinkfran makes it to the Empire State Building

Day two I go to the top of the Empire State Building to see the amazing views over the city and then catch the circle line boat ride to see the Statue of Liberty. – Twinkfran

42. Feel the mist from Niagara Falls

Jtopping visits Niagara Falls on his Great American Road Trip

Jtopping visits Niagara Falls on his Great American Road Trip

The aura of the falls was present the moment we crossed the bridge into Canada. You could see the mist from the falls even when you could not see the falls themselves… We headed out to the falls around 10 pm, and got to see fireworks over the water and the light show that happens nightly at Niagara via the Canadian side. It was a spectacular sight to see, the water changing colors and the mist from the water all around you. I could have sworn that it was raining at one point, even though there wasn’t a cloud in the sky… The next morning, we did the journey beneath the falls where you can get within feet of the bottom of the waterfall. You could stand there for about a minute and be completely soaked, poncho or no poncho. – Jtopping

43. See rock band REM in concert, finally!

Giulianat got great shots of REM in Milan

Giulianat got great shots of REM in Milan

We had a great evening and after waiting three hours in the queue out the front we were rewarded with access to the mosh pit just 5 metres from the stage! I can tell you the lead singer Michael Stipe is a fantastic performer and it was great dancing around and singing with Alessia and the rest of the crowd to songs I knew and also the newer ones that I’m not so familiar with. – Giulianat

44. Enjoy writing more

Hsb deeply enjoyed writing her blog in Argentina

Hsb deeply enjoyed writing her blog in Argentina

I’m only here for a few days, and I’m obsessed writing this blog…! Well, it’s still time well-spent, as I enjoy writing, and I have definitely enjoyed reminiscing about Bolivia. It’s given me an opportunity to slowly re-live it, and has forced me to remember views and images that would have otherwise been relegated to the back of my brain forever. – Hsb

45. Start a travel club

Nancy.chappell attended a travel club meeting in Oxford, England

Nancy.chappell attended a travel club meeting in Oxford, England

Today we had a lazy morning and then they drove me to High Wickam at noon for my luncheon of Women Welcome Women Worldwide, the travel club I belonged to off and on for the last 20 years. There were about 122 of us there to celebrate the 25th anniversary – mostly from the UK, also France, Australia, New Zealand, Japan and 4 of us from the states. – Nancy.chappell

46. Visit a Vineyard

Jimandnat sample wine in Argentina

Jimandnat sample wine in Argentina

We caught the bus about 45 minutes out of Mendoza to one of the main wine-growing regions to visit some “bodegas” (vineyards). So we decided to all hire bikes, and we chose to hire a tandem which added much hilarity to the whole experience. The afternoon was gorgeous, warm, blue skies and sunny and we were cycling along tree lined avenues in the countryside and then popping into vineyards in between so it was fabulous fun. We visited a few bodegas, La Rural which is the biggest wine producer of the area where we got to have a look at some of the old equipment, like old grape-presses and lots of other little quaint bits. And then we got a free tasting of a Malbec, which is the red wine which the region is famous for. – Jimandnat

47. Explore Australia in an RV

Serenitynow playing in a park in Perth, Australia

Serenitynow playing in a park in Perth, Australia

The magnificent Kings Park is described as the jewel in the city’s crown, and one of the largest inner city parks in the world. We spent the afternoon hear and wish we could have spent longer. The park overlooks the city and provides excellent views. It is meticulously maintained with cultivated gardens and natural bushland along with many grassy lawns, all featuring grass like that of a golf course. – Serenitynow

48. Go adventuring in New Zealand

Apoc100 boating around New Zealand

Apoc100 boating around New Zealand

On the way we were very lucky to see some wild dolphins swimming next to the boat and they got quite close the boat so naturally I had to take 100 photos in the span of a minute. We also saw several waterfalls such as the Stirling Falls which created a beautiful rainbow in the light, and many “temporary waterfalls” that appear only when snow melts. These temporary waterfalls look like veins on the side of mountains that fall slowly towards the lake, usually forming bodies of ice on the way. Apoc100

