30 Things to Do in Chicago

My husband and I have visited Chicago before, but we recently took our two boys, who are 6 and 9. Their verdict? Coolest City Ever. It’s kinder than New York, still with the buzz, energy, culture and cuisine of a world-class city. Most believe The Windy City is named for the unforgiving cold breezes off Lake Michigan in winter, when in fact it’s an 1890 reference about local politicians being full of hot air. Chicago is also called Second City, after it literally rose from the ashes following the devastating 1871 fire to become a world showcase for design and architecture.

  1. Getting a selfie in Millennium Park at “The Bean,” the reflective Cloud Gate sculpture.

  2. Walking over Frank Gehry's artsy BP Bridge to Maggie Daley playground, an incredible space with creative play equipment, an enchanted garden, slides, swings and more!

  3. Renting rollerblades from the Maggie Daley Field House and cruising around the park.

  4. Going to Stan’s for coffee and doughnuts that almost look too good to eat—almost!

  5. Catching that Broadway show you’ve been dying to see in the Theatre District.

  6. Sipping old-fashioned cocktails while admiring the incredible ceiling frescos in the lobby of the Palmer House, the oldest hotel in the United States.

  7. Riding the “L.” Not only do kids love taking the train, it’s cheaper than an Uber/Lyft ride.

  8. Taking a river cruise to admire the architecture then going through the lock system out to Lake Michigan to admire the skyline—and Buckingham Fountain—at night.

  9. Snagging a table at the bar at Gibson’s and tucking into a legendary steak.

  10. Laughing until you cry at Second City, the famous comedy club where Bill Murray, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Steve Carell and Chris Farley got their start.

  11. Ducking into the decades-old Exchequer Pub for famous deep-dish pizza and a pint.

  12. Savoring the truffle toast during brunch at the widely acclaimed Monteverde on the West Loop.

  13. Watching the beluga whales at the Shedd Aquarium then watching the awe-inspiring dolphins leap eight feet out of water.

  14. Devouring the creamiest hazelnut gelato at Eataly.

  15. Ordering fried slivers of pig ears at The Purple Pig and surprisingly loving them!

  16. Conquering your fear of heights on the Tilt attraction at the 360 Chicago Observation Deck (100 stories high) or the Skydeck at Willis Tower (110 stories high).

  17. Playing interactive games and seeing rare memorabilia at the Chicago Sports Museum.

  18. Pub-crawling around Wrigleyville then catching a Cubs game at Wrigley Field.

  19. Shopping the trendy galleries and boutiques in Wicker Park.

  20. Browsing the incredible designer names at The Magnificent Mile and wishing you had $500 to spend on tennis shoes.

  21. Sampling the amazing popcorn at Garrett’s that tastes as good as it smells.

  22. Listening to incredible jazz at The Green Mill.

  23. Getting free admission into the 35-acre Lincoln Park Zoo, one of the oldest zoos in the country.

  24. Enjoying innovative Mexican cuisine at the Rick Bayless landmark Frontera Grill.

  25. Spending half a day with your jaw dropped at the Picasso’s, Van Gough’s, Hopper’s and Seurat’s at the Chicago Institute of Art.

  26. Visiting the Museum of Science and Industry, one of the only remaining structures of the Chicago World Fair constructed in 1893. (Plane ride read: Devil in the White City)

  27. Riding the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier, in the city where the world’s first Ferris wheel premiered during the World’s Fair by George Ferris.

  28. Stimulating your brain at the Field Museum, which houses 40 million artifacts and specimens.

  29. Taking the short trip to Oak Park to see the house and studio of Frank Lloyd Wright. (Plane ride read: Loving Frank)

  30. Finding your inner Ferris Bueller and relishing your day in Chicago.

30 Things to Do in San Diego

San Diego is everything good about California—amazing weather, gorgeous beaches, an active lifestyle and friendly people. In “America’s Finest City” you’ll find green space and stunning vistas around every corner, enticing everyone from avid hikers and surfers to casual dog owners and families outside.

