A modern man should be like LeBron James in a game the refs are trying to keep close: well-traveled. Traveling expands horizons and demonstrates a curiosity with the world around you—it shows that you’re not just content with whatever restaurants, cultural institutions and people are in your hometown. It suggests that you want to explore the world, experience unfamiliar things, and learn what a Big Mac is called in Japan.
Your list of destinations should be as diversified as your financial portfolio, but there are certain places that every well-traveled man should have been expected to visit by the time he reaches 40. So leave Florida, Branson, and Missouri for retirement—here’s a list of places where you should have already touched down. And if you’re trying to plan a quick getaway before completing this list, check out the 10 Best Weekend Escapes Right Now.
The town’s famous Strip is one of the most visited places in the world, and there’s no better place on earth to stroll, take in the bright lights, and have middle-aged Latina women hand you weird prostitution fliers. Vegas is a place you should eventually outgrow, meaning it should already be checked off your list. And if you’re more of a camping-under-the-stars guy, we got you covered with these 10 Cool Options That Beat A Hotel Room Any Day.
Louis’ Lunch, Connecticut
Is there a more manly food than the hamburger? Credited with serving the very first hamburger ever, check out where it all began at Louis’ Lunch, a 122-year-old establishment in New Haven, Connecticut. If you’re all about the burgers and liked this recommendation, make sure to check The Ultimate Vacation Getaways for Foodies.
The fact that The King Elvis Presley died on one of those toilets only adds to the kitschy magic that is Graceland in Memphis, TX.
Despite the fact that the French may not want you there, few men could make it to age 40 without having visited Paris. It’s romantic, dripping with history and having visited it adds a certain je ne sais quois is to a man’s appeal. Paris screams romance. If love’s been in the air but you don’t know how to make it official, get creative with these Proposal Ideas.
New York City
Haven’t been to the Big Apple? You may as well admit to not owning a passport or having watched HBO’s The Wire.
The quaint town is among the most beautiful places in the world and one of those destinations that’s obscure enough to impress your co-workers—but not obscure enough to land in a dark prison while there. Bonus points: Game of Thrones is filmed there.
The sparsely populated island is struggling to deal with the massive influx of tourists that have descended in recent years. And if you haven’t already visited this northern European gem with its spectacular scenery, you may have missed your window. Here’s hoping you were among the first wave and can now smugly tell friends: “Iceland? I was there in ’08.”
Machu Picchu, Peru
For those who’ve only visited one place in South America, this is probably it. The 15th-century Inca ruins sit atop a mountain nearly 8,000 feet above sea level, which is quite a climb especially in air thinner than a runway model. If you haven’t done it already, your twilight years are probably not the best time.
Prague, Czech Republic
It’s eastern Europe without all the horrible gray architecture and boiled food. Probably best experienced as a backpacker.
Great Barrier Reef, Australia
The Natural Wonder of the World in Australia offers adventure in several forms, including diving and snorkeling. Not to be alarmist, but here’s hoping you’ve already been there—rising sea temperatures are threatening to wipe out huge portions of it.
Jungles, beaches, volcanos and sulphuric hot springs that will make your bathing suit smell like rotten eggs forever. Costa Rica has it all, and is the world’s 34th safest country, according to the Global Peace Index.
In the old days you would have gone for the scenery and the ancient culture. Today, you might go simply to post a Facebook photo beside one of the giant heads. Whatever.
The Central American paradise is a hidden gem and also home to the Great Blue Hole, one of the planet’s most mysterious places—the underwater cave is approximately 407 feet deep.
Even the desert festival’s founder has admitted that it’s jumped the shark. The influx of wealthy tech bros, the increasing ubiquity of luxury cabanas and the recent addition of—God help us—cell phone service has moved the week-long party far away from its hippie, DIY origins, and it’s now a very difference experience. What’s more, it’s just plain undignified to be there after a certain age.
Glacier National Park, Montana
It’s known as “The Crown of the Continent,” and this Montana park is definitely king when it comes to storybook vistas.
The Tuscan city is stuffed with so much great art and architecture, it’s probably more of a must-see Italian destination than even Rome. Need a reward for all that culture? It’s also home to some of the best gelato in the world.
This massive gouge in the Arizona desert is first—if definitely not best—seen from the back of your family’s 1982 station wagon. That circumstance should not diminish its beauty and its place as America’s preeminent natural wonder.
