Home to some of the country’s most iconic tourist attractions, one can experience a bit of everything in the state of Maharashtra. Summer is the perfect time for exploring different places and spending your holidays in Maharashtra will turn out to be extraordinary for sure! A handy guide for your enticing trip is a must when you are visiting an unknown place. Here is a perfect guide for you which has all the details about your vacay. From soft-sand beaches to lush green mountains and cosmopolitan cities, these 10 places to visit in Maharashtra in summer that are mentioned in the guide are totally high on fun, adventure, surprises, and good vibes.
1. Malvan – Famous Fishing Ports
Painting a beautiful canvas for you with its stunning beaches, sprawling backwater and ancient forts in the backdrop, Malvan is indeed one of the best places to visit in summer in Maharashtra. Renowned to be the most famous fishing ports in the state, Malvan is one of the places to visit in March in Maharashtra to enjoy some privacy, great sunsets, and adventurous watersports.
Best Time To Visit: End of October to mid-May
Major Attractions: Tarkarli Beach, Malvan Beach, Nivti Beach, Rock Garden, Devbagh Beach, Sindhudurg Fort, Malvan Marine Sanctuary, and more.
Things To Do: Boating in Karli backwaters, scuba diving and dolphin safari in Tsunami island, snorkeling in Tarkarli, and more.
How To Reach: Malvan is located at a distance of about 35 kilometers from Kasal. The destination can be best reached from Pune via Kolhapur through NH 17.
2. Amboli – For The Nature Lovers
Located at an altitude of 2260 ft., Amboli is one of the must-visit tourist places in Maharashtra in summer. Perched high on the Sahyadri Hills of Western Ghats, Amboli serves as one of the cool places in Maharashtra for all the nature lovers to unwind and rejuvenate.
Best Time To Visit: June to September
Major Attractions: Amboli Falls, Shirgaonkar Point, Madhavgad Fort, Nangarta Falls, and Sunset Point.
Things To Do: Trek the Durg Dhakoba, rock climbing, bird-watching, camping, and more.
How To Reach: Dabolim Airport of Goa is the nearest airport located about 113 kilometers from Amboli. Sawantwadi is the closest railway station located at a distance of 30 kilometers from Amboli.
3. Kashid – Quaint Little Beach Town
A quaint little beach town nestled along the North Konkan region of Maharashtra, Kashid is one of the coolest places to visit in Maharashtra during summer. Famous for its white-sand beaches, clear blue seas, and dense-forested mountains, Kashid is an apt place where all the beach bums should be heading this summer.
Best Time To Visit: March to June
Major Attractions: Kashid Beach, Murud Janjira Fort, Korlai Fort, Revdanda Beach & Fort, and Phansad Bird Sanctuary.
Things To Do: Camping at Kashid beach, trek to Phansad, scuba diving near Murud Janjira, banana boat rides in Kashid, and more.
How To Reach: The nearest airstrip is that of Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport which is about 140 kilometers away. The nearest railway station is that of Roha which is about 122 kilometers away from Kashid.
4. Lonavala – Best Picnic Spot
Lonavala not only serves as the best picnic spot in Maharashtra in summer but is also one of the best picnic spots near Mumbai for all those who want to escape the clutter of city life. Known for its waterfalls and soothing greenery, get to Lonavala for a gala time during your summer vacations. This is one of the best cold places to visit in the summer in Maharashtra.
Best Time To Visit: October to May
Major Attractions: Tiger’s Leap, Lonavala Lake, Rajmachi Wildlife Sanctuary, Koregad Fort, Amrutanjan Point, Bhaja Caves, and more.
Things To Do: Enjoy sightseeing and camping, trekking to Duke’s Nose, trek to Koregad, trek to Rajmachi and Kondane Caves, and more.
How To Reach: Lohegaon Airport is the nearest airport located at a distance of about 71 kilometers from Lonavala. Lonavala is well connected to other cities in India through regular trains.
5. Khandala – Admire The Natural Beauty
Located just 3 kilometers away from the above mentioned Lonavala, Khandala also is a stunner when it comes to places to visit in Maharashtra in May. Enjoying a pleasant climate during the summers, the natural beauty of Khandala makes it one of the best summer vacation places in Maharashtra and it will be worth spending your vacation in this nature’s marvel.
Best Time To Visit: October to May
Major Attractions: Rajmachi Fort, Lohagad Fort, Bedse Caves, Visapur Fort, Kune Waterfalls, Bushi Dam, and Shooting Point.
Things To Do: Enjoy the best of trekking, hiking, caving, and sightseeing in Khandala, paragliding in Kamshet, and more.
How To Reach: Located at a distance of about 66 kilometers, the domestic airport of Pune is the closest airport. The nearest railway station that connects Khandala to other cities is that of the Lonavala railway station.
6. Mahabaleshwar – A Romantic Getaway
Nestled in the Sahyadri Mountain ranges, Mahabaleshwar is yet another place to explore in summers which is also a romantic getaway for all the love birds. Once a summer capital of Bombay, quiet and enchanting places to visit in Mahabaleshwar are nothing less than magic.
Best Time To Visit: March to June
Major Attractions: Mahabaleshwar Temple, Morarji Castle, Vienna Lake, Pratapgad, Mapro Garden, Tapola, Lingamala Falls, Lodwick Point, Elephant’s Head Point and many more.
Things To Do: Watch the magical sunrise at Wilson
Point, mountain biking at Mahabaleshwar hill station, boating from
Tapola to Bamnoli Island, rock climbing, horse riding, trekking &
How To Reach: The nearest airport is that of Pune located just 120 kilometers away. Water is the nearest railway station that is located just 60 kilometers away. Take local buses from Vashi, Dadar East or Sion and reach Mahabaleshwar in just 5 to 6 hours.
7. Alibaug – A Peaceful Town
Get to Alibaug – one of the peaceful places to visit in April in Maharashtra, if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the metro cities in India, especially Mumbai. More of a quiet and peaceful town, Alibaug is home to some of the best beaches that make it one of the best places to visit in Maharashtra in summer.
Best Time To Visit: October to May
Major Attractions: Alibaug Beach, Nagaon Beach, Kolaba Fort, Akshi Beach, Kanakeshwar Forest, Varsoli Beach, Mandwa Beach, and more.
Things To Do: Enjoy camping at Revdanda beach, trek to Sagargad, Jetski, bumpy rides, and banana boat rides at Nagaon, bird watching at Akshi beach, and more.
How To Reach: Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport is the nearest airport to Alibaug which is 140 kilometers away. One can also reach Alibaug in two hours via many local buses that run from Mumbai.
8. Matheran – Smallest Hill Station In India
Despite being the smallest hill station in India, Matheran has a lot to offer when it comes to places to visit in Maharashtra in summer. Located in the Raigad district of Maharashtra, Matheran treats the adventure souls right with its lush green and forested routes that are rich in wildlife and best for trekking and hiking. It is one of the best hill stations in Maharashtra that you ought to visit on your next trip.
Best Time To Visit: November to June
Major Attractions: Panorama Point, Echo Point, One Tree Hill Point, Charlotte Lake, Alexander Point, Prabal Fort, and Honeymoon Hill.
Things To Do: Trek through the Garbett Plateau,
valley crossing from Honeymoon Point to Louisa Point, nature walking,
and local shopping in Matheran, and more.
How To Reach: Take the toy train from Neral and enjoy a zigzag ride through which you can reach Matheran in just two hours. One can also drive to Matheran from Neral and reach within 30 minutes.
9. Panchgani – The Ultimate Summer Resort
Last but not least, Panchgani is renowned as the headquarters for paragliding in the state of Maharashtra. Literally translating into the land of five hills, Panchgani is the ultimate summer resort that is much famed for its scenic beauty and untouched environs. This is surely one of the best places to visit in Maharashtra during summer which will sweep you off your feet.
Best Time To Visit: September to May
Major Attractions: Table Land, Mapro Farms, Sydney
Point, Lingmala Falls, Kate’s Point, Arthur Seat, Dhom Dam, Bhilar
Waterfalls, and Elephant’s Head Point.
Things To Do: Go sightseeing in Panchgani, hiking near the Rajpuri Caves, enjoy trekking and cycling, go shopping for handicrafts, and much more.
How To Reach: One can get to Panchgani by flight via Pune Airport which is located at a distance of 100 kilometers. The nearest railway head is also that of Pune.
10. Ratnagiri – Explore The Fascinating Beaches
Located on the shoreline of the Arabian Sea, Ratnagiri is one of the coolest places to visit in Maharashtra in summer. Being one of the popular Maharashtra destinations to spend a laid-back holiday, one must explore the fascinating beaches in Ratnagiri on their next trip to Maharashtra.
Best Time To Visit: October to April
Major Attractions: Ratnagiri Fort, Bhatye Beach, Thibaw Palace, Bhagwati Mandir, Mandvi Beach, and more
Things To Do: Explore the Ratnadurg Fort, visit Ratnagiri Marine Fish Museum, hike up to Kadelot Point, visit Basni Lake, and more
How To Reach: One can reach Ratnagiri via flights, trains, and by road. While Mumbai happens to be the nearest airstrip and railhead from Ratnagiri, one can also travel to Ratnagiri from Goa which is just 188 km away.
11. Harihareshwar – Soak In Serene Vibes
Known for being a popular beach destination by the locals, this place is nothing less than blessed with the famous temple of Harihareshwar in the vicinity. Not only the majestic four hills protecting the region proudly add more charm to this place’s serene vibes, but it also has river Savitri through the town and dense forests around the beach that make this a perfect holiday spot to unwind. It is one of the best tourist places in Maharashtra.
Best Time To Visit: October to March
Major Attractions: Harihareshwar beach, Kalbhairav temple, and Bagmandala
Things To Do: Go for a beach walk at Diveagar beach or indulge in an extraordinary shopping experience at Harihareshwar vibrant markets
How To Reach: You can take a cab from the nearest airport in Mumbai and the nearest railhead is Mangaon.
12. Malshej Ghat – A True Nature’s Paradise
Nestled beautifully amongst the majestic mountains, serene waterfalls, and numerous enchanting lakes, Malshej Ghat is what you call a true nature’s paradise. Famous amongst the locals for being a perfect weekend getaway from Pune, Mumbai, and Thane, this place is also known for trekking and hiking activities.
Best Time To Visit: July to March
Major Attractions: Pimpalgaon Jogal Dam, and Malshej Falls
Things To Do: Trek around the Harishchandragad Fort,
shop in the streets of Malshej Ghat or simply visit the Ajoba Hill Fort
for a soothing experience
How To Reach: While the nearest airport is Pune, from where you can rent a cab, the closest railway station is Kalyan which is at a mere 85 km away from the town.
13. Toranmal – Lush Landscapes
Toranmal is one of the best places to visit in the summer in Maharashtra. The name of this place has been adapted from the word ‘Tarona’, a goddess worshipped by the tribals of the region. This small hill station is best for nature lovers. There are several beautiful lakes, less-explored caves, and viewpoints in Toranmal.
Best Time To Visit: October to May
Major Attractions: Lotus Lake,
Aawashabari Point, Yashavant Lake, Sita Khai, Khadki Point, and
Machhindranath Cave are some of the popular places to visit in Toranmal.
Things To Do: Trekking, sightseeing, picnic
How To Reach: Nandurbar and Alirajpur are the nearest railway station to Toranmal
14. Jawhar – A Mini Hillstation
what is a tiny hill station located in the Thane district? This is one of the most charming tourist places in Maharashtra in summer for a family or a couple of holidays. Rich with scenic beauty, Jawhar is simply a green paradise. There are spots to watch the stunning sunset, beautiful palaces, and waterfalls. Jai Vilas Palace, an architectural wonder from the past, is one of the major highlights of Jawhar sightseeing.
Best Time To Visit: October to February
Major Attractions: Dabdaba Falls, Jai Vilas Palace, Hanuman Point, Sunset Point, and Shirpamal
Things To Do: Sightseeing, nature walk, sunset watching
How To Reach: Nashik is the nearest railway station from Jawhar
15. Nashik – Temples, Ghats And More
Nashik is an ancient holy town set on the banks of river Godavari. This city is associated with Hindu mythological text, Ramayana. Nashik is home to several temples and shrines and is visited by devotees and travelers from different parts of the country. The temples in the city have traditional and detailed architecture. There are several ghats in the town which makes it one of the best destinations for a summer vacation in Maharashtra.