  1. Visit the USS Midway Museum, located in the longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century.

  2. Snap a photo by the 25-foot “Unconditional Surrender” sculpture, and recreate your own with your special someone!

  3. Jog along San Diego Bay with the convention center as your starting point.

  4. Rent electric scooters to get around town by activating them with your smart phone.

  5. Take your kids to the New Children’s Museum downtown.

  6. Shop for souvenirs and grab an ice cream at Seaport Village.

  7. Take the elevator to the Top of the Hyatt for spectacular views of downtown and the bay.

  8. Dine on gourmet Mexican fare outside at Puesto at the headquarters.

  9. Take your dogs for a swim at Mission Bay Park.

  10. Peruse the local boutiques on Orange Avenue in the beautiful town of Coronado.

  11. Stay for a matinee at Lamb’s Players Theatre.

  12. Walk through the historic lobby of the Hotel del Coronado, known by locals as simply the Del.

  13. Spend the afternoon at Coronado Beach off Ocean Boulevard.

  14. Explore the gardens and attractions at Balboa Park, the cultural hub of city.

  15. Spend a half day at the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

  16. Visit the Cabrillo National Monument, commemorating the European discovery of San Diego in 1542.

  17. Hike down to the Point Loma Tide Pools and peek inside the Old Point Loma Lighthouse.

  18. Post your next Instagram from Sunset Cliffs Natural Park.

  19. Get a tee time at Torrey Pines, one of the most spectacular city courses in the country.

  20. Watch the surfers from the Ocean Beach Pier.

  21. Down a burger at Hodad’s on Newport Avenue.

  22. Scream your head off at SeaWorld on the Electric Eel, the city’s tallest, fastest roller coaster.

  23. Visit the picturesque town of La Jolla and see the resident seals and sea lions at La Jolla Cove. (Sea lions bark and have visible ears, seals do not!)

  24. Channel your inner Goonie inside the Sunny Jim Sea Cave.

  25. Hike along the cliffs from The Cave Store toward La Jolla Shores for incredible views.

  26. Refuel with great coffee and avocado toast at Brockton Villa.

  27. Hang out at the repurposed 1920s military barracks, Liberty Station, and catch a concert or an outdoor movie.

  28. Enjoy an authentic meal at Little Italy.

  29. Cheer on the Padres at Petco Stadium while soaking in the views.

  30. End the evening with an old fashioned at The Whiskey House in the Gaslamp Quarter.


San Diego harbor and skyline ©iStock/Ron_Thomas

“Unconditional Surrender” on the downtown waterfront, La Jolla coastline, La Jolla Cove sea lion, La Jolla surfers, Point Loma Lighthouse at Cabrillo Monument, Outdoor dining at Liberty Station ©Laura Anders Lee

30 Things to Do in Rome

For more than 500 years, Rome ruled the world. For art lovers, history buffs, religious pilgrims and foodies, Rome very much remains the epicenter today. Passionate travelers come to the Eternal City in droves to experience Italy’s famous La Dolce Vita against a stunning historic backdrop. Here are 30 ways to experience the very heart of Rome.

  1. Start each day with a cup of the world’s best coffee. (No Starbucks here!)

  2. Toss three coins into Trevi Fountain first thing in the morning before the crowds come.

  3. Admire the Baroque fountains by Gian Lorenzo Bernini at Piazza Navona.

  4. Select a bouquet of peonies for your room at the Campo de’ Fiori outdoor market between Piazza Navona and the Tiber River.

  5. Look past the graffiti, traffic and cigarette butts to notice flowering baskets, bougainvillea, painted wooden shutters and hidden courtyards.

  6. Gain a sense of accomplishment and save money by taking the metro!

  7. Take a Colosseum Underground Tour for an exclusive look into the city’s gruesome past.

  8. Walk in the footsteps of Julius Caesar at the Roman Forum and Palatine Hill, one of Rome’s most ancient spots.

  9. Visit the Jewish Ghetto west of the Palatino for the famous Bocca della Verita “Mouth of Truth” and amazing fried artichokes.

  10. Plan in advance to attend the free Papal Visit in St. Peter’s Square most Wednesdays at 10 am.

  11. Shop for trinkets and religious relics ahead of time to be blessed by the Pope.

  12. Climb 551 steps to the top of St. Peter’s Basilica and see the disciple’s giant key to the kingdom of heaven.

  13. Skip the long lines by booking a private tour of the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.

  14. Visit the often-missed Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls, one of Rome’s four major churches.

  15. Grab a table at a sidewalk cafe in Trastevere, just south of the Vatican.

  16. Take a walk up to the Garibaldi monument on the Gianicolo, Rome’s second-highest hill with magnificent views.

  17. Peek inside the Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, one of the oldest churches in Rome, with breathtaking mosaics.

  18. Eat gelato every chance you get.

  19. Order wine and pasta at every meal.

  20. Walk off the calories by exploring the city by foot. (Use Google Maps to navigate the labyrinth streets)

  21. Take shelter in the Pantheon during an afternoon shower and watch the rain fall inside through the oculus.

  22. Wait for your train at the Mercado Centrale Roma, an artisan food market at the main Roma Termini station.

  23. Buy a ticket a few weeks in advance for the Borghese Gallery and admire works by Caravaggio, Bernini, Rubens and Raphael.