Return to a time when driving was actually fun and didn’t come with a 100 percent chance of congestion and a 20 percent chance of road rage-induced gunfire. Rolling down this famous highway, which stretches from Chicago to Los Angeles, is definitely a trip into the past.
A destination must be pretty special to have tourists dragging themselves out of bed at 4am to see it. That’s the Tsukiji Fish Market, where a rainbow of fresh seafood, including pricey tuna, is sold each morning.
If you’ve ever dreamed of sushi like Jiro, you’ve been here.
Great Wall of China
Ironically, the structure originally built to repel visitors is now attracting some 10 million people a year—security fails but tourism wins.
The city is arguably the most serious luxury shopping destination in the world. The Dubai Mall alone is 440,000 square feet and contains more than 1,200 high-end shops. Here’s hoping you packed some of that oil money.
Hiking the entire thing takes about six months and is so grueling that only about one in four people complete the journey. Leave that stuff for the professionals, but you could have at least explored a part of the trail.
Wildwood, New Jersey
This coastal resort town holds a crucial place in rock and roll history. Once famous for its clubs, Wildwood was where Bill Haley and the Comets first played “Rock Around the Clock” and where Chubby Checker first rolled out “The Twist.” It’s also home to a stretch of well-preserved mid-century motels decorated with plastic palm trees and funky colors. Bada bing!
No one’s quite sure why the ancient stone ring was built, but theories include an astrological calendar, a healing center or—on the complete opposite end—a temple for human sacrifice.
Vieques, Puerto Rico
The waters of Mosquito Bay are filled with organisms called Pyrodinium bahamense that glow blue when stirred. Stick a hand in the water and watch as a cloud of bioluminescent light appears in the water—it’s cool enough to warrant making Puerto Rico the 51st state.
Watching the race is a serious event—especially for those who camp out in the track’s infield guzzling beer and partaking of other activities such as flying a kite to pass the time until the next crash.
Mardi Gras, New Orleans
Congratulations, you’ve been. Now how about getting rid of those beads still hanging on your bedroom mirror.
Clubbing your face off is a young man’s game. Be warned: hopping from party to party all night, perhaps fueled by illicit substances, can literally spell death even for the spry and fit, leading to such “only in Ibiza” tragedies as falling through a skylight or having five bags of Ecstacy explode in your stomach. Fingers crossed you’ve already been to Ibiza.
For many men over 40, Star Wars is like a religion. And its equivalent of Mecca is a trip to the now-abandoned sets in the Tunisian desert now collecting sand.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Brazil has been on the rise for years culminating in its hosting of the 2016 Olympics. Granted, that didn’t quite work out but a city with this much culture, food and personality is still indispensable.
Serengeti National Park, Africa
Serengeti National Park in Tanzania is the place to get in touch with nature and watch the Great Migration, as more than a million creatures, including elephants, zebras and lions, traverse the region. Just beware of angry animals.
Pike Place Market, Seattle
You know those farmer’s markets that have invaded every gentrified urban space in America? Pike Place Market in Seattle is the one that started it all. The massive outdoor emporium sells everything from salmon to fresh produce to bongs—though it’s unclear if those are locally sourced.
The French Laundry, California
Thomas Keller’s California restaurant, opened in 1994, is one of the most celebrated restaurants around. It’s so popular that it recently stopped taking reservations and instead moved to an online system in which diners buy tickets for their meal, like a concert. Currently, a night out there will set you back about as much as seeing U2: $310
Guzzling liters of beer at the annual festival is among the most Instagrammed activities on earth.
It’s also among the most rowdy—so much so that the U.S. consulate in Munich was forced to release a tip sheet that advised revelers to avoid sleeping off your drunk in a public park.
Now that Castro has gone to the great humidor in the sky, Cuba is likely to be heading for big changes in the future.
Here’s hoping you got here back when it was still a little bit forbidden and before KFC drops a restaurant on ever calle.
Were you one of the quarter million visitors who hit the scenic Thai province after the 2000 Leonardo DiCaprio movie The Beach was released? If so, we’d rather not know what you did to celebrate the release of The Revenant.
Hotel de Glace, Canada
Stay in Quebec City’s hotel made entirely out of ice. The walls, the bed—everything—is constructed of blocks of frozen water. We’ll go ahead and say it: cool! And if you’re on top of your game and already been to most of these places, take it to the next level and plan 9 Life-Changing Luxury Adventures You’ll Never Forget.
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