Best Time To Visit: October to December and February and March
Major Attractions: Ramkund, York Winery, Soma Wine Village, Chandon, Sita Gumpha, and Kala Rama Temple
Things To Do: Go on a wine tour at Sula Vineyards, temple visits, bathing in ghats
How To Reach: Nashik Railway station is well-connected to another part of the country.
The fact that globe-trotting is a way to seek solace and explore the great beyond, travelers tirelessly venture to look for answers with an inquisitive mind. Ultimately, finding India to be a suitable travel destination where you get the taste of everything exquisite – Tradition, Culture, and Food. If you are planning a holiday in India, consider a visit to the youngest state- Telangana. This charming existence is considered to be an interesting destination to visit for it treasures a generous load of vivifying places and attractions. For instance, the majestic Charminar at Hyderabad, the soothing Pakhal Lake at Warangal, the largest dam in southern plains of India- Nagarjuna Sagar Dam and some must-visit pilgrimage places, which happen to be located almost everywhere in the state.
A land that stuns the visitors by its graceful monument- Charminar, Hyderabad is one of the most visited destinations in Telangana. You can actually parade through the many lovely places in Hyderabad and it is for certain, this place has a layout of amazing things to do. For instance, you can go on a food hunt around the city and you would love the experience. Hyderabad is actually famed for its delicious Haleem and Patthar Kebab, and when you enter any restaurant to subside your hunger, these are a must-try dishes.
Amongst the places to visit, Hyderabad has many attractions to cure your wanderlust. One such place that is not to be missed is the Golconda Fort, it is a 13th-century fort and its major highlights are the royal palaces and whispering walls. Other tourist attractions that are a must-visit are Makkah Masjid, Salarjung Museum, Qutb Shahi Tombs, Hussain Sagar Lake, Birla Mandir to name a few. Also, if you are seeking a comfortable place to stay in Hyderabad, there are plenty of hotels perfect for a family holiday as well as for friends traveling together or solo travelers.
How to Reach?
Air: Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (34 km to Hyderabad).
Rail: Secunderabad Junction Railway Station is the closest station.
Road: Hyderabad is conveniently accessible via roadways. Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station is its main station.
Telangana’s other treasured destination that speaks of serenity and history is Warangal. You get a sense of lushness even amid the city and why? Well, Warangal may have forts and temples but it also has soothing attractions. One of the amazing and calming attractions that you can visit here in Warangal is Pakhal Lake. If you need city escapes, a drive up here will revitalize your senses, located amidst beautiful forests, it offers breathtaking views of a calm lake and far-off hills.
Also, another crowd puller in Warangal is the Pakhal Wildlife Sanctuary that sprawls around the Pakhal Lake. Besides, the city has other tourist interest spots as well such as a 12th century-old Thousand Pillar Temple, which is endowed in the Kakatiya style of architecture. However, the city’s top visited place is the Warangal Fort. A 13th-century old ruin which is graced in moss and is surrounded by ancient history and marvelous sculptures.
How to Reach?
Air: Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (174 km to Warangal).
Rail: Kazipet Junction Railway Station is the closest station.
Road: There are direct roadways that connect Hyderabad to Warangal via NH 163.
Medak Fort maybe this city’s star attraction, decorated with various sculptures and Hindu and Islamic architectural style, however, the Cathedral Church is not far behind in the race of becoming a popular place to see. Its gothic look and grey shade may give an eerie feeling but its architectural spectacularity is simply beyond comparison. Another worth visiting place to mark your footprint on is Pocharam Wildlife Sanctuary that houses various flora and fauna. If you enjoy bird watching and are patient enough, you may see birds like a bar-headed goose, painted stork, brahminy duck, and also animals here like Nilgai, forest cat, sloth bear including big cats like a leopard can be spotted.
How to Reach?
Air: Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (105 km to Medak).
Rail: Wadiaram Railway Station (55 km) is near Medak city.
Road: Telangana State Road Transport Corporation services bus regularly via NH 161.
This newly formed district of Sangareddy is a place located near the capital Hyderabad and it is famous for a museum and not just any random attraction but a 1796 A.D built Jail Museum. Spread over 3 acres of land, the museum offers you an insight into the history and the prison life. This is an old district jail consisting of two wings to visit – male and female.
While the male section of the museum consists of nine large buildings, the female section has one. It stores ration rooms, gas room, lockers, kitchen, lunchroom and washing room (for the crockery and cutlery). During your visit to this heritage attraction, you can find artifacts of the old jails and get knowledge related to the history of jails and the Nizam rule.
How to Reach?
Air: Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (70 km to Sangareddy).
Rail: Secunderabad Junction Railway Station is the closest railhead.
Road: Local or taxis can be hired from Hyderabad to get to Sangareddy.
Famed for their beautiful stone-engraved temples and historical monuments, a visit to Nizamabad can be a religious affair for pilgrims. Take a peek into an ancient temple, Kanteshwar, where you can see the influence of the North Indian style of architecture. As you traverse Nizamabad’s many sites, you may get cultural insights. Attractions like Nizamabad Fort display a blend of simplicity and elegance that gently sits atop a hill, about 300 meters high from the plains.
A visit to this destination truly lives up to its expectations. Apart from the fort mentioned above, you can take an offbeat trip to Alisagar Reservoir. It is an ideal spot to appreciate nature where the sounds of nature overpower the sounds of the city. Also, other places you have to visit are two dams, namely, Nizam Sagar and Pochampad and places for nature lovers such as Pocharam Wildlife Sanctuary and Mallaram Forest.
How to Reach?
Air: Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (225 km to Nizamabad).
Rail: Nizamabad Junction Railway Station is the closest station.
Road: You can reach Nizamabad via NH 44, there are buses operated by Telangana State Road Transport Corporation on a regular basis.
Ramagundam is one of the preferred places to visit for casual getaways especially from Karimnagar and Warangal. Its hush environs may make you want to dwell here for hours. Ramagundam maybe a bit offbeat destination but here, you can visit a few attractions. You can explore local landmarks like the Rama temple located in the old port town. It is the oldest temple in Ramagundam. Also, a noteworthy place to visit is the Ramagundam Dam, which is one of the biggest dams in South India.
How to Reach?
Air: Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (268 km to Ramagundam).
Rail: Ramagundam Railway Station is the main railhead for the city.
Road: TSRTC operated buses ply on a regular basis from all major places in Telangana.
Karimnagar has a hand full of tourist attractions, which are so beautiful that it would be hard to leave this place. Endowed with a rich history, take a minute to appreciate the ruins infused with nature by visiting some of the alluring monuments like Elgandal Hill-Fort, Jagtial Fort, and Ramagiri Fort. Apart from the famous forts, Karimnagar is also a popular pilgrimage destination and one must visit here is Manthani Temple located in the village named Manthani.
This widely visited city is considered to be fourth populated in Telangana and apart from temples and forts, it entertains visitors with its other interesting places. In terms of wildlife, Karimnagar is not far behind, Shivaram Wildlife Sanctuary is the best place to visit for animal lovers. Its riverine forest makes it an ideal habitat for species like crocodiles, leopards, blackbucks and sloth bears.
How to Reach?
Air: Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (208 km to Karimnagar).
Rail: Karimnagar railway station is the main railhead for the city.
Road: Telangana State Road Transport Corporation regularly ply to and from via NH 563.
Perhaps a major highlight of Khammam is its majestic fort located in Stambhadri hill. The fort is about a 1000 year old and it is a major tourist attraction that receives a lot of praises for its architecture that has a blend of Hindu and Islamic style, and also for the view of the city you get from the fort.
While at Khammam, consider visiting other sites like Lakaram Lake which is one of the famous places to visit and also Kinnerasani Wildlife Sanctuary, that houses various species and offers wildlife jeep safaris. For a pilgrimage tour, nearby places from Khammam like Kallur (50 km) and Nelakondapalli (20 km) provide beautiful Hindu temples. And not to miss out during your trip is a visit to the hot springs in Gundala (125 km) and a breathtaking paradisiacal place called Perantalapalli.
How to Reach?
Air: Vijayawada International Airport is the closest airport located in Andhra Pradesh (137 km).
Rail: Khammam Railway Station is the main railhead for the city.
Road: TSRTC buses ply to Khammam via NH 65 on a regular basis.
One of the major destinations in Telangana that offers religious and historical places in Mahbubnagar. Here, the local sites may be limited to shopping around Tipu Sultan Chowk and exploring is confined to the Saint’s Tree – Pillalamarri. However, there are many places around it that can be visited such as Alampur (127 km) where you can find the pilgrimage of Srisailam. Ideally, there are four in all directions with Alampur in the west.
One refine paradise filled with greenery of Nallamala Hills is Farahabad. It is here you can get amused by its enthralling beauty and explore places by going for trekking. It is a perfect place to visit on a family holiday as they also provide camping facilities. Look for “The Tiger Wilds Jungle Camp” while visiting Mahbubnagar. Other places to visit are Pillalamarri (visit to see 800 years old Banyan tree) and Mallela Theertham (see a beautiful waterfall of the same name).
How to Reach?
Air: Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (200 km to Mahbubnagar).
Rail: Mahbubnagar Railway Station is the main railhead of the city.
Road: State buses run from national highway like Srinagar-Kanyakumari and NH 164 regularly.
After Hyderabad, this city named Adilabad is the second largest in Telangana. And for those nature lovers, perhaps this place will give a feeling of ‘heaven on earth.’ Come here and witness the waters gushing from the highest waterfall in Telangana- Kuntala Waterfall. This waterfall is 45 meters tall and it is nestled in the ranges of Sahyadri Mountains. Speaking of which, Pochera Waterfall is also a must-visit. Despite being mere 20m in height, it levitates one’s heart with its beauty and calm surroundings.
Adilabad is a ‘treat to the eye kind of a destination,’ and is filled with a melange of tourist sites like wildlife sanctuaries; three famed places to see wildlife here are Kawal Wildlife Sanctuary, Pranahita Wildlife Sanctuary, and Sivaram Wildlife Sanctuary. Basar Saraswati Temple, on banks of River Godavari, is also an added hotspot for religious people Mahatma Gandhi Park and Kala Ashram are two prominent places to spend some quiet time with nature.
How to Reach?
Air: Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar International Airport is the closest airport located in Nagpur (190 km).
Rail: Adilabad Railway Station is the main railhead for the city.
Road: There are many TSRTC operated buses that ply via NH 44 to Adilabad from all major cities.
Nalgonda is quite popular for its old temples and forts and also for its scenic atmosphere. During your holiday in Nalgonda, you can traverse the many sightseeing places. And one such not to miss attraction is Nagarjuna Sagar Dam, which is the largest, perhaps in the whole of southern India. Standing 124-meter high, this dam can be seen by taking a ferry ride.
Another riveting sight which is a must-visit for nature lovers is Ethipothala Waterfalls. Forts like Devarakonda Fort, Bhongir Fort, and Rachakonda Fort are the obvious choices to visit, however, do consider a visit to Kolanupaka Jain Temple (83 km) which is 2000 years old.
How to Reach?
Air: Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (98 km to Nalgonda).
Rail: Nalgonda Railway Station is the main railhead to the city.
Road: Telangana State Road Transport Corporation regularly ply between states via NH 565.
The lustrous greens, calming lakes and divine temples are all that you can find while in Rangareddy and as a tourist, you’re to find bliss everywhere you turn your head. This beautiful destination of Telangana has some marvelous landmarks, for instance, Ananthagiri hill is where the one who loves dwelling amid nature can visit, explore, trek and appreciate its beauty.
Osman Sagar Lake, on the other hand, could probably lift your spirits high. A view of the calming waters where you can literally see birds reflection as they fly past the lake is one sight to catch. Rangareddy is also a pilgrimage destination, one temple that you must visit here is Keesaragutta. It houses around a thousand Shiva Lingams and perhaps this is a mere reason that attracts a lot of Lord Shiva devotees.
How to Reach?
Air: Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (102 km to Rangareddy).
Rail: Ranga Reddy Guda Station is the main railhead for the city.