49. Trek The Annapurna Circuit in Nepal

Jimmyandkristen hike the Annapurna Circuit

Jimmyandkristen hike the Annapurna Circuit

In a couple years, the circuit as we know it will be gone. The whole point is that it is a working road…but one without motorized vehicles. The only way to get to these places is to walk. The road will, as some bloggers have written, “ruin” the circuit. And I suppose for Trekkers it will. The road will make it so that you can pretty much drive almost all the way to the Throng La (Throung Pass), and will turn that achievement into a 3-5 day trek, not a 15-20. – Jimmyandkristen

50. Eat tapas in Spain

Jeffandash eat tapas in Barcelona

Jeffandash eat tapas in Barcelona

We just got back from a restaurant with some tasty tapas for dinner. Tapas are little appetizers and Jeff tried all kinds of new food…salmon eggs for example! Jeffandash

TravelPod Buzz

Top 10 travel videos on TravelPod

There are lots of interesting travel videos on TravelPod.com. Here are the ones getting the most clicks this month:

1. Megan’s Bay, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands

Smachim took a short video in Megan's Bay

Smachim took a short video in Megan's Bay

Although the island has extraordinary geographical features (Magen’s Bay, views of the BVI, etc), we didn’t like the hectic traffic, the pushy vendors and the crowded beaches.Smachim

2. Mumbai, India

Angiedarren gets a head massage on Chowpatty Beach

Angiedarren gets a head massage on Chowpatty Beach

After saying no multiple times, Darren relented when the price tumbled and got a head massage for 25p. The masseur gave him a good pummeling. At the end, just when he thought it was all over, his head was tipped to one side and his neck yanked sharply. Darren shouted ow, Angie shouted oh, and his neck made a loud crunch. The masseur was unperturbed and proceeded to do the same on the other side. Darren felt a new man afterwards.- Angiedarren

3. New York, United States

Orizarska raised money for girls' schools in Asia with this slide show

Orizarska raised money for girls' schools in Asia with this slide show

For one night only in New York , we have collected enough money to send 34 girls to school for a year. A year is enough to learn to read and to do simple math. Imagine a life with and life without those skills. – Orizarska

4. Okayama, Japan

Kateinjapan's outrageous Naked Man Festival video

Kateinjapan's outrageous Naked Man Festival video

Eyo is a 14-day New Year ritual during which monks of the Shingon sect pray for a year of bountiful harvest and good fortune. On the 14th day, amulets (an object that protects a person from trouble) said to guarantee a good year were presented to the elders representing the people. But an increasing amount of believers began to gather for these amulets. People fought until their clothes tore off!! Thus the paper amulets were replaced by wooden sticks which were tossed into the crowd. Good fortune is bestowed to those who catch these sticks. By the end of the 19th century, the event had evolved into the current style, being held naked (not completely but rather in a ‘thong’ that looks similar to that worn by sumo wrestlers). Recently, the festival has been attracting over 10,000 naked men who thrust themselves into the crowd upon the release of these wooden charms at midnight. Despite the chilling temperature, the intense fight produces steam that casts a mysterious spell on this winter event.Kateinjapan

5. Phuket, Thailand

Surfy_sarah riding a mechanical bull

Surfy_sarah riding a mechanical bull

The night life is very good! A huge number of bars & clubs to choose from. I met a couple of dutch girls, an Aussie called Sam & a couple of Americans & have been hanging out with them. Mainly drinking at Happy Night Bar where ladyboys dance on a podium all night! All good clean fun!!!Surfy_sarah

6. Koh Samui, Thailand

Lisaandpaul watched an unbelievable snake fight in Thailand

Lisaandpaul watched an unbelievable snake fight in Thailand

Oh my goodness the snake guys are crazy, they pissed the snakes off so much and then got out of the way when they striked. quite scary.Lisaandpaul

7. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Globedecker falls off a surfboard at an indoor waterpark

Globedecker falls off a surfboard at an indoor waterpark

Katie redeemed her birthday gift from me today, an afternoon at Wild Wadi Water Park! (wadi is the Arabic word for creek or stream) See the videos to laugh at our exploits with the surf rides.Globedecker

8. Doha, Qatar

Andreadd caught the call to prayer in Doha

Andreadd caught the call to prayer in Doha

This video is around the corner from where I’m staying. i was walking home from the grocery store at prayer time and I was the only one on the street. All of a sudden the muezzin’s call to prayer sounded from all the mosques in the area.andreadd

