Trinidad Memorial Lighthouse. Photo © Jbatt/Dreamstime.

Where to Go in Northern California

If you can’t decide between the beach or the mountains, city nightlife or quaint historical towns, and sleeping in luxury or roughing it, then Northern California is your ultimate destination. Here you’ll find a breakdown of each distinct region in the area, highlighting their major draws and general personalities.

The carved and painted front of San Andrés Xecul's Technicolor church.

The Many Sights Near Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

The towns and villages surrounding Quetzaltenango make for some interesting day trips. Found nearby are the Santa María and Santiaguito Volcanoes, hot springs, Indian markets, colorful churches, and an exquisite crater lake.

The canal in Dewey, Culebra. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Discover Culebra

As laid-back as Vieques is, it’s practically Las Vegas compared to Culebra. Culebra has yet to be discovered by the tourism industry, but experienced divers know it as one of the best diving spots in the Caribbean. Home to 1,568 acres of land preserved as a National Wildlife Refuge and one of the last vestiges of pre-tourism Puerto Rico, visitors are advised to embrace the island’s quirky inconveniences and sleepy pace of life to fully appreciate its many rare charms.

Arecibo Observatory. Photo © Frank Van Den Eijnden/123rf.

Sights in Arecibo, Puerto Rico

There are several good reasons to visit the municipality of Arecibo. In the mountainous karst country south of town is the world-famous Observatorio de Arecibo. On the coast is Cueva del Indio, a geographic wonder that illustrates what happens when crashing waves meet massive petrified sand dunes—it’s also a natural repository for petroglyphs. And for children, there’s the Faro de Arecibo Lighthouse and Historical Park with its themed playgrounds and welcoming patch of beach.

A painted lion statue in the Plaza de Leon. Photo © Micah Craig, licensed Creative Commons usage.

Ponce’s Plaza de las Delicias

Ponce’s Plaza de las Delicias is a bustling Spanish colonial plaza surrounded by many lovely 19th-century buildings. Filled with vendors of all kinds by day and music every evening, here’s what to see and do in this beautiful gathering spot.

An intact stone arch that once served as the entrance to the Maya city.

Maya Archeaological Sites on Isla Cozumel

Isla Cozumel played a deeply significant role in the Maya world. The island’s primary site—known as San Gervasio today—was dedicated to Ixchel, the Maya goddess of fertility, the moon, childbirth, medicine, and weaving. Read on to discover more about archaeological sites on the island.

Puerto Ferro Berdiales Lighthouse Ruins Archeological Site. Photo © Michael Hopkins/123rf.

Sights on Vieques, Puerto Rico

From the overgrown ruins of a sugar mill to a restored 19th century Spanish fort to an incredible bioluminescent bay, there’s plenty to see on Vieques–and most you can do for free. Here are the most interesting sights to see, along with the island’s best beaches for a break between all the activity.

Playa Sardinera in Hatillo. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Planning Your Time on Puerto Rico’s North Coast

The north coast of Puerto Rico is a wild expanse of rocky coastline and gorgeous ocean views, hilly karst country, and green farmland. It’s also thick with industrial plants, shopping centers, fast-food restaurants, road construction, and traffic. Despite the urban sprawl, though, the north coast has a lot going for it.

Plaza de Recreo Cristóbal Colón, Guayama's central plaza. Photo © Suzanne Van Atten.

Sights in Guayama, Puerto Rico

Guayama features a lovely central plaza distinguished by rows of unique umbrella-shaped trees and examples of some truly beautiful architecture. Time your visit for one of the town’s yearly festivals and events or simply stop by any time to see these incredible architectural designs and tour the museums.

Iglesia San Francisco in Old Town Quito. Photo © Paul Prescott/123rf.

Sights in Quito’s Old Town

Quito’s Old Town is what makes the city famous, containing a huge number of colonial churches and religious buildings set around elegant plazas. Old Town is cleaner, safer, and a joy to wander around following a recent multimillion-dollar regeneration. While there are excellent guided maps and multilingual tours to be had, independent travelers will find exploring easy with expert author Ben Westwood’s account of the area.