Road: You can find Telangana State Road Transport Corporation operated buses plying from various cities to Rangareddy.
A visit to Sircilla can give you a different experience in Telangana because it is a destination where 80% of its population is of weavers. While here, you can visit the Textile Park located in Baddenapally (08 km from Sircilla) that exhibits various models of looms. This is done so, in order to preserve and conserve the history and bring awareness of Sircilla textile industry.
It is perhaps a popular place for handloom shopping as well, where you can contribute by buying products. At Sircilla, other places of interest that can make your visit entertaining are Sri Raja Rajeswara Swamy Temple, which is an ancient temple located in Vemulawada (12 km from Sircilla) and Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy Temple located in Nampally Gutta (10 km from Sircilla).
How to Reach?
Air: Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (187 km to Sircilla).
Rail: Secunderabad Junction Railway Station (134 km to Sircilla)
Road: You can get local buses and taxis that ply to and from, from various Telangana cities.
This youngest Indian destination does have a lot of potential in terms of tourism as it is rich in culture, architecture, and art. If you are seeking a vacation in not so monotonous place, a visit to this land simply is a must. So, Get – Set – Go! by calling us at +91-9212553106 or emailing us at [email protected] if you have problems fixing your itinerary. We also provide affordable holiday tour packages that can make your vacation a notch better without burning a hole in your pocket.
Tripura is one of the ‘Seven Sister States’ of North East India. This small state has a rich culture and history. The place is also known for tourism and there are many tourist places to visit in Tripura. Several important tourist places are also located in Agartala, the capital of Tripura. The beautiful green valleys, hilly landscapes, and temples invite you to explore this enchanting place. Tripura is one of the prominent attractions to be covered in the North East India tour. Let us travel and explore this enthralling place!
Years back, Ujjayanta Palace was a royal palace. Situated at the core of Agartala, the entire hustle-bustle of the city is centered around this palace. Built-in 1901, it has magnificent tiled floors, carved wooden ceilings, and lovely doors. The name ‘Ujjayanta Palace’ was given by Rabindranath Tagore, a regular visitor of Tripura. The State has owns a lineage of an independent royal state. The palace includes the Public halls, Throned room, Durbar Hall, Library, The Chinese Room and The Reception Hall.
Sepahijala Wildlife Sanctuary
Home to a variety of wildlife especially birds and primates, this place is not just a wildlife sanctuary but also an academic and research center. Various lakes are present within the sanctuary, where a boating facility is available.
The picturesque spectacle of the Chittagong hills assaults the senses of each and every onlooker. The hills comprise of mini-mountains with multiple valleys and a small canyon, with 7 rivers meandering across the valleys.
Tripura Sundari Temple
Tripura Sundari Temple is a beautiful temple situated in Udaipur, around 55 km away from Agartala, Tripura. This opulent temple is 500 years old thereby making it the oldest temple present in the Udaipur district. Tripura Sundari Temple is one of the 51 Sakti Peethas and is the place where the toe of the right foot of Sati fell. Owing to its history and beauty, this majestic temple remains flooded by tourists all through the year.
It is also said that Lord Vishnu had cut Sati into 51 pieces with his Sudarshana Chakra and the places where her parts fell came to know as the Shaktipeethas. One fascinating fact about the glorious temple is that it is in the shape of a tortoise and also known as Kurma Peeth. This temple of Kali, built-in 1501, is a place where a steady stream of pilgrims makes almost endless animal sacrifices that leave the grounds as bloody as the temple’s vivid-red shikhara. Devotees throng here during the dazzling Diwali festival (October/November) to bathe in the fish-filled tank by the temple.
Tripura Sundari Temple is believed to be one of the holiest Hindu shrines in the country. It is also known as Matabari and is served by priests in red-robes who minister to the Tripura Sundari. This splendid temple is the most attractive tourist destinations to which hundreds of pilgrims flock on a daily basis.
The Lake Palace of Tripura’ or the Neermahal is the largest palace of its kind in the entire Indian Subcontinent. This architectural beauty rightly derives its name from its location, i.e. the middle of Rudrasagar Lake. It is one of the two water palaces that our country has. The former royal palace is an outcome of King Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur’s great perspective. It was the summer palace for the king and his family. Even today, its highly ornated structure showcases the glorious past. The surrounding lawns and flower beds add seven stars to the beauty of this place.
The evenings at Neermahal are spent watching the light and sound show. It makes people familiar with the cultural heritage of the place and its owners. The historicity comes with a tint of adventure too. Yes, the palace premises also include some water sports activities. This makes it a perfect combination of antiquity and thrill. Moreover, the palace has even gained fame for its ‘Neermahal Water Festival.’ A huge flock of people visits the mahal only to take part in the boat races organized by the board. This architectural marvel has a lot to give to its visitors. Therefore, whenever in Agartala make sure to turn your ways towards this gem of North-East.
Located within the Ujjayanta palace grounds, this saffron-colored temple is influenced by West Bengali culture.
Gondacherra Wildlife Sanctuary
This enchanting sanctuary has maintained an untainted habitat for the multiple species of flora and fauna found here. Mammals like tigers, bison, wild horses, aquatic life as well as migratory birds can be seen here.
The Jagannath temple is a famous religious site located in Agartala in Tripura. Built by the Maharaja of Tripura of the Manikya Dynasty in the 19th century, the temple is situated in the Ujjayanta Palace grounds and is dedicated to the Hindu Gods- Jagannath, Balabhadra and Subhadra. The beauty of this spectacular place lies in the fact that the temple is as much a place of architectural beauty and prestige as it is of religious importance. The temple is also a beautiful place to click some amazing pictures, so be prepared to be taken aback by the sheer beauty of this location.
This grand building to date continues to make Tripura proud because of its architectural magnanimity and is heavily influenced by the Islamic style of edifices. The base of the Jagannath temple is an octagon in shape with brightly colored orange walls. Pyramidal conic structures adorn the pillars of the temple. It is widely believed that the Neelmadhav idol that is consecrated at Puri was donated from the Jagganath Bari Mandir of Tripura. The Nitya Puja, Bhoga offerings and distribution, along with the evening Aarti, are the main rituals that are followed here. The Aartis are especially a must-attend event to appreciate the beauty and simplicity of the temple and to be lost in the devotion of the Almighty. The Ratha Yatra, the annual festival of the temple, is an important festival that is celebrated with great zeal and fervor and is attended by hundreds of devotees each year. Summing it all up, the Jagganath Temple is not a place that you should miss visiting, to experience tranquillity and peace in its best and most pristine form.
Also known as the eternal hills of spring, the Jampui hills live up to their name, having pleasant climate all year round, providing ample opportunity for each visitor to take in the beauty that is this place.
The lush green hills, with plantations of tea, orchids, and orange on the slopes provide a good vantage point to view the valleys below.
Buddhist Temples in Tripura support the fact that Buddhism is quite prevalent in the state. Archaeological evidence has suggested that Buddhists have inhabited the region since ancient times. Several Buddhist rulers ruled over the state and left permanent influences on the culture of the state.
In the 16th century AD, Buddhism was almost eliminated from this region owing to the defeat of Buddhist rulers. Its revival in Tripura began in 17th century AD and since then has permanently existed in the state. Tripura is the capital of one of the seven sister states of the North-East named Agartala which is often referred in unison with Manipur and Mizoram probably because of the common culture, like the Scandinavian countries (Norway, Sweden, and Denmark). In the present scenario, Tripura houses a huge Buddhist population that comprises communities like Chakma, Uchai, Barua, and Mog. Being an important aspect of the socio-cultural heritage of the state, Buddhist temples in Tripura finds a distinct position in the society. They not only attract devotees but numerous tourists from distant regions.
Constructed by King Birendra Kishore Manikya in 1917, the Kunjaban Palace is the official residence of the Governor of Tripura.
The intricate carvings and magnificent structures built here, along with the magnificent adjoining gardens make it a marvelous monument as a whole.
Known as the Mother of the Tribals of Tripura, this lush green valley, decorated with gardens and plantations has become a preferred tourist spot.
An enchanting medieval city, Bourges was the capital of the historic Province of Berry and a center of trade in the 15th and 16th centuries.
The old town is replete with luxurious mansions built for merchants, side-by-side with top-heavy half-timbered houses.
The cathedral is an absolute wonder and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, looking like no other church in the world.
Bourges is also the place to get to know Jacques Cœur, a merchant who traveled far and wide and worked his way into the court of King Charles VII. And if that isn’t enough you can break out into the pastoral Marais where thousands of little garden plots are navigated by a lattice of water channels.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Bourges:
1. Bourges Cathedral
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bourges Cathedral is extraordinary on many levels.
The first thing that might catch your eye is the lack of a transept, as there’s no break between the nave and choir.
This departure from the norm is only made possible by the rows of flying buttresses that run the length of the nave and choir.
On the inside, there’s a unique double aisle that seamlessly becomes a double ambulatory.
At this eastern side of the church, nearly all of the stained glass you’ll see is original, remarkably surviving from the 1215 and conveying bible scenes like Christ’s parables, the Passion, the Apocalypse, and Last Judgement.
2. Cathedral Tower and Crypt
These parts of the cathedral merit another listing because, while you have to pay to see them you won’t regret the small charge.
If you’re coming in summer it’s best to do this part early because the queues can belong.
Climbing the Tour de Buerre (Butter Tower) is no mean feat as there are 400 steps, but there’s a panorama of Bourges to reward you at the top.
The name comes from the means used to fund this 16th-century tower, as people would pay to be able to break their fast and eat butter during Lent.
In the crypt, you’ll be in the vestiges of the cathedral’s 11th-century predecessor and can find the tomb of the Duke Jean de Berry who was responsible for Bourges’ boom years in the 1300s.
3. Old Town
In 1487 there was a great fire in Bourges that destroyed a third of the city and stunted its development as it lost its annual fairs to Troyes and Lyon.
But it also gives us a very unified old town, with diamond-pattern timber houses, packed close together on streets like Rue Bourbonnoux, and a host of stone-built Renaissance mansions.
All you need are your own two feet and a sense of wonder and you’ll find exciting landmarks like the house where the famous merchant Jacques Cœur was born in 1395. There are also some fantastic merchants’ houses from earlier in the 1400s that survived the fire and are either attractions on their own terms or host the city’s museums.
4. Palais Jacques-Cœur
In the middle of the 15th-century the wealthy merchant and treasurer to King Charles VII, Jacques Cœur commissioned this breathtaking Gothic residence.
The Palais Jacques-Cœur came sometime before the Loire Valley’s exuberant Renaissance châteaux, but its carvings lack none of their elegance and richness.
Like its first owner, who opened trade between France and the Levant, the palace has lots of stories to tell: As you move from the galleried courtyard to the spiral staircases, steam rooms, private apartments, servants’ areas, and treasure room, video presentations with fill you in about the architecture, decoration and the people who lived here.
5. Jardin de l’Archevêché
Next to the cathedral, these gardens were laid in the 1730s for the
Archbishop of Bourges, eventually becoming the park for the town hall.
In a familiar French style, there are boxwood topiaries trimmed to sharp points, lime trees in the shape of globes as well as formal lawns and flowerbeds hemmed by paths.
You’ll also always have a privileged view of the cathedral’s awesome flying buttresses as you take your turn in these gardens.
There’s a cafe in the park, kids can hit the playground and you can stop at the romantic Belle Époque bandstand for a closer look.
6. Marais de Bourges
Just a few minutes from the Old Town is an enclave of reclaimed marshland encompassing 135 hectares.
In ancient times this boggy countryside slowed Julius Caesar’s advance in his conquest of Gaul in 52BC. But from around the 8th century, the marshes were brought under human control, and come the 17th-century they were drained and crisscrossed by a web of water channels.
Now the Marais is an outdoor escape for walkers and cyclists, not to mention urban gardening as the Marais is divided into almost 1,500 allotments that used to keep the whole city stocked with fruits and vegetables.
The channels abound with fish and waterfowl, and there isn’t a
prettier place to be on warm June day when the gardens are in flower.
7. Musée du Berry
Hôtel Cujas is yet another of Bourges’ fine old houses with a museum inside.
This Flamboyant Gothic mansion was conceived for a Florentine merchant in 1515 and is named for Jacques Cujas, a 16th-century legal expert who was a tenant for the last few years of his life.