9. Oaxaca, Mexico

Johnb22 witnessed a big dance party in Oaxaca

Johnb22 witnessed a big dance party in Oaxaca

Speaking of the Oaxcans – what a friendly bunch! I’ve been met with nothing but smiles and politeness. It’s such a simple place – the town’s people seem perfectly content going about the day’s business, which, from what I’ve seen, consists mostly of two things. 1} chillin around the Zocolo {center plaza}, chatting and generally kickin back, or 2} retailing food, drink and-or clothes. – Johnb22

10. Cairo, Egypt

Aszliross took a video of the traffic in Cairo, complete with mood music

Aszliross took a video of the traffic in Cairo, complete with mood music

We ran out of time before we were burnt out, and we headed back to the van to struggle through traffic back to our hotel. There are a couple very appropriate videos that give you a slight idea of the traffic ‘rules’ in Cairo. – Aszliross

TravelPod Buzz

America’s 5 Favourite Cities

Travel and Leisure magazine’s annual survey on America’s favourite cities will be starting on June 1. I had fun voting in the tournament style competition last year, don’t forget to vote for your favourites this year.

To give you some motivation, here’s a snapshot of all the cities that won in 2008.

Best People

Austin

Cube242 met up with old friends in Austin

Cube242 met up with old friends in Austin

I loved hearing our old songs that we made together in college, some of which I no longer had on tape. – Cube242

Best Type of Trip

Honolulu

Escott10 living it up in Honolulu

Escott10 living it up in Honolulu

Unbelievable views of the sand and sea, with surfers around every corner. – Escott10

Best Nightlife

Las Vegas

Ckuryak hitting the clubs in Las Vegas

Ckuryak hitting the clubs in Las Vegas

So we took a 4 night trip to Vegas. Split one room at the Circus Circus. Smelled like old carpet. – Ckuryak

Best Culture

New York

Ricflack enjoyed the theatre in New York City

Ricflack enjoyed the theatre in New York City

After shopping we headed back to the hotel to get changed to go to see Mary Poppins. We decided that we would grab some quick dinner at Chipotle across from the hotel, then went by the Gershwin Theater and purchased tickets to go see Wicked on Wednesday. – Ricflack

Best Shopping

New York

Ahartry in New York City for a 16th birthday party

Ahartry in New York City for a 16th birthday party


Silly hats, shopping, and an interview with CNN … just want every girl wants for her 16th birthday. – Ahartry

Best Food/Dining

New Orleans

Traceourtracks thoroughly enjoying beignets in New Orleans

Traceourtracks thoroughly enjoying beignets in New Orleans

We walked through the French Quarter and arrived at the famous ‘Cafe Du Monde’ for coffee & beginets (hot doughnuts covered in icing sugar!) – Traceourtracks

Best Quality of Life and Visitor Experience

Portland

A beautiful park just outside Portland

A beautiful park just outside Portland

As for the city of Portland, it has much to offer for the person who is into outdoor activities. – Horvath211

Best Holiday Travel

Honolulu

Cali enjoying the sand and surf in Honolulu

Cali enjoying the sand and surf in Honolulu

Leaving Hawaii… and the States again was hard to do – Cali

Hot places

10 best places in the U.S.A.

Polydemic is a superb addition to the TravelPod community. He knows all there is to know about the U.S.A. Here are his top picks for an American vacation.

1. Denali Park, Alaska

Denali Park in Alaska with Kitchenshrink

Denali Park in Alaska with Kitchenshrink

I can only say that the millions of acres of park yielded landscape and wildlife that we will never forget. – Kitchenshrink

2. The Grand Canyon, Arizona

Crapper66 at the Grand Canyon

Crapper66 at the Grand Canyon

It was pretty cool, but there’s some limit of awe to a big hole we stood there for about ten minutes then we started getting cold and headed back to the car. – Crapper66

3. The Adirondacks, New York

Keralajs at Mount Marcy in the Adirondacks

Keralajs at Mount Marcy in the Adirondacks

After leaving Lake George, we drove along our favorite road in the Adirondacks, Route 28N, and stopped in Newcomb to view the high peaks. – Keralajs