  24. Escape from the crowds and find peace among the umbrella trees in Borghese Gardens.

  25. Celebrate happy hour—or Aperitivo—with an Aperol Spritz and small bowls of almonds, fresh olives and potato chips at a nearby bar.

  26. Splurge on drinks at the Hotel Eden’s rooftop bar for incredible views of the city.

  27. Sit on the Spanish steps for a while and soak in the colorful scene.

  28. Walk in the footsteps of Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn on Via Margutta, Rome’s charming short street.

  29. End a great meal at Babette with their signature lemon cake that’s absolutely heavenly.

  30. Toast to a perfect day with a limoncello as bright as the city.


Gelato at Pantheon: ©istock/Ugur Keskin

Spanish Steps, Pope Francis During the Papal Visit, Campo de Fiori flowers, Roman Forum with umbrella trees, charming streets, Raphael’s “School of Athens” in the Vatican Museums : ©Laura Anders Lee

30 Things to Do at Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World is the No. 1 tourist attraction in the world—and for good reason. Every year families flock to the place where dreams come true to experience their own fairytale world of magic. Everyone does their research on the best attractions, but here are a few extra experiences to enhance your visit to Walt Disney World’s resorts and theme parks.

  1. Reserve the most popular rides in advance on Disney’s free FastPass+ system.

  2. Bring your own picnic and cooler of drinks into Disney’s theme parks to save money and time in line.

  3. End each evening with the fireworks displays at the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Hollywood Studios and a waterfront light show at Animal Kingdom.

  4. Take advantage of Magic Kingdom’s free activities like the Pirates of the Caribbean treasure hunt in Adventureland and the Sorcerers spellbinding game on Main Street.

  5. Race LEGO cars at the world’s largest LEGO store at Disney Springs.*

  6. Don’t miss the lively parades and character street parties throughout the day at Magic Kingdom.

  7. Become a Jedi for the day and face off with Darth Vader at Hollywood Studios.

  8. See giraffes and zebras and admire African art at the Animal Kingdom Lodge.*

  9. Take a breather while the kids play on the Space Base playground inside of Mission Space at Epcot or at the Dinosaur playground and fossil dig at Animal Kingdom.

  10. Order a signature margarita at La Cava del Tequila, tucked away in the Mexico Pavilion at Epcot.

  11. Visit the Grand Floridian at Christmas to see the three-story tree and gingerbread house.*

  12. Hide away with a glass of wine inside the cozy wine cellar at the Italy Pavilion at Epcot.

  13. Get everyone in the family a gift with international flair in the specialty shops at Epcot’s World Showcase.

  14. Reserve a character breakfast at one of Disney’s resorts or at the Four Seasons.*

  15. Sign the kids up for Epcot’s scavenger hunts during Easter, fall’s Food & Wine festival and spring’s Flower & Garden festival at the Port of Entry.

  16. Savor the flavors of Africa with street food and Ethiopian beer at Harambe Market at Animal Kingdom.

  17. When you’re tired of the long lines at Magic Kingdom, head to the Swiss Family Robinson Tree House, People Mover, Tom Sawyer Island, Dumbo indoor playground or the train station for a fun ride around the park.

  18. Anger the gods by ordering the Uh-Oa drink at Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, hidden away at the Polynesian Resort.*

  19. Take a free water taxi ride from the Grand Floridian, Wilderness Lodge, the Swan & Dolphin, Port Orleans Resort or Disney Springs.*

  20. Play a round of golf at one of Disney’s scenic courses or take the kids for miniature golf at two interactive putt putt courses.*

  21. Watch the Braves during spring training at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports.*

  22. Snag the perfect souvenir at the world’s largest Disney store at Disney Springs.*

  23. Collect and trade Disney pins with cast members at any resort or theme park.

  24. Take a scenic walk from Wilderness Lodge to Fort Wilderness to admire Cinderella’s horses and take a pony ride.*

  25. Cool off with a Dole Whip in Adventureland.

  26. Attend a special dinner show at one of Disney’s resorts, like the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue at Fort Wilderness and Spirit of Aloha at the Polynesian.*

  27. Walk down the streets of Radiator Springs at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort.*

  28. See mini-Broadway shows like “The Lion King” at Animal Kingdom and “Beauty and the Beast” at Hollywood Studios.

  29. Rest your feet at inside movie theaters for the Frozen Sing-Along and Muppets 3D at Hollywood Studios; Mickey’s PhilharMagic at Magic Kingdom and the Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival at Epcot.