The Musée du Berry inside used to be at the Palais Jacques-Cœur, but moved here in 1891. In the course of almost 200 years, it has amassed a riveting assortment of mosaics, ceramics, and statues.
Some excavated in the city, like the 220 Gallo-Roman Steles from
Ancient Bourges, while there are also finds from Ancient Egypt,
including a mummy from the 4th century BC.
8. Musée Estève
This museum for the 20th-century artist, Maurice Estève could hardly have a nobler home.
The building is the Hôtel des Échevins (House of the Aldermen), a Gothic mansion with ornate stonework on its tower.
Over three floors connected by the tower’s spiral staircase, the museum has the largest single collection of art by Estève, whose career lasted eight decades and took him from surrealism to abstraction via a figurative period.
In the softly lit Galerie Lejuge, you can see his sensational collages, watercolors, and drawings, which are rotated every few months to keep them conserved.
9. Les Nuits Lumière
In the evening from June to September, the town’s most beautiful Gothic and Renaissance landmarks are lit with magnificent projections.
At the Cathedral, Jardin de l’Archevêché and Hôtel des Échevins Palais these ethereal images are combined with music, and part of a walk that literally sheds new light on Bourges and its past.
The climax though is the Palais Jacques-Cœur, where you can go into the courtyard to get to know more about this merchant, his voyage to the Middle East and time in the service of the King.
10. Hôtel Lallemant
In Bourges, you won’t tire of seeing the city’s old mansions because each is as beautiful as the last.
Hôtel Lallemant is one you can lose hours gazing at because of its external decorative sculptures, which are as sharp as ever and include quirky characters, pilasters, capitals, scrolls, columns and all sorts more.
The house is a masterpiece of the French Renaissance and was built at the turn of the 16th century for a family of merchants that had originated in Germany.
Hôtel Lallemant is also built on the Gallo-Roman wall, which causes a divide between the upper and lower courtyards.
Call in for a small museum on decorative arts, which has a few rooms of miniature toys and antique furniture.
11. Promenade des Remparts
In the 4th century Avaricum (Gallo-Roman Bourges) became the capital of the Aquitaine Premièr province, and so controlled a massive tract of southwestern France.
At that time the city erected a new system of walls, gates, and towers to defend itself in what is now Bourges’ upper town.
With some help from the tourist office, you can walk the elliptical course of these defenses.
The Gallo-Roman parts are still visible throughout Bourges’ streetscape in the lowest sections of medieval dwellings, walls, and towers.
12. Jardin des Prés-Michaux
Just north of the center, on the left bank of the Yèvre just after it leaves the Marais is a calming Art Deco garden landscaped in the 1920s.
Come here to wander by an amazing array of plant sculptures: The are linden hedges, arches made from trimmed yews and all kinds of strange topiaries dotted here and there.
In between are geometric lawns edged flowerbeds next to long, straight promenades.
Art Deco-style Sculptures, fountains, stone reliefs and wisteria-draped pergolas make this a sophisticated place to idle away an hour or so.
13. Lac du Val d’Auron
A man-made body of water a mere two kilometers south of the old town, the Lac du Val d’Auron is awash with activity in summer.
There’s carp fishing, sailing, and canoeing on the lake, which has meadow and woodland on its southern shores and more of Bourges’ outskirts the further north you go.
It’s not all about watersports though, as there’s an equestrian center on the western shore while just east of the lake is the 18-hole municipal golf course, with a nine-hole pitch & putt and a driving range.
14. Printemps de Bourges
Live music fans owe it to themselves to check out this festival that happens over five days in April.
Printemps de Bourges has a format that has been copied in many places, as for these few days 13 stages at different locations around the town host some 200 artists.
It’s a week of fun and youthful energy, when some 200,000 people, mostly students, and 20-somethings, pour into the city.
For the industry, the festival is a major A&R event, and a chance to scout up-and-coming talent, especially at the fringe Les Découvertes du Printemps de Bourges shows for unsigned acts.
15. Route Jacques Cœur
You’ve seen his birthplace and the resplendent mansion that he built, but there’s even more heritage in the Bourges area relating to the city’s famous son.
Jacques Cœur was a pretty interesting character and you can find other places relevant to him on a designated route that was set up as long ago as 1954. There are 16 sites on the itinerary, taking in towns in the region like Sancerre, also beloved for its wine, and Mehun Sur Yèvre, which has the awe-inspiring ruins of a castle where Charles VII died in 1461.
The Loire Valley invites visitors to step into the scene of a fairy tale, complete with stunning castles and enchanting countryside. Known as the “Garden of France,” the entire area of the Loire Valley is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Because of its beauty, the Loire Valley was frequently visited by the French kings. The region has been strategically important since the Middle Ages and the Hundred Years’ War, but the Loire really came to life during the Renaissance.
During the 15th and 16th centuries, the French Kings dreamed up a vision of luxury and opulence and built extravagant country retreats amid the Loire’s woodlands and rivers. These lavish royal castles became legendary, and rich nobles followed suit by creating their own grand homes in the area. The sumptuous Renaissance châteaux were designed purely for enjoyment and entertaining, an extension of court life outside Paris. The grandiose Chambord is the most magnificent château, while Chenonceau is the most elegant. Find the best things to see and do in the region with our list of the top tourist attractions in the Loire Valley.
1 Château de Chambord
In a majestic location on the left bank of the Loire River, the Château of Chambord is the most emblematic Renaissance monument in France. A breathtaking sight to behold, this enormous castle provided inspiration for the building of the Château de Versailles. The estate was created in the early 16th century (at the height of the French Renaissance) for King Francis I, who spared no expense. The building was constructed on a scale of immense proportions, measuring 117 meters by 156 meters. With turrreted towers, impressive vaulted ceilings, 440 rooms, and a gigantic double-helix staircase at the entry hall, the Château de Chambord is definitely fit for royalty. Louis XIV (the “Sun King”) frequently resided here, hosting extravagant gala balls, hunting parties, and amusing soirées. The celebrated playwright Molière presented his comedy Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme while he was staying at the château as a guest of Louis XIV.
The extensive property of Chambord is encircled by a 32-kilometer wall (the longest in France), with six gates that allow access to the grounds. Of the property’s 5,500 hectares of parkland, four-fifths is pristine forests. Visitors are dazzled by the French Formal Gardens that are landscaped in geometric patterns with perfectly manicured shrubs and tidy flowerbeds. The garden’s Italianate terrace was a central feature of court life when the king was in residence. Today Chambord is a must-see destination in the Loire Valley, about a two-hour drive from Paris. Tourists can take an 80-minute train ride from Paris Austerlitz station to the Blois Chambord station, which is a 25-minute shuttle or taxi ride away from the château.
2 Château de Chenonceau
An elegant château with a distinctive feminine touch, Chenonceau was strongly influenced by the famous women who have lived here. Thomas Bohier acquired the Château de Chenonceau in 1512, and his wife, Catherine Briçonnet renovated the medieval castle by rebuilding it in Renaissance style with a spacious central entrance hall and Italianate staircase. After being acquired by the Crown Estate in 1535, the château became the property of King Henry II, who presented the château to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers, in 1547. Henry’s widow Catherine de Médicis, who took over the royal residence in 1533, was responsible for creating the most unique feature of the château, the Corps de Logis. This two-story gallery stands upon a graceful arched bridge that crosses the Cher River, giving the impression that the château is floating on water. To further impress visitors, the Corps de Logis gallery displays fine paintings and antique tapestries. With an air of both delicacy and grandeur, the château’s stately halls once provided the ideal setting for refined social gatherings.
Equalling the beauty of the interior, the château’s Renaissance French Gardens is landscaped with decorative pools and flower beds. The garden’s spacious “floating parterre” (raised terraces covered with lawn) was the creative vision of Diane de Poitiers. In the Garden of Catherine de Médicis, roses flourish on trellises of a walking path, which overlooks the castle moat, a sublime scene sure to inspire leisurely strolls. On summer weekend evenings, the gardens take on a magical glow, illuminated by hundreds of lanterns for Nocturnal Promenades (Night Walks).
Another reason to linger at the château is the property’s fine-dining restaurant, L’Orangerie, which serves gourmet cuisine in an exquisite dining room. The château also has a tea room with an outdoor patio in the Green Garden, a casual self-service restaurant, and a crêperie, as well as shaded picnic areas. Château de Chenonceau is accessible by the rapid-speed TGV train (a one-hour ride) from the Paris Montparnasse station to the Tours station. By car, it takes about two hours to reach Chenonceau from Paris.
3 Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres
The charming old town of Chartres is crowned by the UNESCO-listed Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Chartres, an important pilgrimage destination during the Middle Ages. This awe-inspiring French Gothic church stands in an elevated position, with its soaring spires visible from a distance. Built-in the 12th and 13th centuries, Chartres Cathedral is one of the finest and best-preserved medieval churches in France as well as an important landmark of Christian art and architecture. The influence of Chartres Cathedral is seen in many other Gothic cathedrals in Europe, including Amiens and Reims in France, Westminster Abbey in England, Cologne Cathedral in Germany, and the Catedral de León in Spain. The stained-glass windows of Chartres also inspired similar workmanship at the cathedrals in Bourges, Le Mans, Poitiers, Rouen, and Tours in France, and Canterbury in England.
Chartres Cathedral features a highly ornamental facade centered around the Royal Portail (doorway) adorned with monumental Old Testament figures, an early form of Gothic sculpture. The cathedral is most renowned for its abundance of intricately detailed medieval stained-glass windows (nearly 3,000 square meters) that are perfectly conserved; most of the windows date from 1210 to 1260, an exceptional rarity in existence. Particularly breathtaking are the three immense rose windows. Other notable features in the cathedral are the Late Gothic choir screens with scenes from the life of the Virgin and the Gospels, and the terrace with a panoramic view of the lower town. During summertime (on Sunday afternoons in July and August), the cathedral presents sacred music performances (free of charge) as part of the International Organ Festival. Chartres is an easy day trip from Paris, approximately a 90-minute car ride from the city center or train ride from Saint-Lazare station.
Boasting many old palaces and burghers’ houses, the old ducal city of Bourges enjoys a picturesque setting on the Yèvre and Aveyron Rivers in the historic province of Berry. The town’s top attraction, the UNESCO-listed Cathédrale Saint-Etienne ranks among the most splendid of French cathedrals built in the 12th-13th centuries. The ornate west front, flanked by massive towers, has five doorways with rich sculptural decoration and an exquisite 14th-century rose window. The cathedral is entered through the Romanesque south doorway, over which is a figure of Christ in Majesty, surrounded by the symbols of the four Evangelists. The interior stuns visitors with its gorgeous sanctuary illuminated by 13th-century stained-glass windows. In a chapel near the choir are interesting 15th-century kneeling figures of the Duc Jean de Berry and his wife. Tourists can also climb to the top of the north tower to take in spectacular views. Another noteworthy building is the Palais Jacques Côur, a palace built in 1443-1453 by the royal treasurer Jacques Côur, exemplifying secular Gothic architecture. About a 30 minutes’ drive southwest of Bourges is the 12th-century Cistercian Abbey of Noirlac, a fantastic example of Cistercian architecture with an arcaded cloister dating from the 13th and 14th centuries.
5 Château de Cheverny
A private estate in a tranquil countryside setting near a vast forest, the Château of Cheverny dazzles visitors with its enchanting gardens and magnificent interior. Cheverny Castle claims to be the most fully furnished and decorated of the Loire châteaux. Built-in the early 1600s in harmonious Classical style, this exceptional manor house has been home to the same family for more than six centuries and opened its doors to the public in 1922. The grand halls and remarkably well-maintained apartments of the château are graced with the original furniture and decor, such as a 17th-century Gobelin tapestry and a Louis XIV chest, which provide an insight into noble life centuries ago. The entryway features an elaborately designed stairway, while the main rooms are embellished with Louis XIII boiseries (intricately carved paneling). For those more interested in French popular culture, the château has an exposition of Tintin comic strips.