4. Mammoth Caves, Kentucky

Hillaryjoseph in Mammoth Caves

Hillaryjoseph in Mammoth Caves

Once under ground, however, I was completely entertained by the educational, yet interesting tour guide, and awed by the amazing rock formations. – Hillaryjoseph

5. Yellowstone Park, Wyoming

Lauravanwaas' friend with a geyser in Yellowstone

Lauravanwaas' friend with a geyser in Yellowstone

There is just a sprinkling of snow on the highest mountaintops and the entire area is bathed in the most blissful autumn sunshine. – Lauravanwaas

6. Yosemite Park, California

Traceywilson in Yosemite National Park

Traceywilson in Yosemite National Park

On my way into the park I saw a kingfisher and plenty of birds of prey. The smell of the trees was just fantastic. – Traceywilson

7. The Everglades, Florida

Couchonbp in the Everglades

An alligator in the Everglades

We saw a couple alligators, lizards, storks, and giant mutant teenage grasshoppers that were everywhere! We also saw turtles and woodpeckers. – Couchonbp

8. Mt Rainier, Washington

Jwmoles on top of Mt. Rainier

Jwmoles on top of Mt. Rainier

Nevertheless, I made it! The summit crater is huge. At the top, we walked across the crater (it takes about twenty minutes) to the true summit at Columbia Crest. – Jwmoles

9. Crater Lake, Oregon

Foreman on the edge of Crater Lake

Foreman on the edge of Crater Lake

It was amazing. In fact we look at photos, and I think they almost looked super-imposed; the background looks false. Let me assure you, it is VERY real. Quite surreal. – Foreman

10. Meteor Crater, Arizona

Johnrandall at Meteor Crater

Johnrandall at Meteor Crater

This is a neat place and a nice little side trip, it’s the best $15 I’ve spent to see a big hole in the ground. ; ) – Johnrandall

Hot places

Top 10 Free U.S. Attractions

Here’s TripAdvisor’s list of the best free attractions in the U.S. released last spring, but it’s still relevant. Let’s see what TravelPod bloggers thought about it:

1. Bellagio Fountains, Las Vegas, Nevada

Jaskate at the Bellagio fountains

Jaskate at the Bellagio fountains

We also checked out the Bellagio fountains, which are truly spectacular. – Jaskate

2. Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia

Jackies-world at Arlington National Cemetery

Jackies-world at Arlington National Cemetery

3. Waimea Canyon, Waimea, Hawaii

Oceanevelyn in Waimea Canyon

Oceanevelyn in Waimea Canyon

There are ocean views where the blue water goes on forever. I couldn’t tell where the ocean ended and the sky began. – Oceanevelyn

4. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California

Bpippert and the Golden Gate Bridge

Bpippert and the Golden Gate Bridge

Next we headed out to get an amazing view of the Golden Gate from the view of an old gun battery used up into WW2. – Bpippert

5. Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park, Utah

Npacadia at Angel's Landing

Npacadia at Angel's Landing

Angel’s Landing is one of the iconic trails in Zion that feature numerous steep switchbacks, a very narrow and steep ridge line, and a magnificent perch overlooking the Zion canyon below. – Npacadia

6. U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii

Trippinwithleis at the USS Arizona memorial in Oahu

Trippinwithleis at the USS Arizona memorial in Oahu

What an incredible sight. I can’t believe it is still leaking oil 60-some years later. – Trippinwithleis

7. Pacific Coast Highway, Route 1, California

California's Pacific Coast Highway

California's Pacific Coast Highway

The scenery was beautiful – burnt orange heather covered the hills beside the road. As we approached Monterey we could see the ocean – the sun was beaming on the water. – Sistersontour

8. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.

Cestlavie at the Holocaust Memorial Museum

Cestlavie at the Holocaust Memorial Museum

That time period has always fascinated me and I’ve read tons of books from all different perspectives, but I loved putting it all together by walking through the stages, from Hitler’s insidious rise to power all the way through the Nuremberg trials. – Cestlavie

9. Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts

Elrigster in Boston

Elrigster in Boston

We decide to follow the Freedom Trail (although the name nearly puts me off) which takes us from the main state house all the way over to the bunker hill monument on the other side of the river passing by a pletora of points of interest on the way. – Elrigster

10. Central Park, New York, New York

Leanneruss in Central Park

Leanneruss in Central Park

Checked out Strawberry Fields and the memorial to John Lennon. Lots of people were there laying flowers and paying respects. I sat relaxed and people watched while listening to some John Lennon classics on my iPod. – Leanneruss

Hot places

Billy Pittenger: Local Expert for New York state

Billy Pittenger is one of TravelPod’s newest Local Experts. He volunteered to help out in the New York forum, but his help on South America has also been priceless. Here’s what Billy has to say about New York:

Why did you become a Local Expert?
I saw that there were two experts for New York City, but they didn’t really talk about the rest of the state. All my knowledge of New York is about the rest of the state, not the city, so I figured I should share it.

