Visitors approach the Avenue of Flags at Mount Rushmore National Monument.

Planning a Visit to Mount Rushmore and the Central Hills

Mount Rushmore and the small cities and tourist industries that grew up around it are filled with sights and activities to delight just about every kind of traveler. It is possible to spend as little as a day here, or a full two weeks and more. Here’s how to plan your time exploring the region.

On the shore of Ko Pha-Ngan, Thailand.

Ko Samui and Ko Pha-Ngan Travel Planning

Tips and advice on planning your time in Ko Samui and nearby Ko Pha-Ngan; Ko Samui is a popular Thailand vacation spot, an excellent budget destination with a growing five-star scene, while Ko Pha-Ngan remains a backpacker haven.

Aerial view of Phuket Town. Photo © Sunanta Boonkamonsawat/123rf.

Discover Phuket

It’s no wonder millions of people visit Phuket each year. The landscape, with its hilly, green, forested interior and clean, sandy beaches, is awe-inspiring. The vibes of the beaches and their surrounding areas vary from spring break fun to secluded romantic getaway to family-friendly. The accommodations range from unbelievably cheap to unbelievably luxurious. The tourism infrastructure is solid, and anything you want—perhaps a spur-of-the-moment diving trip, a midday massage on the beach, or a bespoke suit made in 24 hours—is available with no hassle.

One of the many islets that make up the Solentiname archipelago. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

The Solentiname Archipelago and the Río San Juan

The Río San Juan carries the waters of Lake Cocibolca to the Caribbean through a lush landscape of extensive nature reserves and broad cattle ranches. The biggest town in the area, San Carlos, has transformed from edgy port town to quaint destination, while offshore, the Solentiname Archipelago is a quiet group of islets of striking natural beauty. This region isn’t part of the casual traveler’s itinerary, but if you can invest a little more time than usual, the dramatic landscapes and remoteness will impress you.

Downtown Moab, Utah. Photo © WC McRae.

Planning Your Time in Moab

By far the largest town in southeastern Utah, Moab makes an excellent base for exploring Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and the surrounding canyon country. How you get around ranges from biking to horseback riding to 4WD jeep exploring to hot-air ballooning. This is also the most hospitable town in this part of Utah, so don’t blow right through. Take time to stop and enjoy its quirky charms.

Two of Iceland's natural wonders–the midnight sun and waterfalls. Photo © Phyletto/Dreamstime.

Discover Iceland

Scale the heights of soaring mountaintops. Dive into some of the clearest water in the world. Hike the rim of a remote volcano that rises from an Arctic desert. Witness a rainbow materialize over a thundering waterfall. Iceland is a place not just to see, but to experience.

View of the city of Matagapa. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

Planning Your Time in Nicaragua’s Highlands

East of the Pan-American Highway is a rugged region of blue-green hillsides, thickly forested mountains, and small farming villages of adobe homes and clay-tile roofs. Unlike anywhere else in the country, these are Nicaragua’s Highlands. Draped over the curves of rolling hills, Matagalpa is the more elegant of the region’s two big cities, while Jinotega remains a cowboy town and feels like the end of the road.

A sulphur lake lies in the crater of a Tecapa Volcano near Alegria, El Salvador. Photo © lanabyko/123rf.

Planning Your Time in Northern and Eastern El Salvador

Northern and eastern El Salvador remain largely untrodden, especially the eastern parts of the country, where heavy fighting took place during the civil war. These remote areas may take a little more effort to get to, but they are the gateway to authentic Salvadoran culture, uncorrupted by tourism and relatively unfazed by American influence.

A monkey in a tree on Monkey Island. Photo © Paul Schlindwein/123rf.

The Natural Beauty of Nicaragua’s Las Isletas

The 365-island archipelago of Nicaragua formed when Volcán Mombacho erupted some 20,000 years ago, hurling its top half into the nearby lake in giant masses of rock, ash, and lava. The natural beauty of the isletas is spectacular there is plenty for history buffs to enjoy as well. The islanders themselves are interesting and friendly, maintaining a rural lifestyle unique in Nicaragua: Children paddle dugout canoes or rowboats to school from an early age, and their parents get along by fishing and farming or by taking camera-toting tourists for a ride in their boats.