10 Sightings of Rare Animals That Won the Internet This Year

It’s been a year of wild surprises.

Animal encounters are a permanent fixture on our social media feeds, but can you imagine spotting a huge alligator on a golf course, or finding a green puppy in your litter, or holding a yellow turtle? This year may have been full of ennui, but these pictures of bold and beautiful animals around the world inspired awe and bewilderment. It goes to show that even after all that we know about the wild world, it is still capable of amazing us daily.

What to Get Well-Traveled Teens This Holiday Season

Buying for the pickiest-shopper just got easier.

We take holiday shopping for children for granted—give them a toy from their list and they’ll be pleased and polite. It’s only once they reach the teen years that you realize just how easy you had it. No longer are long lists being created and no longer will a smile always be feigned. Rather, someone’s (the teen’s) parents will ask someone (you) if they’ve still held onto the gift receipt. While you might not understand TikTok or be a K-pop stan, you do know the importance of giving a good gift, and that’s where we come in. We’ve picked out the perfect gifts for the well-traveled teens in your life—we’re expecting fewer gift receipt requests and more, “Aunt Lisa, how did you know?!”

Where Can You Travel? What’s Open? What’s Closed? Here’s the Current Status for All 50 States

The states are starting to reopen. But is it wise to venture out?

[Editor’s note: This is an updated version of an article that originally ran on May 19.] Disclaimer: This is meant to be a general overview of how each state is reopening. It is not intended to provide every last detail regarding guidelines and restrictions; please refer to the government website of each state for specifics. In addition, please remember that even if a state has been given the green light for a category of businesses to reopen, individual businesses may choose to remain closed. As such, please be sure to contact each business or site before visiting to ensure that it is open. As the United States begins to relax its shelter-in-place orders and some emerge from their homes, many are counting the days when we can get back out there and travel, even if it’s by car to a neighboring community or state. But as we know, a very different landscape awaits out there than the one we left earlier this winter at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. There are things travelers must consider that we never did before, including social distancing and personal sanitization. The big question is: Is it safe to travel in the United States? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is pretty clear in its stance. It’s recommended that you stay home as much as possible, especially if your trip is not essential. Social distancing still needs to be practiced, especially if you are in a higher risk category or an older adult. You shouldn’t travel if you feel sick, or travel with someone who is sick. And you need to protect yourself and others by knowing how to prevent the virus from spreading.  Perhaps the most hopeful advice comes from Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. According to him, summer travel “can be in the cards.” He urges caution, since we risk COVID-19 spreading rapidly if proper precautions are not taken. “When infections start to rear their heads again,” he says, “we have to put in place a very aggressive and effective way to identify, isolate, contact trace, and make sure we don’t have those spikes we have now.” As long as we’re aware that “getting back to normal is not like a light switch that you turn on and off,” he says, we should be able to get back to some sort of normalcy. So the answer is: We’re not quite there yet. The best thing to do is pay attention to the several-phase reopening plans that each state has developed, outlining when hotels, restaurants, retail businesses, outdoor areas, etc., should be open for business and what precautions they must take. Some states are freer than others—and that’s something to consider. Do you really want to be on a beach where social distancing guidelines aren’t being maintained? It’s a whole new world that we’ll be navigating, literally. The guidelines are fast-changing and it’s hard to keep up, but here’s where they stand today, state by state.                  

Despite COVID and Hurricanes, New Orleans’ Courtyards Still Shine

“Don’t you just love those long afternoons in New Orleans,” Tennessee Williams wrote in A Streetcar Named Desire, “when an hour isn’t just an hour–but a little piece of eternity dropped into your hands—and who knows what to do with it?”

The pandemic certainly dealt a blow to the famed Crescent City, where the Covid-19 rates in March were among the highest in the world. The mayor and governor, alongside the citizens, worked tirelessly to mask-up and partially lockdown. Rates fell, but then a staggering eight major storms, including six hurricanes, arrived in early fall. Despite it all, New Orleans has come out on top, and she’s now a fine destination for responsible travelers. The city, as always, is a dream of dripping bougainvillea, soft notes on a trumpet, and the sound of ice clinking in a glass. There’s gumbo on the stove, jugglers in Jackson Square, and streetcars clanging up the avenues. The best place to experience New Orleans is in one of her famed courtyards. It’s in these enclaves, both large and small, scented with flowering jasmine or dazzling with marquee bulbs, that the city worms her way into your soul. They are settings both timeless and festively new, filled with seersucker suits, intoxicating gossip, historic architecture, and ice-cold absinthe, like always.

How 10 Different Places Do Hot Chocolate

Send your chocolate cravings on a trip around the world.

Is there a better feeling than wrapping yourself up in a cardigan and sipping a cup of hot cocoa on a chilly evening? But before you reach for that packet of Swiss Miss, why not kick things up a notch and take yourself on a chocolatey tour around the world? These 10 ways to do hot chocolate will be a trip for your taste buds and a fun way to discover a new place without having to walk away from your own stovetop.

A Gift Idea for Every Type of Traveler This Holiday Season

From the grandma that misses Disney to the dad who just bought a caravan.

The holiday season is here, but we know you probably have other things on your mind. While you might usually put serious time and thought into picking out the perfect gifts for your loved ones, this year is just different—I mean, what do you buy for relatives when there’s nowhere to go and no shops to browse for inspiration? To help you along the way, we found the perfect gift for every type of traveler in your life. And, don’t worry, you can take all the credit for it.

How to Support Your Favorite Museums This Holiday Season

TLDR: Shopping!

We’re all looking for the perfect thing to gift loved ones this holiday season, so why not look toward the places they consider a second home? For friends and relatives who’ve had to put a pause on their favorite weekend activity, whether that be exploring ancient art in their city’s best gallery or blasting off into space at the planetarium, we found ways to hold them over—and help out their favorite place! This holiday season, feel free to kill two birds with one stone with a quick trip down museum gift-shop lane and on toward membership registration. You’ll get a gift your loved ones will cherish, and you’ll be actively ensuring that museum is there for them to keep enjoying post-pandemic—do good and gift good.

12 Quirky Winter Traditions From Around the Globe

'Tis the season for "babies napping outside!"

With the long nights of winter approaching, a little inspiration can go a long way toward brightening our days. Thankfully, countries across the globe have come up with plenty of fun, intriguing, and unique ways of celebrating the season’s dog days that are not only inspiring, but also downright delightful. Many of them are centuries-old festivities while others are relatively new, yet all of them provide a bit of possibility and, at times, a touch of laughter in a year where those things are exceedingly hard to come by. From Lithuania to Taiwan, don’t miss these 12 favorite, quirky winter traditions.