What’s are the best and worst things about living in New York?

Best 2 things – New York has something for everyone, no matter what you want, you can find it somewhere in the state. And secondly, NYC is the best hub in the US for direct flights to pretty much every corner of the world.
Worst thing – Winters are horrible if you’re having to deal with it day in and day out, shoveling snow, going to work, etc.

What are the top five or 10 things for travelers to do in New York outside of NYC?

Wine tours of the finger lakes
Skiing in the Adirondacks
Horse-racing at Saratoga Raceway
Stay at the Sagamore in Lake George
Catch a race at Watkins Glen
Go bob-sledding at the Olympic Park in Lake Placid
Drive down a 2-lane road through the Adirondack Mountains in the fall as the leaves are changing

Billy "rockin' the Fiat in Brazil"

Billy "rockin' the Fiat in Brazil"

What are some of your best and worst travel experiences?

Best – Landing on an isolated lake in the outer reaches of Alaska in an amphibious plane, then rafting down a river for 6 days with no cell phones, email, or other daily distractions. Another would be trying to drive a souped-up V8 Pontiac Trans-Am down the highway during a blizzard in New York…and not dying.
Worst – (Knocks on wood) I haven’t had too many bad travel experiences. But getting a flat tire on the moving trailer during the drive from Alabama to New York sucked pretty hard.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Managing to graduate with an B.S. in Engineering from RIT while simultaneously holding down 5 part-time jobs.

That and completely surprising my wife when I proposed. I answered the door on one knee when she came back to her apartment (in Rochester, NY) from work…and she thought I was in Michigan on a co-op. I still smile when I think about the look of confusion on her face before she figured out what was going on.

Where are you planning on traveling in the future?

Currently in Brazil. But I’m trying to be able to join the Traveler’s Century Club before I’m 30 (less than 4 years to go). So lots of traveling in the future…
May 3 – traveling Sao Paulo to France, then England, back to home in New York
May 14 – road trip to Chicago, then Detroit and Toronto
May 20 – Alabama.
May 31 – 2-week trip to London, Cornwall, Guernsey, Jersey, Wales, Isle of Man, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Ireland.
July – Then will see what deals we can find on Caribbean cruises.
Sept – Most likely to Russia for a job for a few weeks.
October – Back to Brazil, hopefully can take vacation before work this time.
2010 – Travel to every country in Europe

What do you do with most of your time?

Working a lot…and when not working, traveling or planning travel. Planning to get a motorcycle this summer to keep me occupied if there aren’t any new jobs to travel to.

What’s a typical day like for you?

Working days? Wake up early…~5-5:30am, work for 10 to 16 hours, dinner, watch a TV show, plan a little more of the next trip, then sleep.

Non-working days? There is no such thing as typical!!

What’s your favourite part of the TravelPod forum?

Being able to find insider info to pretty much any part of the world. It’s much better to hear about a place from those who have been there.

TravelPod Local Expert profiles

10 chocolate lover destinations

1. Oaxaca, Mexico

"This is where the magic happens"

"This is where the magic happens"

Oaxaca is the home of mole, probably the most interesting culinary tradition in Mexico. It is made from countless spices, but also include a dose of chocolate.Bocalee
2. Ghana

Cocoa fruit in Ghana

Cocoa fruit in Ghana

I ate a number of these. The fruit inside, surrounding the seed used to make chocolate, tastes like sour candy. – Exumbris
3. Hershey, Pennsylvania, United States

Street sign in Hershey

Street sign in Hershey

This is a fun place to visit for anybody of all ages, but an absolute MUST for “Chocoholics”. Chictravelers2

