We all have exotic destinations on our bucket list, but logistics and money can keep that dream vacation at bay.
So we’ve picked six North American vacations that put the world at your feet.
Located in Little Havana, Calle Ocho offers the best Cubano eats on the continental U.S., plus colorful street art, crafts and Guayabera shirts, and cigarillo shops (if that’s your thing). Come in March for the Calle Ocho Festival, with food, music, folklore and 500 liters of sangria.
The oldest Japantown in America, San Francisco’s Western Addition is home to countless markets, teahouses and ramen joints. The heartbeat is Post Street, home to Peace Plaza, the Japan Center and the five-tiered Peace Pagoda.
Visit the Japanese Tea Garden in the warm-weather months, the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival is April or the Nihonmachi Street Fair in August, celebrating both ancient and modern Asian culture.
Montreal shares more than a language and lineage with the French capital: She’s loaded with graystone architecture, artsy locals and big Catholic cathedrals, like Notre-Dame Basilica in the historic district.
Some would argue that Montreal’s gay village is even better than La Marais, Paris’ gayborhood. Even Montreal’s subway system is based on the legendary Paris Metro.
Montreal even has its own fashion week every August—you don’t get more Parisian than that.
Winter is the best time to visit Ouray, “The Switzerland of America.” Along with skiing, snowmobiling and other winter sports, you can ice climb and bathe in hot springs. Oprah has been a guest at the historic Beaumont hotel and spa, the closest you’ll get to a Swiss chalet on this side of the Atlantic.
At the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center near Glen Rose, more than 1,000 animals representing 50 species roam freely across some 1,700 acres. We’re talking giraffes, gazelles, cheetahs, wildebeests, antelope—even zebras and rhinos.
Take a guided tour or go a scenic drive on your own (windows up, please).
For a true safari experience, stay overnight in a tented cabin at the Foothills Safari Camp overlooking one of Fossil Rim’s most popular wildlife watering holes.
The only tropical rain forest in the U.S., the 28,000-acre El Yunque National Forest is just about 30 minutes outside of San Juan on the slopes of the Sierra de Luquillo mountains.
Hike through the wilderness to see giant tree ferns, coqui frogs, tropical birds like the Mangrove cuckoo and greenbreasted mango hummingbird (above), and the awe-inspiring La Mina Falls. Yunque’s Dwarf Forest is also home to unique flora and fauna.