One of the highlights of the Château of Cheverny is the English-style park, a bucolic expanse of tidily manicured green lawns shaded by giant redwoods and cedar trees. The more adventurous can rent an electric car to take a spin through the property’s forest path. Another enjoyable way to take in the scenery is by gliding around the lake on an electric boat. When visitors are in need of refreshments, the Café de l’Orangerie delights with its fancy pastries, homemade ice cream, snacks, and beverages, served in the 18th-century orangery building or outside on the terrace. On sunny days, the château’s open-air picnic area is another favorite spot. The Château of Cheverny is an easy (approximately two-hour) car ride or train ride from Paris. The best option by train is from the Paris Austerlitz station to the Blois-Chambord station and then a short (16-kilometer) taxi ride to the château.
Azay-le-Rideau is renowned for its magnificent Renaissance château, a dreamy fairy-tale-like building that is surrounded by a moat and lovely gardens. The Château d’Azay-le-Rideau was built in the 16th century by a wealthy financier. The design of this stately château was greatly influenced by Italian architecture. The most notable features on the ground floor are the rib-vaulted kitchen and the dining room with a richly decorated chimney and numerous tapestries. Sumptuous Renaissance furniture and paintings decorate the reception rooms. In the town of Azay-le-Rideau, there is an interesting church, the Eglise Saint-Symphorien, that blends Romanesque and Gothic styles. The facade of the south aisle reveals remains of Carolingian reliefs. In the nearby Château of Saché, the famous author Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) wrote some of his novels. The room where Balzac worked has been preserved as it was.
Only ten kilometers away from Azay-le-Rideau is another spectacular château: Château de Langeais, one of the fastest-built châteaux in the Loire Valley. The château was constructed by King Louis XI in only four years from 1465 to 1469. This striking landmark has remained unchanged for centuries; the medieval rooms with their original decorations and wall-hangings are particularly worth seeing. King Charles VIII was married here to Anne de Bretagne in 1491.
Travelers visiting this area can spend the night in regal style at the nearby Château de Rochecotte, about 20 kilometers away from the Château d’Azay-le-Rideau. This 4-star hotel was formerly the residence of the Prince de Talleyrand and the Duchesse de Dino. Ensuring a luxurious experience, the spacious, bright guest rooms feature plush decor and sensational views of the gardens, while the château’s upscale dining room serves a delicious lunch menu and afternoon tea, with desserts prepared by the restaurant’s pastry chef. The property’s 20 hectares of wooded parkland includes formal gardens, an Italianate terrace, and a heated swimming pool.
7 Château de Valençay
The Château de Valençay was built in stages from the medieval era through the Renaissance period, and for this reason, the building blends a variety of architectural styles. The main wing reveals design elements inspired by the Italian Renaissance, while the two-story side wing is Baroque. The side wing also shows the influence of Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord (Prince Talleyrand), Napoleon’s foreign minister, who acquired the château in 1803 and resided here in rooms outfitted with Empire furniture. One of the highlights of the château is the Family Portraits Gallery, adorned with paintings that depict Talleyrand’s ancestors. As a tribute to Prince Talleyrand, the château’s Salle des Trésors (Hall of Treasures) displays a collection of personal items that belonged to the savvy Lord of Valençay, who was known for his business acumen, diplomatic talents, and art of living.
Similar to many royal estates, the Château de Valençay encompasses vast grounds. Set in a 53-hectare park including lush forests, the property features immaculately manicured Formal Gardens with a profusion of flowerbeds, sculptures, decorative pools, and fountains. Ideal for relaxing, some of the grassy spaces of the gardens are designated as picnic areas. The woodland portion of the grounds features a four-kilometer path that traverses the forest for taking invigorating nature walks (alternatively electric golf carts are available).
Another exceptional estate nearby is the Domaine de Poulaines in the town of Berry (only seven kilometers away from the Château de Valençay). Nestled in a 20-hectare woodland, the Domaine de Poulaines offers 4.5 hectares of marvelous themed gardens, awarded the “Jardin Remarquable” (“Remarkable Garden”) label in 2014. A refreshing outdoor space with shady 100-year-old trees; an English landscape garden planted with roses, dahlias, and peonies; an aromatic herb garden; koi pond; and an Arboretum with 400 different varieties of trees make this property a special place.
The largest town in the Loire Valley after Tours, Orléans is a good base to begin exploring the region. Inseparably bound with the history of Joan of Arc, the city owes its survival to the 17-year-old “Maid of Orléans,” who helped lead the French to victory against the English when Orléans was besieged in 1429. A small museum in a restored 15th-century house, the Maison de Jeanne-d’Arc is devoted to Joan of Arc, who is now recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church.
Another landmark associated with Joan of Arc, where she spent time in silent prayer, is the 13th-century Cathédrale Sainte-Croix. The cathedral’s monumental exterior features twin towers (81 meters high), five doorways, and elaborate Baroque decoration. The sheer size of the interior leaves a lasting impression, while colorful stained-glass windows allow visitors to marvel at the history of Joan of Arc. For a further immersion into the city’s culture, tourists can peruse the art collection at the Musée des Beaux-Arts, which displays around 700 artworks (paintings, sculptures and decorative objects) from the 15th to the 20th century, such as pieces by Correggio, Tintoretto, Delacroix, Gauguin, and Picasso.
About 27 kilometers away from Orléans is the Château de Meung-Sur-Loire, one of the oldest castles in the Loire Valley. Set in expansive parklands, the château reveals the evolution of French architecture with its variety of architectural details, from 12th-century towers to the 18th-century facade. The castle also played a strategic role for Joan of Arc in 1429 at a crucial moment during the Hundred Years’ War.
The medieval town of Amboise was built up along the left bank of the Loire River (about 25 kilometers east of Tours) with dense forest in the background. The city’s most fascinating attraction is the Château Royal d’Amboise, where French kings resided for five centuries. Standing proudly on a rocky cliff at nearly 40 meters high, the château offers a fantastic vantage point of the Loire Valley landscape. Mostly built during the reign of Charles VIII in the 15th century, the castle exemplifies late Gothic architecture with its richly articulated facade and imposing round towers. For more royal history, tourists can visit the Chapelle Saint-Hubert, built around 1491 for King Charles VIII and his wife Anne de Bretagne who was the Duchess of Brittany. The chapel is a fine example of Gothic architecture, with intricate sculptures and gargoyles on the facade and a jewel-box interior illuminated by brilliant stained-glass windows.
Another top attraction in Amboise is the Château du Clos Lucé, where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last three years of his life. At this splendid property, visitors can learn all about the great Renaissance man. Throughout the year, the Château du Clos Lucé presents permanent exhibitions about Leonardo da Vinci’s life story and accomplishments. From April through December, temporary “Cultural Season” exhibitions focus on Leonardo da Vinci’s projects and original ideas (such as his studies of birds and his vision for creating a flying vehicle). Visitors should leave time to wander around Leonardo’s Garden, which abounds with burgeoning plant species that inspired Leonardo da Vinci’s interest in botany.
Perched on two hills above the Loire River, the historic city of Blois is full of old-world ambiance. The typical characteristics of a medieval town are all found here: narrow medieval streets, half-timbered buildings, a monumental château, and a soaring cathedral. Boasting a regal pedigree, Blois was a royal residence for seven French kings. During King Louis XII and King Francis I reigns, the town played a similar role to that of the Château de Versailles for Louis XIV. Originally a fortified citadel, the Château Royal de Blois reflects changing architectural styles of the eras it was built (13th through 17th centuries). For instance, the Francis I wing is a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture with a grandiose octagonal staircase. A short walk from the château is a former Benedictine church, the 12th- to 13th-century Eglise Saint-Nicolas, renowned for its stained-glass windows that brighten the harmonious sanctuary.
Standing on high ground in the old town, the Cathédrale Saint-Louis surprises visitors with its simple, unadorned vaulted interior and contemporary stained-glass windows. After taking a look at the cathedral, tourists should take time to admire the handsome old burghers’ houses nearby. History buffs will also appreciate the town’s Musée de la Résistance (at Place de la Grève), which chronicles the French resistance efforts, the Occupation period, and the Liberation at the end of the Second World War.
11 Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire
About 18 kilometers away from Blois, the Château de Chaumont appears as if it’s straight from the page of a fairy tale. This multi-towered and turreted fortress-like château was founded in the year 1000, rebuilt by King Louis XI around 1465 and acquired by Catherine de Médicis in 1550. The château’s apartments, including the Catherine de Médicis room, are beautifully appointed with historic tapestries and works of art. Many of the rooms have been recently embellished with renovated furnishings and decor, allowing visitors to appreciate the château in all its original glory. Both the château and its English-style gardens are open to the public. Adding to its tourist appeal, the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire presents contemporary “Art Season” exhibits, changing annually to showcase the work of emerging artists, with artworks, sculptures, and creative installations displayed throughout the château and gardens. The château also hosts the “Festival International des Jardins,” a garden design festival that draws inspiration from concepts in literature and poetry.
This historic city is a pleasure to discover by taking a leisurely stroll. A walk through the cobblestone streets between Place Plumereau and the Place du Grand-Marché will give an impression of the character of Vieux Tours (the old town). With its tree-lined courtyard space, bustling outdoor cafés, and handsome half-timbered houses, the Place Plumereau is a particularly inviting place to stop. Tourists should plan to spend some time at the Cathédrale Saint-Gatien to admire the Flamboyant Gothic facade, as well as the glorious vaulted sanctuary, illuminated by the 13th-century stained-glass windows. To the south of the cathedral is the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tours, which showcases masterpieces of fine art from the 14th to the 20th century, including paintings by Rubens, Rembrandt, Delacroix, Degas, and Monet. To the north of the cathedral, the medieval Château de Tours presents photography exhibitions created in partnership with the Musée Parisien de la Photographie. For another dose of culture, tourists can continue walking (about 15 minutes west of the Château de Tours) to the Hôtel Goüin, a Renaissance mansion that now welcomes visitors for art and photography expositions, as well as music performances.
Once the capital of Anjou county, Angers is dominated by the Château d’Angers, perched majestically on a 32-meter-high crag above the Maine River. Built-in the 13th century as a fortress, this vast citadel is enclosed by stout defensive walls, with 17 round towers. In the 14th and 15th centuries, court life flourished here under the Dukes of Anjou, patrons of the arts. The château is known for its tapestry collection, most notably the Tapestry of the Apocalypse, an important work of medieval art. One of the fun things to do while visiting the castle is to take a walk along the ramparts, which afford panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.
In the old town of Anger, the Cathédrale Saint-Maurice d’Angers surprises visitors with its unusual architectural details. The spacious interior features three large domes (constructed in the 12th century) known as “Angevin Gothic” or “Plantagenêt” vaulting. Another dazzling impression comes from the cathedral’s medieval stained-glass windows, in particular the “Glorification de la Vierge” window. A short walk south of the cathedral, the Musée des Beaux-Arts has a superb collection of fine art housed in a stately 15th-century hôtel particulier. Also not to be missed is the Collégiale Saint-Martin, a Romanesque church with elements dating to the Merovingian (5th and 6th centuries) and Carolingian (10th-century) eras, as well as the Gothic period. Other cultural attractions include the Galerie David d’Angers, which displays the sculptures of Pierre-Jean David in a renovated 13th-century abbey church; the Musée Jean Lurçat et de la Tapisserie Contemporaine, which showcases contemporary tapestries; and the Musée Pincé, devoted to Greek, Egyptian, Roman (and other) antiquities.
Topping the vacation to-do list for families with kids is to spend a day at Terra Botanica, an amusement park with a botanical-themed twist. (The park is a 10-minute drive outside the historic part of Anger on the Route d’Epinard.) Within the extraordinary gardens of Terra Botanica, around 275,000 diverse plant species thrive roses, dahlias, orchids, water lilies, rare vegetables, herbs, spices, tropical palms, cactuses, and thousand-year-old trees. Grown-ups will adore the beautiful Rose Garden and the traditionally landscaped Grandma’s Path, while kids will love the play area, boat rides, Butterfly Greenhouse, and the hanging gardens on Elves’ Island14 Chinon and Château d’Ussé
14 Chinon and Château d’Ussé
With its ruined castle looming from above on a steep ridge of a hill, the town of Chinon has a romantic ambiance. The old town lies between the fortress and the Vienne River. The Forteresse Royale de Chinon dates back to the 10th century and is a masterpiece of medieval architecture. Joan of Arc had an important meeting with the Dauphin Charles here in 1429. The Rue Voltaire, with its 15th- and 16th-century houses, and the 12th-century Church of Saint-Maurice is particularly worth seeing. The most important event in the history of Chinon was the meeting between Charles VII and Joan of Arc on March 9, 1429, which marked the beginning of the reconquest of French territory from the English.