4. Philippines

French toast with chocolate in the Philippines

French toast with chocolate in the Philippines

In the Philippines, breakfast French Toast is served with Chocolate syrup. It looked so delicious I ordered it for my dessert instead.Dreyes

5. Zurich, Switzerland

Patti drinking hot chocolate in Zurich

Patti drinking hot chocolate in Zurich

We took a scenic boat ride around Lake Zurich, enjoyed the best hot chocolate in the world in the world’s largest chocolate shop, and even found pints of cider in a local pub.Ryanandpatti

6. Bocas del Toro, Panama

Cocoa beans in Panama

Cocoa beans in Panama

Finally, off to snorkelling. The primary goal of the day. But first, food. Uhhh, problem. We spent all of our money on chocolate. – Thepotvins


7. Cologne, Germany

Chocolate molds at the Lindt chocolate factory

Chocolate molds at the Lindt chocolate factory

I bought a couple of the Lindt truffles…and like everything else…they really do taste better at the Lindt factory.Mackieineurope
8. New York, NY

Frozen hot chocolate in New York

Frozen hot chocolate in New York

And Caroline enjoyed a private moment of pure caloric bliss with a famous frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity Café. Heaven.Cc_world_tour

9. Bruges, Belgium

Chocolate shop in Bruges

Chocolate shop in Bruges

It is official, they are keeping all the chocolate in Belgium.Jewels24

10. Barcelona, Spain

Chocolate con churros by Ckuryak

Chocolate con churros by Ckuryak

So Chocolate con Churros is a standard snack or sweet dish in Spain. It is basically fried dough (like a funnel cake) that you dip in chocolate pudding. As you can see, my mouth was faster than my camera. – Ckuryak

Hot places

Top 10 most disappointing tourist spots in the world

eTurbo News recently listed the 10 most disappointing tourist spots in the world. TravelPodders seemed to disagree with all but one of the 10 on the list. Here’s what they have to say:

1. The Eiffel Tower – TravelPod verdict: Not so disappointing

Jcharwell's dinner in Paris

Jcharwell's dinner in Paris

“I then headed to the Eiffel Tower lawn to enjoy some vino and watch the sunset. After a bottle of wine and a spectacular view, I headed for the top to the Eiffel Tower.”Jcharwell

2. The Louvre (Mona Lisa) – TravelPod verdict: Not so disappointing

Mona Lisa at the Louvre

Mona Lisa at the Louvre

“A week or so ago, I had he pleasure of finally seeing Leonardo DaVinci’s Mona Lisa. Admire from afar, like a true beauty, is all that one can do – but it was amazing none the less.”Klauridsen
3. Times Square: TravelPod verdict – Not so disappointing

Times Square with Kristenjohn

Times Square with Kristenjohn

“We had a wander around all the streets, we went to M & M World, possibly the best place on Earth!!”Kristenjohn
4. Las Ramblas, Spain: TravelPod verdict – Not so disappointing

Kwt1981 in Las Ramblas

Kwt1981 in Las Ramblas

“We all loved the area around the Museum of Modern Art, Las Ramblas -artsy, small winding cobblestone streets, shops, cafe’s, old, young – fantastico!” – Kwt1981

5. Statue of Liberty: TravelPod verdict – Not so disappointing

Paulandcarolyn at the Statue of Liberty

Paulandcarolyn at the Statue of Liberty

“Today we went to see the Statue Of Liberty and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum on the ferry. Not the best day weather wise – very overcast and hazy. Very interesting though and worth the trip.”Paulandcarolyn
6. Spanish Steps, Rome: TravelPod verdict – Big disappointment

Christineraymo at the Spanish Steps

Christineraymo at the Spanish Steps

“We walked to the Spanish Steps, not a very big deal, just a bunch of kids sitting on an really big staircase. Stairs were about the last things we wanted to see at that point.” – Christineraymo

7. The White House: TravelPod verdict – Not so disappointing

Nietsreuef at the White House

Nietsreuef at the White House

“Architecture here is magnificent. The Capitol, White House, Museums, Treasury Department, National Archives, National Gallery of Art, Old Post Office, to name a few of the best.”Nietsreuef
8. The Pyramids, Egypt: TravelPod verdict – Not so disappointing