  30. Cruise around the Seven Seas Lagoon on the monorail for a wonderful and free tour of Disney’s finest resorts and the Magic Kingdom.*

*Activity doesn’t require theme park admission

30 Things to Do in Louisiana's Cajun Country

Louisiana’s Cajun Country is famous for its food, bayous, music and joy of life—or as they say here, the joie de vivre. An hour west of the Mississippi River, the area was settled in the late 1700s by French Catholics exiled from Acadie, Canada. In starting a new life along Louisiana’s bayous, these resilient people created one of the most distinctive and authentic cultures in America.

  1. Take an airboat ride through the Atchafalaya Basin, the largest swamp in the U.S.

  2. Sample the world’s best boudin, a specialty sausage stuffed with rice, at The Best Stop, Billy’s Boudin & Cracklins and Don’s Speciality Meats in Scott

  3. Wash down a roast beef po’boy with an ice-cold sno ball at Olde Tyme Grocery

  4. Dance off the calories at Buck & Johnny’s Zydeco Breakfast in Breaux Bridge

  5. Explore Jungle Gardens on Avery Island and visit the Buddha temple

  6. Learn how TABASCO sauce is made on an Avery Island tour

  7. Chase peacocks at the enchanting Rip Van Winkle Gardens in New Iberia

  8. Attend Festival International de Louisiane in the spring, the world’s largest international music showcase

  9. See original Blue Dog paintings at the Rodrigue Gallery in the Oil Center

  10. Enjoy the fine side of Cajun cuisine at Charley G’s, Ruffino’s and Marcello’s

  11. Refuel with an espresso downtown at RÊVE, Lafayette’s local coffee roasters

  12. Talk a self-guided walking tour of River Ranch to admire the collection of Louisiana architecture

  13. Tour the University of Louisiana campus and check out their resident alligators in Cypress Swamp

  14. Let the kids run loose at Girard Park, just south of the University of Louisiana campus

  15. Learn about the Colonial days of Louisiana and take a boat ride on the river at Vermilionville

  16. Get fresh local crawfish from February through May

  17. Enjoy a Swamp Pop Old Fashioned at Pop’s Po’Boys, where they mix bourbon with Satsuma Fizz pop, made with local cane sugar

  18. Hang out in downtown Lafayette with a Ragin’ Cajuns Ale at The Wurst Biergarten, (that’s really the best!)

  19. Brunch at The French Press with champagne cocktails and gumbo poutine

  20. Shop for local goodies on Saturdays at the Lafayette Farmers and Artisan Market at the Horse Farm

  21. Indulge on crawfish enchiladas at Prejean’s while you toe-tap to the music

  22. Attend one of 20 family-friendly Mardi Gras parades and sample king cake every February

  23. Catch a live concert while bowling at the Rock ‘n’ Bowl de Lafayette

  24. Make a pilgrimage to St. Martinville to find the grave of Evangeline, made famous by the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem

  25. Admire the works of local artisans at Sans Souci Fine Crafts Gallerie in downtown Lafayette

  26. Score an awesome T-shirt at Parish Ink in Lafayette

  27. Kayak through ancient cypress trees on Lake Martin with Champagne’s

  28. Visit the breathtaking Cathedral of St. John with its 500-year-old oak tree and above-ground cemetery

  29. Enjoy the best Cajun music food, and art at the Festivals Acadiens et Créoles in October

  30. Cool off with an adult beverage at one of the area's many drive-thru daiquiri shops

30 Things to Do in Fairhope, Alabama

Nestled on the grassy bluffs of Mobile Bay, Fairhope exudes small-town charm. Authors and artists have long called this utopia home, drawing inspiration from magnificent live oaks, Southern hospitality and a sunset-soaked bay. Between New Orleans and Seaside, Florida, Fairhope should definitely be on your Gulf Coast bucket list.