A vision of a fairy-tale fantasy is found 12 kilometers from Chinon at the Château d’Ussé, the castle that provided inspiration to Charles Perrault, who wrote the “Sleeping Beauty” story in the 17th-century. Built-in stages between the 15th and 17th centuries, the Château d’Ussé shows a mingling of Late Gothic and Renaissance architecture. The rooms feature Florentine and Louis XV furniture, 16th- and 17th-century tapestries, and marble marquetry. Visitors are also impressed by the castle’s unique spiral staircase and the grand staircase designed by Mansart, the architect of the Château de Versailles. The grounds rank among the Loire Valley’s prettiest gardens, created by Le Nôtre (known as the “King’s Gardener”), who landscaped Versailles. Tucked away in a peaceful spot of the property is the Collégiale Notre Dame d’Ussé, dedicated to Sainte-Anne d’Ussé. This 16th-century chapel exemplifies pure Renaissance style. The Château d’Ussé is owned by the Duke of Blacas and has been a private home in the family for more than two centuries.
15 Le Mans
Although most famous for its car race, Le Mans is worth discovering for its cultural heritage. Surrounded by remnants of ancient Gallo-Roman walls and brimming with old-world charm, the historic section of Le Mans known as the “Cité Plantagenêt” (named after Geoffrey Plantagenet, the Count of Anjou, and Maine counties), is a delightful escape from the modern world. This historic gem of an old town covers 20 hectares, filled with cobblestone streets, half-timbered houses, and Renaissance mansions. The main thoroughfare of the Cité Plantagenêt is the Grande Rue. Tourists should stop to notice the Renaissance mansion, Maison d’Adam et d’Eve (69 Grand Rue at the crossing of Rue du Bouquet), before ambling along the Rue de la Reine Bérengère until reaching the Cathédrale Saint-Julien. First-time visitors are struck by the cathedral’s incredible facade, especially the abundance of flying buttresses and the fabulously detailed sculpting. The sanctuary is among the finest in France, with medieval stained-glass windows rivaling Chartres Cathedral, especially the Ascension window, and ceiling paintings in the Chapelle de la Vierge, which depict 47 angelic musicians. Another top tourist attraction near the cathedral is the Musée de la Reine-Bérengère, dedicated to regional history and culture. Also within the Cité Plantagenêt are two pleasant green spaces, the Bicentenary Square on the Rue de la Verrerie, which has a rose garden and benches for relaxing, and the Robert Trigger Square, with a view of the cathedral and a small garden of aromatic plants.
Just outside the Cité Plantagenêt is the Musée de Tessé, a fine arts museum that displays paintings, sculptures, and decorative objects from the 12th to 20th centuries, as well as Egyptian antiquities. Also beyond the Cité Plantagenêt is the Eglise Notre-Dame-de-la-Couture, a former Benedictine abbey church with a Virgin and Child statue sculpted by renowned Renaissance artist Germain Pilon. On the right bank of the Sarthe River, the Eglise Notre-Dame-du-Pré offers the chance to experience a serene Romanesque sanctuary. Of course, car-racing enthusiasts will want to visit the Sarthe Automobile Museum (near the Circuit des 24 Heures race track) to learn about the race and see the actual winning vehicles.
Halfway between Anger and Tours, the medieval town of Saumur is at the heart of the historic Anjou region where the pastoral landscape is dotted with woodlands, vine-covered hills, flower fields, and small farms. Saumur has one of the most impressive of the Loire Valley châteaux, built in the 14th century on a hill high above the Loire River, creating a striking impression from far in the distance. Originally, the Château de Saumur was the property of the Count of Anjou, then the Plantagenêt dynasty and later was converted into a royal residence by King Saint Louis IX in the early 13th century. In the 15th century, the castle became the royal domain of King René, who called his resplendent palace the “castle of love.” Designed around an open courtyard, the château is entered through a large and imposing doorway. Inside, the Château de Saumur contains the Musée de Saumur, which has a collection of decorative works of art, furniture, tapestry, and ceramics from the 14th to 18th centuries along with an assortment of equestrian objects. In addition, the museum presents temporary expositions throughout the year, while the château hosts (French-language) cultural events during summertime, such as open-air film screenings. Tourists can visit the castle’s gardens and the outdoor terrace overlooking the Loire Valley landscape.
Those interested in French gastronomy can discover an important culinary ingredient that’s cultivated in the area around Saumur: “Champignons de Paris” (known as “button mushrooms”). In fact, the region’s mushroom farms (champignonnières) supply three-quarters of all the Champignons de Paris mushrooms produced in France. Derived from a variety of wild mushrooms, the Champignons de Paris is now grown in mass quantities in the region’s underground cellars. The prized culinary ingredient is destined for use in Coq au Vin (chicken in wine sauce), Boeuf Bourguignon (Beef Burgundy), traditional quiches, and other recipes. The Musée du Champignon gives visitors a peek into the intriguing world of mushrooms. Within the museum’s chilly caves, several different varieties of cultivated mushrooms are on display, including Champignons de Paris, oyster mushrooms, and reishi Mushrooms. Self-guided tours (with information available in French and English) or guided group tours in French or English provide an in-depth educational experience. Adding to the fun, the museum allows visitors the chance to sample various appetizers prepared with mushrooms.
17 Château de Montreuil-Bellay
Originally designed as a citadel, the Château de Montreuil-Bellay has a fascinating history. The château earned its reputation as impregnable because it withstood a siege by the Count of Anjou in the 12th century. In the 13th century, the château was used as a hunting lodge and hosted elaborate feasts. During the Hundred Years’ War, peasants took refuge in the castle moat and neighboring monasteries. Later, when the Wars of Religion broke out, both the Catholics and Protestants turned to this location to refuel weapons and ammunition. By the late 15th century, the château served as a country manor estate instead of a fortress. As the castle’s purpose changed throughout the centuries, the architecture evolved. The original austere fortress, with its 650 meters of ramparts and 13 defense towers, was transformed into a luxurious palace.
Open to the public for guided tours, the Château de Montreuil-Bellay gives tourists access to view two levels of the building: the cellars and the fully furnished rooms of the ground floor, including the Duchess of Longueville’s bedroom; a well-preserved medieval kitchen; a beautifully decorated drawing-room; a dining room with traditional beamed ceiling; and a small music room. The castle grounds include verdant gardens, filled with shady lime trees and fragrant roses. Also on the property is the 15th-century Collégiale Notre-Dame church, decorated with the coats of arms of the château’s Lords.
18 Château de Villandry
Built-in the 16th century for Jean Le Breton, Minister of Finance to King François I, the Château de Villandry is renowned for its gorgeous Renaissance gardens. The French-style landscaping was first laid out in the 16th century. From the upper floor of the château, a flight of steps leads down to the gardens, which cover an expansive area of five hectares. To the left is the Ornamental Garden, with four “salons” of meticulously arranged greenery. The first salon, called the “Garden of Love,” is designed in the style of gardens found in Andalusia (with four geometric beds); each bed of flowers represents a different type of love. Beyond the Ornamental Gardens is the Kitchen Garden, planted with vegetables laid out in decorative geometric forms. Reminiscent of medieval monastery gardens, the Herb Garden boasts 30 varieties of culinary and medicinal herbs, planted in circular beds to symbolize eternity. Other highlights include a maze of “charmilles” (hornbeam hedges), the Water Garden, featuring an ornamental pond, and the view of the village of Villandry and its Romanesque church in the distance.
The château’s eagerly awaited “Nights of a Thousand Lights” takes place on several evenings in July and August, when the gardens are illuminated with 2,000 candles. At this special event, visitors can take a romantic stroll through the gardens in their magical state, while enjoying entertainment and fireworks.
Listed as one of the “Plus Beaux Détours de France” (Most Beautiful Detours of France), the historic town of Loches offers old-world charm, alluring gardens, and picture-perfect scenery alongside the Indre River, a left-bank tributary of the Loire. On the hill above the modern section of Loches is the Cité Médiévale, the medieval city, fortified by a circuit of ramparts stretching two kilometers long. Tourists enter the Cité Médiévale through the 14th- to 15th-century Porte Royale, a gate once approached by a drawbridge. Within this walled city is a captivating medieval world of winding cobblestone streets, quiet pedestrian lanes, and ancient Tuffeau stone buildings. Built on a rocky spur (inside the Cité Médiévale) is the Collégiale Saint-Ours, a Romanesque church originally founded in 962 but mostly dating to the 12th century, and the Château de Loches, dating from the 15th to 16th centuries. Once the residence of King Charles VII, the château is where Joan of Arc met with Charles VII and encouraged him to travel to Reims for his coronation. The Salle Jeanne d’Arc contains a small collection of weapons and an assortment of antique tapestries.
A worthwhile detour from Loches is 18 kilometers away to Montrésor, a quaint little town on the banks of the Indre River listed as one of France’s “Most Beautiful Villages” (“Plus Beaux Villages“). Presiding over the town and the surrounding bucolic landscape is a medieval château built in the 11th century by Foulques Nerra, the Count of Anjou. The town also has a noteworthy 16th-century church, the Collégiale Saint Jean-Baptiste, which is a masterpiece of Renaissance architecture. A visit to Montrésor could easily be combined on a driving itinerary that includes the Château de Chenonceau (30 kilometers north).
20 Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud
The largest monastery in Europe, the Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud is nestled in a verdant valley near the Loire River and encompasses 13 hectares of parkland. The Benedictine abbey was founded in 1099 by an eclectic and iconoclastic preacher named Robert d’Arbrissel, considered a radical because he created a community for people of diverse social backgrounds. Another unusual fact is that the abbey was always run by an abbess, who governed both male monks and female nuns. A succession of 36 abbesses ran the abbey over the course of seven centuries. Queen Eleanor of Aquitaine, wife of King Henry II of England, had strong ties to the abbey, which was her favorite place of worship. During the last years of her life, Queen Eleanor lived at the abbey, and she commissioned the effigies of herself, as well as her husband, that is in the abbey church.
furniture Fontevraud Abbey is now open to the public; visitors can tour the main priory; the Romanesque abbey church (built between 1105 and 1165); an interesting Byzantine kitchen, complete with the original fish smokehouse used to make smoked salmon; and a lush garden planted with vegetables, herbs, and fruit trees. Another highlight of visiting the abbey is its gourmet restaurant. For those who would like to spend the night at a spiritually inspiring retreat, the four-star hotel on the property pampers guests with luxurious, contemporary-style rooms in the former Saint-Lazare priory. Ron the heart of the Loire Valley, just 10 kilometers from Blois and 20 kilometers from Chambord, the Château de Beauregard is the old hunting lodge of King Francis I, who reigned during the first half of the 16th century. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the castle served as a residence for the French king’s ministers. This stately building reflects the grandeur of its rich heritage. Three centuries of France’s history are represented in the château’s portrait gallery, with 327 portraits of kings and important political figures. An expansive parkland surrounds the castle, including gardens planted with ancient cedars, cherry blossom trees, and flowering plants. Depending on the season, vibrant azaleas, camellias, rhododendrons, and a hundred variety of fragrant heirloom roses enliven the grounds. Those who spend more time wandering will come across the ruins of a 14th-century chapel, a landmark on the medieval pilgrimage trail to Santiago de la Compostela. Also on the property are vacation cottages that are available to rent for overnight accommodations. you Abbey of Fontevraud could be a good addition to a tour itinerary with Saumur (14 kilometers away) and Chinon (16 kilometers away).