Justinrowe in Egypt

Justinrowe in Egypt

“There’s no denying that The Pyramids are spectacular. It is just astounding how the Ancient Egyptian managed to construct such enormous monuments.”Justinrowe
9. The Brandenburg Gate, Germany: TravelPod Verdict – Not so disappointing

The Brandenburg Gate at night

The Brandenburg Gate at night

“From there we headed through the impressive Brandenburg Gate to the Reichstag, the German Parliament.”Meganandkevin

10. The Leaning Tower of Pisa: TravelPod verdict – Not so disappointing

Duomo and the Leaning Tower of Pisa

Duomo and the Leaning Tower of Pisa

“Chris and I were the very first people to climb the tower today and what a spectacular sight it was to behold Tuscany at such a young hour of morning.” – Katieandchris

Hot places

5 best waterfalls in America for families

A new book from National Geographic highlights the top 10 things to do for families. Here’s their list of best waterfalls for families in the U.S. TravelPod bloggers visited a few of them, and took some breathtaking photos. Have a look for yourself:

1. Niagara Falls, New York

PaulandCarolyn at Niagara Falls

PaulandCarolyn at Niagara Falls

2. Cavern Cascade, Watkins Glen, New York

Watkins Glen with Rbartorillo

Watkins Glen with Rbartorillo

3. Multnomah Falls, Troutdale, Oregon

Fact at Multnomah Falls

Fact at Multnomah Falls

4. Bridal Veil Falls, Corbett, Oregon

Bridal Veil Falls and Robrucky

Robrucky in Oregon

5. Wailua Falls, Kauai, Hawaii

Wailua Falls in Hawaii

Elopfamily at Wailua Falls in Hawaii

Travel tips

Top 10 tourist attractions in the USA

Based on local tourist boards, here are the numbers for the most popular tourist destinations in the United States with some interesting blog posts. Do you agree with the list?

1. Times Square, New York City
37.6 million visitors

Carolyn of paulandcarolyn in Times Square

Carolyn of paulandcarolyn in Times Square

2. The Las Vegas Strip, Nev.
30 Million visitors

Emilykamal's view of the Las Vegas strip

Emilykamal's view of the Las Vegas strip

3. National Mall and Memorial Parks, Washington, D.C.
25 million visitors

Globetrotters at the presidential inauguration

Globetrotters at the presidential inauguration

4. Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Boston
20 Million visitors

Childofsolitude in Faneuil Hall Marketplace

Childofsolitude in Faneuil Hall Marketplace

5. Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
17.1 million visitors

Lostagain2006 in DisneyWorld

Lostagain2006 in DisneyWorld

6. Disneyland Park, Anaheim, Calif.
14.9 million visitors

Samira_steve explore Disneyland

Samira_steve explore Disneyland

7. Fisherman’s Wharf/Golden Gate National Recreation Area, San Francisco
14.1 million visitors

Lukeroyle on Fisherman's Wharf

Lukeroyle on Fisherman's Wharf

8. Niagara Falls, N.Y.
12 million visitors

Lukeroyle in Niagara Falls, New York

Lukeroyle in Niagara Falls, New York

9. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tenn./N.C.
9.04 million visitors

Andyfreshwater in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Andyfreshwater in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

10. Navy Pier, Chicago
8.6 million visitors

Cestlavie on Navy Pier

Cestlavie on Navy Pier

Travel news

New York Local Expert: Zohar Laor

Zohar Laor is TravelPod’s trusty Local Expert from New York. He’s got all kinds of great tidbits and knows a lot about the best festivals and food that can be found in the great state. He knows New York City like the back of his hand, and he’s all over attractions in the rest of the state and New Jersey like a wet blanket. I asked him a few questions about the region he represents in the TravelPod forums.
Zohar Laor, TravelPod\'s New York Local Expert

Zohar Laor, TravelPod

Why did you become a Local Expert?
I became a local expert for two distinct reasons. The first reason is to share some of the knowledge acquired by being in the NJ / NYC area for many years, the second reason is to give my family and me more of a motivation to check out local attractions.

What are the best and worst things about living in New York?
The best thing is that you could literally drive somewhere different every weekend for the rest of your life and never be in the same place twice. The worst is the high cost of living and / or staying in the area.

