Royal Romps on the Thames

Despite its size, London is a very kid-friendly city. Here are three engaging places where families can learn hands-on history with a royal twist in the English capital.

Rapids, whirlpools, and risky currents transform some of America’s national park rivers into raging infernos and white water. Rafts and kayaks are the best ways to experience the big thrills and spills. Here are six parks that double as white-water wonderlands.

It’s difficult to be entirely dispassionate about something that has been in my family for centuries. So, full disclosure: ​Throughout the do-we-go, do-we-stay debate on Scottish independence, I’ve been on the side of staying the course with the U.K. and I am relieved that Scottish pride and the knee-jerk, up-yours attitude that once resulted in moors sodden with ill-spent blood spilled by the English gave way to what the Scottish are born to—a calculating practicality that eventually wins the day.

The taxi driver hoisted my suitcase on his shoulder, stepped gingerly around the puddles and slopped through the mud on the earthen path to my homestay family’s stilt house. He had just driven me three and a half hours north of Siem Reap, into the bucolic rice-fields-and-palm-trees wilds of northern Cambodia, a half hour from the Thai border.

Rabat native Yasmine El Baggari has always been a dreamer. Her desire to discover the great unknown led her to America in 2010, and from there her dreams kept getting bigger. First, she set out to visit all 50 states (she’s covered more than two thirds so far). Now she’s on a 15-country journey around the globe to continue her quest to break down cultural barriers and stereotypes through travel. But no matter where Yasmine is, her hometown pride comes with her. Here are her favorite things about Morocco’s capital city.

Early seafarers inspire an epic adventure along Portugal’s endless coastal playground.

Crowned with a sky so wide that it threatens to define infinity, the Big Bend region of West Texas remains one of the last true frontiers in the Lower 48, a landscape unique in the world. Keene Haywood has been a frequent visitor to Big Bend National Park for the past 20 years, having formerly worked for The Nature Conservancy in the nearby Davis Mountain Preserve. Here’s his insider guide to this geological wonder.

On the lookout for a great escape? There’s nothing quite like an island to transport you to an alternate reality—one where days seem to stretch on forever and troubles fall away like an ebbing tide. Here are a few of the @NatGeoTravel team’s favorite islands to get you in that dreaming mood.

If Puerto Rico isn’t on your radar, it’s time to readjust. The Caribbean’s most convenient destination—especially for Americans, who don’t need a passport to get there—is also one of its most interesting, offering travelers untouched rain forest, colonial architecture, and palm-lined beaches. For a weekend or a week-long getaway, “la isla del enchanto,” as it’s affectionately called by locals, is quickly becoming a go-to destination.

American artist and writer Evin O’Keeffe grew up near Washington, D.C., and got bitten by the travel bug early. But after seeing the world, she decided to plant her roots in Cork City, where she has lived for the past six years—now with her husband and son. Here are a few of Evin’s favorite things about the seaside city she calls home.

We are about five miles off the mainland of northern Ontario, camping on the rocky, forested islets that make up the Slate Islands archipelago on Lake Superior. Currently one of Ontario’s unmanaged provincial parks, there’s very little infrastructure on the islands other than remnants of mining and fishing activities, an old lighthouse, and a herd of endangered woodland caribou.

If you’re looking for an excuse to have a celebration when traveling through certain countries in Europe, make sure to time your visit with your name day.

The anything-goes Dutch capital has a healthy hold on heritage. Take a look at Amsterdam through author Russell Shorto’s eyes.

A flashpoint of both progress and pain during the Civil Rights era, Birmingham has refashioned itself into a place both livable and relevant, part of the national conversation in unexpected ways. Like everywhere in America’s Sun Belt, the Alabama city seems to have a chain restaurant on every corner. But if you know where to look, you can eat wonderfully well and find meals that help tell the tale of the city over the past decades.

Portugal is made for wanderers. From the top of the Moorish remnants of Castelo de São Jorge, Lisbon cascades downhill in all directions, new paths beckoning at every turn. Surf camps dot the 215-mile stretch south of the storied capital city. Part of the region known as the Alentejo, this shore is far quieter than the Algarve beaches at the country’s southern edge.

Irena Schlosserová is a Prague local, through and through (she’s only spent nine months outside of her beloved Czech capital). While she admits that there are many tourist traps in Prague, she urges visitors to get off the beaten path and into the real heart of the City of a Hundred Spires. Read on to be off to a good start.

For Nat Geo Travel Books Senior Editor Barbara A. Noe, going on a run is the best way to get oriented in a new city, and a great way to take in the sights. So lace up your sneaks and read on to get Barbara’s tips on where to run in some of the world’s greatest places—and what to see along the way.

In the 2,000 years since Caesar Augustus laid one of Ljubljana’s first stones, then for a settlement called Emona, this city has often hidden in plain sight. No longer: As Slovenia’s capital cheers its bimillenary throughout 2014, it’s putting its treasures on parade.

Washington, D.C.’s National Gallery of Art is an awesome trove, but approaching it requires planning. Most of the gallery’s art is not on display at any one time, of course, but some spectacular pieces always are, and they provide the best starting point. Here are ten must-see works recommended by curator Eric Denker.

Despite its size, London is a very kid-friendly city. Almost 40 percent of the capital is dedicated to parks and public spaces, and major museums are free. The only problem is there’s so much to see. Here are some of the highlights.

Not to knock Dubrovnik, with its marble streets, 16th-century city walls, sparkling red roof tiles, and primo location—it more than earns its moniker of “Pearl of the Adriatic,” not to mention its UNESCO World Heritage status. But if you cross Croatia off your list after you’ve seen Dubrovnik, you’re missing out on a lot. Here…

After a thoroughly East Coast childhood, Avery Stonich traded Boston for Boulder in 1988. Once she experienced the city locals lovingly refer to as the “People’s Republic of Boulder,” she never looked back. This outdoor enthusiast and freelance adventure and travel writer has more than 40 countries under her belt, but still thinks Boulder is among the greatest places on Earth. Here are a few of her favorite things about her hometown of choice.

“Every traveler has a special place, a home away from home,” says National Geographic Traveler editor at large Daisann McLane. “Old Bangkok is mine.” Here’s her insider’s guide to preparing for your trip and what you should do and see once you’re on the ground to experience the rich culture of everyday Thai life.

The plains? Hardly. A solo drive through the Dakotas proves big on personality.

There’s a reason that the Wright brothers picked the Outer Banks to take their first flight: reliable breezes, wide open, non-vegetated spaces, and 100-foot dunes—the tallest on the Atlantic coast—where even novices can fly safely before alighting in soft sand. Your first flight in a hang glider “might just change your life,” says Andy Torrington, who has been teaching the sport near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, since 1991.