21 Château de Beauregard
n the heart of the Loire Valley, just 10 kilometers from Blois and 20 kilometers from Chambord, the Château de Beauregard is the old hunting lodge of King Francis I, who reigned during the first half of the 16th century. During the 16th and 17th centuries, the castle served as a residence for the French king’s ministers. This stately building reflects the grandeur of its rich heritage. Three centuries of France’s history are represented in the château’s portrait gallery, with 327 portraits of kings and important political figures. An expansive parkland surrounds the castle, including gardens planted with ancient cedars, cherry blossom trees, and flowering plants. Depending on the season, vibrant azaleas, camellias, rhododendrons, and a hundred variety of fragrant heirloom roses enliven the grounds. Those who spend more time wandering will come across the ruins of a 14th-century chapel, a landmark on the medieval pilgrimage trail to Santiago de la Compostela. Also on the property are vacation cottages that are available to rent for overnight accommodations.
On the banks of the Loire River, this elegant historic town was an important medieval pilgrimage destination. The Abbaye de la Trinité was first built here in the 11th century. In the 13th century, the Romanesque abbey was rebuilt in grand Gothic style with an opulent facade, an impressive vaulted nave, and Flamboyant Gothic windows. The abbey gained a reputation as a stopover, close to Saint Martin’s tomb in Tours, along the pilgrims’ road to Santiago de Compostela. At the center of Vendôme is the Place Saint-Martin, and nearby is the Tour Saint-Martin, all that remains of a Renaissance church. Other noteworthy churches in Vendôme include the Chapelle Saint-Jacques, a Gothic chapel now used for cultural expositions, and the 15th-century Eglise Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, with lovely stained-glass windows.
One of France’s Most Beautiful Villages (Plus Beaux Villages), Lavardin is 18 kilometers away from Vendôme amid the rolling hills and cliffs of the Loire Valley. To arrive at the village, visitors must traverse a Gothic bridge that spans the Loire River. The ruins of an old château give this picturesque village a romantic charm. The fortified castle withstood an attack by Richard the Lionheart but was overtaken by King Henry IV’s troops. The village features a mix of architectural styles and periods, from Gothic to Renaissance, and even some cave dwellings.
Châteaudun is perched high on a rocky outcrop, the perfect defensive location during the Middle Ages. In the 12th century, the Count of Blois chose this lofty, difficult-to-access spot to build a fortress featuring a massive 31-meter tower, and that feudal castle is considered the first château of the Loire Valley. In the mid-15th century, the Château de Châteaudun became the property of comrade-in-arms and close friend of Joan of Arc Jean de Dunois, who tore down the old wing of the castle to construct the Sainte-Chapelle (a Holy Chapel designed to hold a relic, the Cross of Christ). After the Hundred Years’ War, the château was enhanced in Renaissance style to suit a more leisurely and luxurious way of life. The room decor became more refined, and large kitchens were added to prepare princely meals. On the castle’s attractive grounds, the unique hanging garden reflects a taste for the lavish. From the château’s outdoor terrace are stunning views of the Loire landscape.
Near the château is the old town of Châteaudun, a jumble of cobblestone streets and pedestrian streets enclosed within ancient ramparts. While strolling atmospheric lanes, visitors are delighted to discover many quaint half-timbered houses (mainly on Rue Saint-Lubin and Rue des Tuileries) and several historic churches, including the Eglise de la the Madeleine with a Romanesque facade. Tourists will also enjoy the town’s pleasant parks and the wide selection of shops and restaurants. Outside the medieval town, in the more modern area of Châteaudun (at 3 Rue Toufaire), is another interesting tourist attraction, the Musée des Beaux-Arts et d’Histoire Naturelle (Museum of Fine Arts and Natural History), which displays a diverse collection of archaeological objects, paintings, fine porcelain, and interior decor.
24 Abbaye de Fleury
Saint-Benoît-sur-Loire is famed for its great Benedictine abbey, the Abbaye de Fleury, which was founded in the 7th century. The abbey’s bright and beautifully proportioned basilica, built between 1067 and 1218, is one of the finest Romanesque churches in France. The most outstanding feature of the church is the porch tower, with its ornately carved capitals. Inside the 12th-century crypt are the relics of Saint Benedict, brought here from the Abbey of Monte Cassino (near Naples in Italy) in the late 7th century.
The monastic community of the Abbaye de Fleury was dissolved at the time of the French Revolution but was re-established in 1944 by a group of Benedictine monks. Today this working monastery has a community of 32 monks and nuns. Besides the spiritual aspect of the monastery, the Abbaye de Fleury has two artisanal workshops: the Atelier de Porcelaine, where monks handcraft porcelain plates, mugs, and bowls, and the Atelier de Confiserie, where specialty confections such as fruit candies, caramels, and honey bonbons are created. Although much of the abbey is reserved for use by the monastic community, the basilica is open to the public; visitors may spend time in prayer, take a guided tour, or attend a concert (classical music performances are occasionally held on Sunday afternoons).
25 Château de Villesavin
This 16th-century manor house is in the small village of Tour-en-Sologne, 10 kilometers away from the Château de Chambord. Built for Jean le Breton, the finance secretary of King Francis I, and later the residence of noble families, the Château de Villesavin was created by French and Italian master craftsmen and builders who had constructed grand royal palaces such as Chambord. Unlike many castles of the Loire Valley, the Château de Villesavin has been well maintained in its original state for four centuries and today is still a private home, owned by the Sparre family, who have kept the castle in the family for three generations.
The château’s 27-hectare property includes tranquil green space and pristine forests filled with many animals. Visitors can often see deer, rabbits, and squirrels. Families with kids will have fun at the castle’s Ferme des Petits, a miniature farm where chickens, cows, donkeys, goats, rabbits, and sheep are raised. Children are given a small bag of bread to feed the gentle farm animals. Other tourist attractions on the property include the Musée du Mariage, with a collection of vintage wedding dresses, and trousseau à la Chambre nuptials (bridal trousseau) items, and the Musée de Voitures Hippomobiles et d’Enfants (Museum of Hippomobiles and Children’s Cars), which displays a unique assortment of 19th-century horse-drawn vehicles and children’s cars that were pulled by dogs, goats, or sheep.
26 Château de Sully-sur-Loire
A remarkable piece of living French history, the Château de Brissac has been in the same family for more than twenty generations. It is currently owned by the 13th Duke of Brissac, descendants of Lord René de Cossé, who purchased the castle in 1502. The Marquis Charles-André and the Marquise Larissa de Brissac reside in the château along with their four children. Besides its prestigious heritage, the Château de Brissac has the distinction of being the tallest château in the Loire Valley, thanks to its seven stories and 204 rooms. The majestic castle is set in a landscaped park with Romantic-style gardens, many benches, and walking paths. The palatial interior features rooms with gilded ceilings, exquisite furniture, and Venetian chandeliers. One of the most delightful rooms in the castle’s 200-seat Belle Epoque opera house.
For those who’d like to feel like landed gentry for a few nights, the castle offers bed and breakfast accommodations. Guest rooms are decorated with authentic antique-style furnishings and have views of the park’s woodlands and meadows. The Château de Brissac also hosts many summertime events, as well as an Easter Egg Hunt on Easter Sunday and a Christmas market and holiday festivities in December.
Like the castles of fairy-tale imagination, the Château de Sully-sur-Loire has soaring towers and is encircled by wide moats that are filled with water. The imposing appearance reflects the original military purpose of the medieval château. When Maximilien de Béthune (the Duke of Sully) bought the property in the early 17th century, he added an artillery tower and defensive walls reinforced by canons to ensure an impenetrable fortress. The interior has been updated throughout the centuries and features a wonderful collection of paintings and tapestries. Especially interesting are the apartments of the Duke of Sully and his wife, and the Hall of Honour family portrait gallery. The château also has a large park, offering a peaceful retreat in nature.
27 Château de Brissac
A remarkable piece of living French history, the Château de Brissac has been in the same family for more than twenty generations. It is currently owned by the 13th Duke of Brissac, descendants of Lord René de Cossé, who purchased the castle in 1502. The Marquis Charles-André and the Marquise Larissa de Brissac reside in the château along with their four children. Besides its prestigious heritage, the Château de Brissac has the distinction of being the tallest château in the Loire Valley, thanks to its seven stories and 204 rooms. The majestic castle is set in a landscaped park with Romantic-style gardens, many benches, and walking paths. The palatial interior features rooms with gilded ceilings, exquisite furniture, and Venetian chandeliers. One of the most delightful rooms is the castle’s 200-seat Belle Epoque opera house.
For those who’d like to feel like landed gentry for a few nights, the castle offers bed and breakfast accommodations. Guest rooms are decorated with authentic antique-style furnishings and have views of the park’s woodlands and meadows. The Château de Brissac also hosts many summertime events, as well as an Easter Egg Hunt on Easter Sunday and a Christmas market and holiday festivities in December.
Often seen as simply a beach destination, Tunisia has a bucketful of surprising tourist attractions and things to do for those that venture off the sandy shores. This is North Africa wrapped up into one bite-sized package, with vast Sahara dunes, mammoth ancient ruins, and exotic cities that are home to a sprawling tangle of souks. Tunisia was Rome’s breadbasket, and the cultural riches the Romans left behind are more than enough reason to visit. But the history of Arab Empires has also bestowed the country with some of the region’s most beautiful examples of Islamic architecture.
When you’ve craned your neck at Kairouan’s minarets and played gladiator at El Djem, it’s time to head into the Sahara to sample the raw, empty beauty of the desert. The sun-soaked beaches of the Mediterranean coastline, fringed by palms and lapped by gentle waves, will still be waiting for you when you get back.
1 El Djem Amphitheater
The walls of the mighty Roman amphitheater of El Djem dwarf the surrounding modern town. This incredibly well preserved Roman relic is Tunisia’s big sightseeing highlight and one of the best examples of amphitheater architecture left standing in the world, reminding of Rome’s once-grand grip across North Africa. You can still walk the corridors under the arena, just like the gladiators did. Or, climb up to the top seating tiers and sit staring across the arena, imagining the battles that took place below.
If you’re looking for the picture-perfect beach escape, then the island of Djerba checks all the right boxes. The island town of Houmt Souk is the main point of interest off the beach, with an old town district that is a muddle of whitewashed houses. Houmt Souk’s shopping is an attraction in itself, with plenty of handicraft vendors for browsing and haggling opportunities off the beach. But it’s those sandy strips of shoreline out of town that is the island’s most popular highlight. Pristine and trimmed by date palms, the beaches are relaxing, get-away-from-it-all settings where summer daydreams are made.
Once Rome’s major rival, Carthage was the city of the seafaring Phoenicians forever memorialized in the Punic Wars. The atmospheric ruins of this ancient town now sit beside the sea amid the suburbs of Tunis, a warning that even the greatest cities can be reduced to rubble. The ruins are extensive but spread out, and if you’ve been lucky enough to visit ancient city sites such as Ephesus in Turkey or Volubilis in Morocco, which are well-preserved, Carthage can seem quite underwhelming at first. But these UNESCO World-Heritage-listed remnants are hugely important historically, and any tourist interested in North Africa’s ancient past shouldn’t miss a visit here.
4 The National Bardo Museum
Even non-museum fans can’t fail to be impressed at the massive haul of beautiful mosaics exhibited inside the Bardo. This is one of North Africa’s top museums, and it houses one of the world’s most important mosaic collections, all curated beautifully. It’s a showcase of the dazzling, intricate artistry of the Roman and Byzantine eras, with pieces cherry-picked from every major archaeological site in Tunisia. If you only have one day in Tunisia’s capital, Tunis, this museum should be high up on your to-do list
5 Sidi Bou Said
impossibly cute, and amazingly photogenic, Sidi Bou Said is a clifftop village of petite dimensions that seem to have fallen off an artist’s canvas. Unsurprisingly, artists have feted this little hamlet for decades. The whitewashed alleyways, wrought-iron window frames, and colorful blue doors are Tunisian village architecture at their finest, while the Mediterranean backdrop is the cherry on top. This is a place to while away a lazy afternoon, simply soaking up the laid-back atmosphere and maybe indulging in a spot of shopping at one of the many local artisans and handicraft stalls.
6 Grand Erg Oriental
Tunisia’s vast Sahara covers much of the country’s interior, and the most beautiful corner of the desert is the field of sand dunes known as the Grand Erg Oriental. These poetically beautiful dunes are a surreal and gorgeous landscape of huge waves, shaped by the ever-shifting desert sands. For many visitors, this is an adventure playground for riding dune buggies and camel treks, but nothing tops the simple pleasure of sitting atop one of these mammoth sand mountains and watching the sunset over the Sahara.