What are the top five or 10 things for travelers to do in New York?
NYC:
1) Top of the Empire State Building or Top Of The Rock
2) See a Broadway Show
3) Visit the Bronx Zoo
4) Stroll in Central Park
5) Go to the Museum of Modern Art

New York State:
1) Niagara Falls
2) Finger Lakes Region
3) Hudson Valley
4) Hike the Adirondacks
5) Dive the New York State Seaway Trail

New Jersey:
1) Take a ferry to the Statue of Liberty
2) Canoeing in Delaware River
3) Drive to Atlantic City
4) Visit the Jersey Shore
5) Visit historic Morristown

What are some of your best and worst travel experiences?

The best is being able to introduce my kids to friends and family overseas and watch them as they experience new adventures and expand their minds.
The worst – entertaining a 3 year old on a 12 and a half hour flight.

What is your proudest accomplishment?


Living a good, productive and honest life.

Where are you planning on traveling in the future?


We are not planning any “long range” traveling until our son (who is currently 1) will be a bit older. Meanwhile we have several plans for local traveling such as Pennsylvania Dutch Country, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Virginia and Washington DC.

What do you do with most of your time (hobbies, work, whatever)?
I rest 40 hours a week as a software engineer and then go home. I have been collecting Superman related items for many years, recently started to get interested in woodworking and writing an opinion column for the on-line edition of a state wide newspaper.

What’s a typical day like for you?
Get up at around 5:30 – 6:00 in the morning with my son, go to work and come home. Then I start my day.

What’s your favourite TravelPod blog post?
http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog/laorfamily/daytrips/tpod.html?tweb_UID=laorfamily&tweb_token=2461051551448356613

If you’ve got questions about New York or New Jersey, just ask Zohar in the TravelPod travel forums!

See you there,

Louise Brown

TravelPod Community Manager

TravelPod Local Expert profiles

The “Telectroscope”…

is an art exhibit in New York and London that allows you to stand on one side of the Atlantic Ocean, and peer through a “secret tunnel” displaying the other side.

You can view the American side at the Fulton Ferry Landing near Brooklyn Bridge and the British side is on display on the south side of the river near Tower Bridge.

If you live in New York and have friends in London, you can coordinate your visits and wave to each other through the “tunnel”. It looks pretty cool and lots of people are having fun with it.

Telectroscope

If you’re planning on going to check it out, it’s only on display until June 15.

Have you seen it? Who did you see on the other side?

Tell me about it in the TravelPod travel forums.

Louise Brown

TravelPod Community Manager

Hot places

Top 10 free attractions in the US and Europe

TripAdvisor released their top 10 free attractions in the US and Europe today and I am very surprised at the result.

How come Niagara Falls was not included? It’s absolutely free, you can see it for nothing! Even from the American side.

Also! What about Mount Rushmore?! Where is that on this list?! Mount Rushmore is pretty amazing. Why isn’t that included? Last time I checked, it was free to look up and admire a giant sculpture in a mountain.

I can’t believe that some mundane fountains made number one on the US list. The entire United States of America must have more exciting and beautiful free things to do, don’t you think?

What about in Europe? I think that list is a little bit better than the US one.

What I learned today is that there are beautiful things everywhere that are free, and it can’t be whittled down to 20. No how, no way!

Does anybody else disagree with this list too? Come chat about it in the TravelPod travel forums.

Here is the unedited list in question:
Top 10 Free U.S. Attractions

1. Bellagio Fountains, Las Vegas, Nevada

2. Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia

3. Waimea Canyon, Waimea, Hawaii

4. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California

5. Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park, Utah

6. U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii

7. Pacific Coast Highway, Route 1, California

8. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, D.C.

9. Freedom Trail, Boston, Massachusetts

10. Central Park, New York, New York

Top 10 Free European Attractions

1. Pantheon, Rome, Italy

2. National Gallery, London, England

3. Museum of the Jewellery Quarter, Birmingham, England

4. Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris, France

5. St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, Brussels, Belgium

6. Duomo – Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence, Italy

7. Retiro Park, Madrid, Spain

8. Westminster Abbey, London, England

9. St. Mark’s Basilica, Venice, Italy

10. Giant’s Causeway, Bushmills, Northern Ireland

See you in the forums,

Louise Brown

TravelPod Community Manager

Travel news