  1. Walk to the end of the Fairhope Pier to watch the next big one get reeled in

  2. Order a dreamy Fairhope Float at Mr. Gene’s Beans

  3. Start your day with Fairhope Roasters coffee and doughnuts at the Warehouse Bakery

  4. Shop downtown’s upscale boutiques like CK Collection, SWAY and Sadie’s

  5. Peruse the works of local authors like Fannie Flagg, Rick Bragg and Winston Groom at Page & Palette

  6. Stay at the historic Grand Hotel, originally built in 1847, or visit the lobby for 4:00 tea

  7. Stroll down the boardwalk to admire century’s-old houses just south of the Grand Hotel

  8. Play a round of golf at the Robert Trent Jones course

  9. Spoil yourself with a treatment at the Grand Hotel Spa and linger in the luxe quiet room

  10. Sip a mint julep from Bucky’s Birdcage Lounge

  11. Take photos in the rose garden, with 2,000 blooms at the Fairhope pier

  12. Find something fabulous for your home at Green Gates Market

  13. Shop for affordable local art and gifts at the Garage Studio in Point Clear

  14. Drive up Highway 32 to admire the rolling horse farms—or better yet, come for Polo at the Point in October

  15. Visit the studio of Nall, an internationally renowned artist who studied with Salvador Dalí

  16. Put your toes in the sand at the public beach on Mobile Bay

  17. Time your visit for March during the annual Arts and Crafts Festival when all the azaleas are in bloom

  18. Order the locally sourced shrimp, crab claws and tuna dip at Big Daddy’s on Fish River

  19. See a pair of magical fairytale castles on Oak Avenue and Bancroft Street

  20. Dine on amazing seafood like the shrimp and grits, local blue crab cake and fresh daily catch at Camellia Cafe

  21. Take the kids to Fantasy Island Toy Store, family-owned for more than 40 years

  22. Enjoy a leisurely brunch of Southern and Creole-inspired dishes at The Fairhope Inn

  23. Let the kids run free at Fairhopers Community Park and the pirate-themed splash pad

  24. Sample chocolate and confections at Punta Clara Kitchen

  25. From Fairhope Avenue, drive north down Bayview Street to admire the craftsman bungalows on the bluff

  26. Come in February for one of three family-friendly Mardi Gras parades

  27. Join the locals for happy hour at Red or White wine bar

  28. Snag the perfect souvenir at The Fairhope Store

  29. Order a craft cocktail inside the cozy Tongue & Groove

  30. Stop whatever you’re doing to watch the sunset over Mobile Bay

30 Things to Do in New Orleans

Celebrating its 300th anniversary, the Crescent City is world-famous for jazz, Creole cuisine and a lively party scene. Whether it’s the Old World European feel or the especially potent cocktails, the city gives travelers a Big Easy escape from reality. Romantic for couples, fun with friends, and cultural for families, New Orleans offers an enriching travel experience beyond the bars of Bourbon Street.

  1. Toast your arrival with a French 75 at Arnaud’s award-winning French 75 Bar

  2. Stroll the streets of the French Quarter, stealing glimpses into hidden courtyards

  3. Watch the street artists, mimes and breakdancers in Jackson Square (bring your dollar bills!)

  4. Take a street car ride up St. Charles Avenue to admire magnificent mansions in the Garden District

  5. Sip a hurricane by the fiery foundain in the Pat O’Brien’s courtyard

  6. Kick off jazz brunch at Commander’s Palace with turtle soup

  7. Spot the albino alligators and send the kids down Monkey Hill at the Audubon Zoo

  8. Take a haunted tour through one of Louisiana’s unique above-ground cemeteries

  9. Slurp down oysters at Casamento’s, open since 1919 on Magazine Street

  10. Head to the end of Bourbon Street for Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, a watering hole since the 17oos

  11. Find the perfect Mardi Gras mask in the French Market

  12. Order warm beignets and a chicory cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde

  13. Let the kids run free in City Park to play and climb ancient oak trees

  14. Catch a concert at Preservation Jazz Hall

  15. Visit the historic Pontchartrain Hotel for mile-high pie or a cocktail in the rooftop bar

  16. Chant Who Dat! during a Saints Game in the Superdome

  17. Eat a chocolate-chip-and-cricket cookie inside the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium

  18. Take a carriage ride through the less-traveled streets of the French Quarter

  19. Browse jewelry, antiques, fine art and stationery along Royal Street

  20. Party with the locals on Frenchman Street in the Maringny

  21. Watch the sharks circle an underwater oil rig at the Audubon Aquarium

  22. Start your day with a decadent breakfast and brandy milk punch at Brennan’s

  23. Venture to the Central Business District for fine dining at places like Maypop, Compere Lapin, Peche, Cochon and Emeril’s original restaurant

  24. Nurse your hangover with a potato-stuffed omelet at The Camellia Grill Uptown or the praline bacon at Elizabeth’s in the Bywater

  25. Watch the paddlewheel boats go by on the muddy Mississippi River

  26. Take a driving tour of the modern homes by Brad Pitt’s Make It Right program in the Ninth Ward neighborhood hit by Hurricane Katrina

  27. Admire local and international works at the New Orleans Museum of Art and wander through the sculpture gardens

  28. Take in a world-famous Mardi Gras parade in February or visit Mardi Gras World anytime

  29. Stroll through the Roosevelt lobby to admire its historic grandeur, especially at Christmas time

  30. Join in on an impromptu second-line parade in the French Quarter