Pike Place Market. Photo © Dreamstime.

A Seattle Weekend Itinerary

A weekend in Seattle gives you enough time to sample the best of a city full of achievements with a healthy attitude about fun and leisure; in this town, all work and no play is no one’s motto. With that in mind, here’s a two-day fully-catered itinerary. Get playing.

A green lizard suns itself on a log in Parque Nacional El Imposible, El Salvador.

Hiking Parque Nacional El Imposible, El Salvador

Just southwest of Ruta de Las Flores is El Salvador’s largest national park, Parque Nacional El Imposible. The park is a haven for hikers and nature lovers, offering pristine rivers, archaeological sites, well-maintained campsites, and challenging terrain.

View of Managua from La Loma de Tiscapa. Photo © Elizabeth Perkins.

Managua’s Revolutionary Driving Tour

Historical trivia buffs, take note! A lot of Managua’s most historically salient points are close to invisible, in stark contrast to the role they played in the lead-up to the 1979 revolution. If you have a rainy afternoon in Managua, hop in a taxi and revisit history on this 30-minute driving tour.

Mouth of Las Cavernas del Rio Camuy. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Exploring Las Cavernas del Río Camuy

Puerto Rico is home to one of the largest underground river-cave systems in the world, and the easiest way to explore the island’s subterranean world is at Las Cavernas del Río Camuy. The park is a well-maintained, tightly run ship, and it’s a good thing; this place draws major crowds.

Temple I at sunrise. Photo © Al Argueta.

Explore the Ruins of Tikal

There is plenty to explore in this vast Mayan city that once harbored thousands of people, and you could easily spend several days here taking it all in. The ruins in evidence today are representative of the latter years of Tikal’s existence, as the Maya built on top of existing temples and palaces.

Lake Shasta. Photo © Maislam/Dreamstime.

What to See at Shasta Lake

Shasta Lake doesn’t look like most lakes. Rather than a bowl shape, the lake is fed by three major rivers; to create this sprawling artificial lake, five towns were drowned. The remains are still down there, most sunk so deep that even scuba divers cannot explore them. A tour of the amazing Lake Shasta Caverns is a welcome respite from summer heat, and even if you’re not fascinated by engineering statistics and superlatives, a tour of the Shasta Dam is a great experience.

Paradise Cave is one of the few sights in the park that can be visited independently. Photo © Dana Filek-Gibson.

The Caves of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park

A labyrinth of subterranean tunnels and jaw-dropping, otherworldly landscapes, Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park may be off the beaten path for now, but its anonymity is fading fast. Decked out in eerie, alien rock formations and spindly stalactites, these tunnels are estimated at around 3-5 million years old. Here you’ll find the world’s largest cave, home to a thunderous river, clouds, and an entire jungle ecosystem.

The Imperial City Gate. Photo © Dana Filek-Gibson.

The Imperial City in Hue, Vietnam

From the early 19th century through the end of the Vietnamese monarchy in 1945, Hue’s Imperial City housed an impressive cache of temples, palaces, and administrative buildings. Of the 148 buildings in the walled Citadel complex, today 20 remain. Wide, opulent palaces and dimly lit temples pepper the now-overgrown grounds, boasting a mix of traditional Vietnamese architecture, vibrant lacquered woodwork, and ornate rooftops, not to mention 143 years’ worth of imperial history.

Visitors gaze at a tumbling waterfall from an observation platform.

La Paz Waterfall Gardens, Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s splendid nature and wildlife park La Paz Waterfall Gardens at Montaña Azul features trails through a soaring hangar-size aviary with a separate climate-controlled butterfly cage. There’s also a hummingbird garden, a serpentarium (snakes), a walk-through ranarium (frogs), a monkey exhibit, plus a trout lake and orchid houses.

Stairs leading to an old building near Perfume Pagoda. Photo © Tuomas Lehtinen/123rf.

Day Trips From Hanoi

Beyond the city limits, Hanoi’s suburbs and surrounding countryside offer a few easygoing day trips. Take a jaunt to the booming traditional handicraft villages of Tam Coc and Hoa Lu, Ninh Binh’s main attractions, and visit the serene pagoda complex of the beautifully austere Perfume Pagoda.