Louisiana, Three Ways: Creole Country

The river town of Natchitoches dates to 1714, when French traders paddling up the Red River from the Mississippi put down roots here, making it the oldest permanent settlement in the entire 828,000-square-mile Louisiana Purchase. It immediately impresses me as a downsized version of New Orleans’ Royal Street, with its filigreed iron balconies, antiques stores, and art galleries.

I was working on an animated film in Los Angeles in 1982 when I was ordered back to Prague by the communist Czech government. I decided not to return even though I knew this meant I might not see my family again. Then, in 1989, the Berlin Wall fell. Now, whenever I visit, I try to swim against time, not to recall the oppressive fortress that used to be Prague but to reconnect with the favorite places of my childhood.

The dramatic geology and wide-open spaces of the American Southwest lend themselves to UFO activity—imaginary or real—making it one of the top spots for sightings. Roswell, New Mexico, may be the most notable name in extraterrestrial lore, but there are plenty of other hot spots in the region that deserve honorable mentions. Here are five.

Nat Geo Young Explorer Hannah Reyes is a photographer and travel enthusiast whose work has taken her to the unlikeliest of places to document threatened indigenous cultures. After growing up in the Philippine capital, Manila, she chose a similarly chaotic city in Cambodia—Phnom Penh—as her new home base. With its rich history and its diverse landscapes, Hannah says, “those who decide to take a close look at this changing place enjoy the reward of discovering its wonderful secrets.” Here are a few of her favorite things about the city she calls home.

Namibia’s desert landscapes present travelers with a symphony of paradox: wide-open spaces and intimate encounters; rugged natural beauty and luxurious accommodations. Here are three base camps that will set the scene for travel transcendence.

There are some amazing events on tap all over the world, all the time. Here’s a taste of what you can see and do in November.

Colombia’s vibrant capital emerges from a sketchy past to paint a bold new future.

Louisiana, Three Ways: NOLA

Homegrown, unique, and thoroughly wonderful, Louisiana has a character all its own. “[It] is another country,” local historian Charles Chamberlain says. “But you better see it soon; who knows how long it’s going to last.” By the time Thomas Jefferson bought the land from Napoleon in that 1803 geopolitical fire sale, he explains, this French colony was well populated with French and Spanish immigrants, refugees from Haiti, and Congolese slaves, all of whom had seeded the land with their cultures, foods, and traditions. Here’s a look at New Orleans.

The Guadalupe Mountains of West Texas were once a reef growing beneath the waters of an ancient inland sea. That same vanished sea spawned the honeycomb of the Carlsbad Caverns, just 40 miles north in New Mexico. Here is Keene Haywood’s insider’s guide to this natural wonder.

Vengeful gods, terrifying sorcerers, and death-dealing demons populate the legends and beliefs of the Caribbean, which derive from a potent blend of voodoo, Catholicism, and folklore.

Among leaf scenes, New York’s is one of the best—especially upstate in the glacier-carved region known as the Finger Lakes. Here’s the scoop on visiting the region and soaking up the autumn color show.

In the 1950s, Peru’s Cabo Blanco Fishing Club was a famous rod-and-reel outpost—the world record black marlin, weighing 1,560 pounds, was caught here. Ernest Hemingway visited, along with other celebs. Now the classic coastal village and some 2,500 square miles of ocean around it could become part of a new ecotourism project—or be turned over to more oil drilling platforms.

A bodhrán player (and also a maker of the traditional drums), set dancer (a type of Irish folk dance), and bog oak sculptor, Belfast native Eamon Maguire is well versed in Irish culture. He also helps pass on these traditions as an instructor at An Droichead, an Irish language and arts school in the city. Here are a few of Eamon’s favorite things about the capital and creative hub of Northern Ireland.

Blue skies prevail in Qingdao, a seaside metropolis that keeps topping livability lists in China with its inviting boardwalks, shaded streets and parks, and German colonial architecture.

On a family road trip through British Columbia this summer, I had no regrets about seeing it with the whole brood first, but I also made notes about how my husband and I will do it again when we come back one day, sans kids. Here’s B.C. two ways, so you can choose your own adventure.

Meiringen is the ultimate pilgrimage site for Sherlock fans. Literally. In the story “The Final Problem,” Sherlock (along with his nemesis, Professor Moriarty) plunged to his death at Reichenbach Falls just outside the Swiss town.

Maranta Vego is a Sarajevo local through and through. After spending a few years in Croatia, the avid couch surfer knew it was time to return to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s beloved capital city. Now Maranta enjoys sharing her hometown pride on Spotted by Locals: Sarajevo, encouraging travelers to look past her city’s war-torn past to see its shine. Here are a few of Maranta’s favorite things about this Balkan beauty.

Few places meant more to the Welsh poet than Swansea, on Wales’s southwest coast. “This sea-town was my world,” he wrote of the “ugly lovely” place where he grew up and wrote the majority of his life’s work.

The Icon: Egypt’s Great Sphinx

The crouching lion with a man’s head was ancient when Cleopatra gazed upon it in 47 B.C. It retains its allure to the powerful, as world leaders from Napoleon to Barack Obama have trekked to Giza to contemplate the same view that captivated the queen of the Nile.

In the bedroom community of New Canaan, Connecticut, Philip Johnson’s landmark Glass House disappears and then rises from fog.

National Geographic Traveler Executive Editor Norie Quintos just got back from cycling the length of Scotland’s Outer Hebrides islands over four days on a small-group bicycle tour—and posting photos to Instagram along the way. Here are some of the highlights from her trip.

Jeff Ohlfs began his love affair with Joshua Tree National Park a quarter of a century ago. The chief ranger of the park, Ohlfs has seen more of Joshua Tree than any other person posted there. “I remember believing I could never work in a desert park,” says the national park service veteran. “Now, two decades later, I cannot pull myself away from it. For me, it is home.” Here’s his insider’s guide to one of the premier jewels of the Southern California desert.

Magnificent Bonaire stands firmly on a pinnacle, reigning supreme over all other shore diving destinations in the world. With a decidedly rugged character, this charming Dutch island in the southern Caribbean skips chain hotels and instead woos dedicated divers with easy access to underwater wonder.

Finally, the tide has turned for the Canal Saint-Martin district, and its rough edges have been smoothed out for picnics and promenades. “Like Shoreditch in London, or Williamsburg in New York, it’s where the new things are being created in Paris,” says business owner Mickael Benichou.

Jackie DesForges is among a rare breed of individuals who were actually born and raised in Los Angeles. Various jobs in the travel industry have taken her to Chicago, Ireland, Israel, and, most recently, to New York City, where she works as a social media manager for Rail Europe. But there’s only one city Jackie will ever call home. Here are a few of her favorite things about L.A.