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Lively Antwerp is a hidden gem. Its medieval streets, Renaissance monuments and vibrant nightlife tend to be overshadowed by its reputation as center of the diamond trade and as the world's fifth-largest port. Biking is a popular choice for getting around this stylish Flemish city. See thousands of Old Masters at the Royal Museum and Rubens House. Experience the bustle of life at the Grote Markt. Marvel at the art and architecture of the still unfinished Cathedral of Our Lady, started in 1351.
Belgium's fourth-largest - and most beautiful - city is home to a quarter of a million people and a flourishing flower export trade. An important port, Ghent's city center is a pedestrian area that is like a museum to early Flemish architecture and a testament to the city's medieval might. Impressive Gothic sites, such as dramatic St. Bavo's Cathedral and the Castle of the Counts, inspire awe. The works of Flemish masters are housed in the distinguished Museum voor Schone Kunst.
What could be more romantic and inspiring than a place that looks like a backdrop for a fairy tale? The medieval overtones of Bruges’ cobblestone streets lead to countless historical, architectural and artistic wonders. Marvel at ornate houses lining intricate canals, and understand why this is a favorite destination for all types of travelers. The whole city emanates an appreciation of the past, a love of the present, and enthusiasm for the future. Don’t miss Hof Bladelin, Groeninge Museum, Church of Our Lady, and Belfry and Market Halls.
Lille is an architectural feast with strong Flemish influences from the Grand Place to the basilica of Notre Dame de la Treille to the quiet streets of row houses and gardens. For art buffs, Lille is home to the Musee d'Art Moderne and the Palais des Beaux Arts. Children will enjoy the Parc de Zoologique. Savvy travelers know that Lille has a fine public transit system, making this historical hotspot a pleasure to visit.
Touching Belgium on its west and just a few miles from Germany to the east, Maastricht is the capital of Holland’s southernmost region, Limburg. A town rich in history and culture, Maastricht boasts two wonderful town squares: Vrijthof, with Sint-Servaas Church, Sint-Jan's Cathedral and many bars, cafes and restaurants; and Markt, home to the town hall and, on Wednesday and Friday mornings, a fantastic vendor market. The city’s Vestigingswerken, or old town fortifications, are another big draw.
As Belgium’s largest coastal outpost, Ostend offers a rare taste of Flemish beach culture. Inland visitors flock to sandy beaches and the seaside promenade, while reminders of the city’s military and maritime history run deep in the old harbor town.
Holland's most modern city began as a fishing village in the 13th century. It was developing into an industrial and trading power when German bombers destroyed the city center and harbor in 1940. However, Rotterdam's unique architecture now brings many visitors to bike around this urbane, cosmopolitan city. Old Dutch-style houses can still be found in historic Delfshaven, from where the pilgrims set sail in 1620. Cultural offerings from summer's carnival to classical music give Amsterdam competition.
Lingering over pain au chocolat in a sidewalk café, relaxing after a day of strolling along the Seine and marveling at icons like the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe… the perfect Paris experience combines leisure and liveliness with enough time to savor both an exquisite meal and exhibits at the Louvre. Awaken your spirit at Notre Dame, bargain hunt at the Marché aux Puces de Montreuil or for goodies at the Marché Biologique Raspail, then cap it all off with a risqué show at the Moulin Rouge.
Conquering New York in one visit is impossible. Instead, hit the must-sees – the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art – and then explore off the beaten path with visits to The Cloisters or one of the city’s libraries. Indulge in the bohemian shops of the West Village or the fine dining of the Upper West Side. The bustling marketplace inside of Grand Central Station gives you a literal taste of the best the city has to offer.
From the National Mall’s monuments and memorials to vibrant neighborhoods filled with character and charm, DC is a world-class destination featuring breathtaking views, award-winning hotels and hundreds of free things to do. Experience outstanding performing arts at acclaimed theaters, shop in historic Georgetown, hear great live music at legendary venues, enjoy sporting entertainment from six professional franchises and be dazzled by a flourishing dining scene with Michelin-starred restaurants.
The windy city is a cornucopia of modern art, fine dining, cutting edge comedy, and die-hard sports fans. Snap a photo of your reflection in the silver Cloud Gate sculpture at Millennium Park before heading to Grant Park to get hit with the refreshing spray of Buckingham Fountain. There are dozens of museums and theater companies in Chicago, so a cultural experience is never hard to find. You’re sure to laugh your head off at the Second City Theater, the professional launch pad of many famous comedians.
Dubbed the Queen City, Charlotte reigns over a 300-square-mile (482-square-kilometer) hodgepodge of neighborhoods that spin out from the banks of the Catawba River. From brewery-heavy art districts to historical corridors dripping in charm, consider Charlotte a crowd pleaser.
With live music to be heard all across town, 24/7, 365 days a year, Music City lives up to its name. From honky-tonk bands jamming at Tootsie’s Orchid Lounge to songwriters in the round at the Bluebird Cafe and country music legends rocking the Grand Ole Opry, you never know who you might see. The creative spirit from Nashville's music landscape flows into the area's myriad art galleries, up-and-coming fashion scene, historic landmarks and chef-driven restaurants.
Atlanta has been dubbed everything from the "capital of the new South" and "the next international city" to "the best place to do business." It's also a great place to visit. Fueled by the prosperity of local mega companies like Coca Cola and Holiday Inn, the prestige of hosting the 1996 Summer Olympic Games and the energy of young upwardly mobile types who have migrated to the city in droves - Atlanta is on fire. And this time it's a good thing. From world-class restaurants and a myriad of cultural attractions to a hip nightlife and sporting events galore, the city is cosmopolitan in every sense of the word. But Atlanta has also managed to maintain its historic character. Stop by the Atlanta History Center or visit the Martin Luther King Jr. Historical Site, a moving tribute to an American icon. Browse through the former home of famous author Margaret Mitchell or pop into the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum for details on the life and times of the former president and his family. Whether you choose modern urban endeavors or old southern pleasures, Atlanta will not disappoint.
From the Magic Kingdom to magical spa treatments, Orlando sparkles with the promise of adventure. Spend a day exploring the world-famous Disney theme parks or screaming your head off on a Universal Studios roller coaster. For a less adrenaline-pumping afternoon, enjoy the quiet natural beauty of the Harry P. Leu Gardens or enjoy a seaweed scrub at a luxury day spa. Savor fresh and local ingredients at one of Orlando’s James Beard-nominated restaurants.
At the shore in Miami Beach, visitors can swim, surf and jet ski in the warm and crystal-clear Atlantic waters. You can also nap on the white sands, work on a tan or simply watch the beautiful people, especially at South Beach, a favorite of models and celebrities.
Miami is hot hot hot! And it’s not just the sultry weather. Here, the nightlife is scorching, thanks to a strong Latin influence and spicy salsa culture. Dance the noche away in a nightclub, or indulge in a fancy meal at one of the city’s celebrity-owned restaurants. By day, hit the beach of course, or have yourself a walkabout, taking in Miami’s colorful art deco architecture. Grab a Cuban sandwich in Little Havana, then ride the vintage carousel at Virginia Key Beach Park.