7 Bulla Regia
Tunisia has no shortage of Roman ruins, but Bulla Regia near Tabarka is the country’s most interesting and intriguing site. Here, the Roman inhabitants coped with the harsh summer climate by ingeniously building their villas underground, which has left the city houses incredibly well preserved today. For history lovers, this is a unique opportunity to walk through actual Roman houses, with their walls still intact. It’s a glimpse of the residential life of the ancient world that you often don’t see.
With mosques, madrassas, and tombs aplenty, Kairouan has more than its fair share of monuments as the fourth most important city for those of the Muslim faith. The Arabic architecture here is truly inspiring, and the skyline is full of skinny minarets and bulky domes. But it’s probably the back alleys of the city’s medina that steal the show. With narrow, maze-like lanes lined with crumbling colorful houses, Kairouan’s old town has an enchanting, lost-in-time atmosphere that is a true highlight of a visit here.
9 Sousse Medina
Overlooked by the mighty fortifications of the Ribat and Kasbah, the medina in Sousse just begs to be explored. This lovely old town district is a warren of looping lanes, rimmed by whitewashed houses, and a shopping paradise with a tempting selection of ceramics, leatherwork, and metalwork on display. Away from the stalls along the bustling souk streets, the quiet and rambling back alleys, dusted in white and blue, are a charming place to dive in and sample local life.
10 Chott el Djerid
The moonscape surroundings of the Chott el Djerid are a storybook panorama brought to life; filled with shimmering mirages on the horizon and jigsaw puzzle pieces of blindingly white cracked land underfoot. This sprawling salt pan (most easily reached on a day trip from the desert town of Tozeur) is a desolate and otherworldly scene that wows all who visit with its stark and brutal beauty. A sightseeing trip here proves that nature produces much weirder landscapes than you could ever imagine.
Hammamet is all about the beach. This is Tunisia’s top sun-and-sea resort; a dreamy place dotted with pristine white buildings set beside a bright blue sea. The relaxing charms of this town woo all who come to sunbathe on the soft, white sand, with off-the-beach pursuits usually being nothing more strenuous than gentle strolls and a spot of shopping in the restored old town souks. It’s a no-stress kind of place that sums up the pleasures of Tunisia in one pretty package.
12 Monastir Ribat
One of Tunisia’s most photographed buildings and a film star to boot, the Ribat in Monastir is a bulky walled and exceptionally well-preserved fort. Looming over the harbor, the Ribat was originally part of a string of forts that protected the coastline, but today is one of the few still standing. Its defensive purposes may have long since faded, but this golden-stoned relic is now one of Tunisia’s most recognizable landmarks (thanks to it featuring in a few famous movies), and today, tourists scramble up into its bastion tower, rather than soldiers.
Nevada’s amazing landscapes are often overshadowed by the glitter and glitz of its biggest city, Las Vegas. While this is a city you won’t want to miss, Nevada is a state of incredible natural diversity, with plenty of great places to visit, scenic drives, and wonderful opportunities for outdoor activities. National parks and recreation areas provide outstanding terrain for hiking, biking, climbing, horseback riding, and fishing. You can even find ski hills in the high mountains. Be sure to venture beyond the cities and towns and get lost in Nevada’s stunning natural areas to enjoy all the state has to offer.
1 Las Vegas
Considered the most entertainment filled two and a half miles in the entire world, the Las Vegas Strip glitters and glows with massive resorts, hotels, theaters, restaurants, and gardens. This famous portion of Las Vegas Boulevard, running from the Mandalay Bay Hotel to the Treasure Island Hotel, is what most visitors come to the city to see and experience. This is where the huge resorts, like Paris, New York, New York, The Bellagio, The Venetian, and Caesar’s Palace are located. Lit up at night, The Strip shows up as one of the brightest spots on earth when seen from space.
Also worth seeing is Fremont Street in old downtown Las Vegas. Draped with a canopy of LED lights, the light show here in the evening, known as the Fremont Street Experience, is a must-do if you have time.
2 Hoover Dam
Built during the Great Depression as a way to provide jobs, Hoover Dam is a marvel of modern engineering. The 726-foot-high dam contains Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States, and provides hydroelectric power to much of Nevada, Arizona, and California. Built on the Nevada and Arizona state line, the dam is just a 45-minute drive from the center of Las Vegas, or a short helicopter flight. You can walk out onto the dam for spectacular views over the edge, or look out over Lake Mead. Tours of the Hoover Dam Power Plant are also available.
3 Lake Tahoe
The sparkling blue water of Lake Tahoe, surrounded by often snow-capped mountains, is one of the most beautiful sites in Nevada. This 22-mile-long freshwater lake, high in the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the Nevada and California border, is a popular year-round destination. In summer, most visitors come here to enjoy the beautiful beaches, hit some of the spectacular hiking trails, or camp at one of the many campgrounds in the area. In winter, families and powder hounds from across the US come here to hit the slopes at the ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe area. Any time of year, you can enjoy the scenery on a lake-side scenic drive. Several towns around the lake provide good bases for exploring the region.
Lake Tahoe is about a three-hour drive from San Francisco, and under five hours from Yosemite National Park. From Reno, you can reach the north end of the lake in about 45 minutes.
4 Lake Mead National Recreation Area
On the shores of Lake Mead and Lake Mohave, Lake Mead National
Recreation Area encompasses some spectacular scenery and offers
convenient access points and a variety of services for enjoying the lake
and surroundings. This huge area, encompassing approximately 1.5
million acres, provides opportunities for beaching, boating, hiking,
camping, and much more on the shorelines and in the surrounding
mountains and canyons.
The most popular section is Boulder Basin on Lake Mead, just north of Hoover Dam. Boulder Beach is a popular place for a swim or to set up a lawn chair on a hot day. Campgrounds in this area offer a beautiful setting for both tents and RVs. Also in this area is the Historic Railroad Trail, where hikers can walk along the old railway bed and through the old tunnels. If you are looking for information, stop by the Alan Bible Visitor Center in this area, about 40 minutes from Las Vegas.
5 Valley of Fire State Park
Valley of Fire State Park is one of the must-see natural areas in the state. Dramatic rock formations and sweeping vistas of colorful stone waves create some of Nevada’s most dynamic landscapes. Just an hour’s drive northeast of Las Vegas, it’s worth making the trip out here. If you are only interested in a scenic drive, roads through the park provide stunning views of the landscape. However, one of the best ways to experience the park is from the hiking trails. These hikes are generally short and easy, but take you through some incredible scenery, including slot canyons, rock walls covered in hieroglyphs, old filming locations, and other spectacular sites. You’re also likely to spot some wildlife. Camping is popular at Valley of Fire, and the campgrounds are strategically placed in beautiful settings among the rock formations
6 Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area
Located just outside of Las Vegas, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is one Nevada’s most popular hiking areas. The massive red rock formations jutting high above the Mojave Desert are the most striking feature, but the area covers a diverse range of sites and geological formations. Box canyons, mountains, and a look at the Keystone Thrust are some of the highlights. A 13-mile scenic drive through the park offers a look at some of the sites, but hiking trails in Red Rock Canyon offer the best access to all of the major sites. Rock climbing, road biking, mountain biking, horseback riding, picnicking, and wildlife viewing are also popular activities here. The conservation area has one developed campground with primitive facilities.
Reno is the second largest city in Nevada after Las Vegas in terms of population, but is still home to only approximately 250,000 residents. However, for a small city, it has a surprising number of impressive attractions and events for tourists. The city hosts the annual National Championship Air Races, The Great Reno Balloon Race, and the Hot August Nights car convention, along with a number of other popular annual celebrations. Reno is also home to the National Automobile Museum and several other interesting museums.
8 Great Basin National Park
In east-central Nevada, near the border with the state of Utah, Great Basin National Park protects nearly 80,000 acres of basin and range landscape. The park is dominated by the 13,063-foot Wheeler Peak and underlain by the Lehman Caves. It also protects Bristle cone Pines that are nearly 5,000 years old. The park offers a number of developed camping sites and a wide range of backpacking opportunities. The Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive is a must do as is the Baker Creek Road – but not in the winter. The park lies next to the massive Highland Ridge Wilderness area.
9 Burning Man
This pop-up city in the desert is a community based, annual event held in the Black Rock Desert, about three hours north of Reno. This unique event focuses on art and self-expression in many forms, and attendees are expected to be involved rather than merely spectators. The people and the atmosphere of sharing and community are what make the experience.
Held in late August and early September, Burning Man began in 1986 and has grown considerably over the years. Today, tens of thousands of people attend. Attendance levels are capped each year and tickets sell out
10 Camomile Canyon
Camomile Canyon lies at the heart of Nevada’s Ruby Mountains in Elke Country. The Camomile Canyon Road is an officially designated National Forest Road that winds around the base of the 11,387-foot Ruby Dome. The road climbs up into a spectacular 8,800-foot-high canyon that was carved long ago by glaciers. During the summer, the alpine meadows explode with wildflowers. The area is also known for its waterfalls and wildlife, with bighorn sheep, mountain goats, and a variety of birdlime frequenting the hills and meadows. The lower region of Camomile Canyon is open year-round, but the upper section is buried under snow for several months in the winter. Popular things to do here, apart from the scenic drive, include camping, fishing, and hiking.
Long overlooked as a travel destination, Nebraska is a state of warm-heated people, interesting natural attractions, and inviting cities. Lincoln, the state capitol, and Omaha are the two main population centers. Each of these are worth a visit, with old historic areas to wander through and vibrant cultural scenes to enjoy.
The Nebraska landscape also holds some unique sights for those who take the time to explore it, from Chimney Rock to the beautiful scenery of the Sand hills.
Don’t just pass it by as you travel across Interstate 80, stop for a
while and explore the state with our list of the top attractions in
1. Omaha’s Henry Dourly Zoo and Aquarium
Although zoos are rarely the most exciting thing to see or do in a state, the Henry Dourly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha is an exception. This unique facility is home to the world’s largest indoor desert, the largest indoor jungle, and the largest nocturnal exhibit.
The aquarium exhibits are engaging and offer opportunities to touch stingrays as they swim by or ride a camel.
After a long day of walking, the Dozier IMAM 3D theater is a great place to enjoy a feature, with a constantly changing line-up of movies. You can also grab a bite to eat, and let the kids play on the lighthouse at the replica Alaska seaport area called Glacier Bay Landing.
2. Old Market in Omaha
The Old Market is a terrific spot to shop, dine, and experience a
glimpse of what Omaha would have looked like in its early days.
Cobblestone streets and renovated old buildings from the early part of
the 19th century give the area a quaint and historical feel.
Housed in these interesting buildings are a diverse set of retail establishments ranging from galleries to coffee shops and fine dining establishments. The Old Market is right downtown and is within easy walking distance to many of Omaha’s other tourist attractions, including the Durham Museum and the Bob Kerry Pedestrian Bridge.
3. Strategic Air and Space Museum, Ash land
Fans of aircraft and aviation technology will be impressed by the extensive collections on show at this museum in Ash land, mid way between Omaha and Lincoln. First opened in 1959 as the Strategic Air Command, the museum grew over the years and in 1998 moved to its current location in a modern facility. A few years later, the name was changed to the Strategic Air and Space Museum.
The museum is spread over 300,000 square feet and showcases all
manner of airplanes, spacecraft, and special exhibits that change on a
regular basis. Also on site is a planetarium that features seasonal
astronomy shows and motion rides (for an additional fee) that simulate
the feeling of being in a helicopter and riding a roller coaster.
A visit here can be combined with a trip to see the Lee G. Simmons Conservation Park & Wildlife Safari.
4. Chimney Rock National Historic Site
Dating from 25 to 24 million years ago, the Chimney Rock formation
rises 480 feet above the surrounding countryside. This dramatic rock
spire was a noted landmark for pioneers heading westward in the early to
The landscape today looks much as it did when wagon trains crossed
this way during the great western migration. Visitors can get a sense of
what it must have felt like for the pioneers when they arrived here.
A visitor center on site provides information on the geology of the formation and the history of the Overland Trail.
5. Hay-market District in Lincoln
A lively atmosphere, great restaurants, and restored historical buildings all combine to make the Hay market area a fun place to visit at any time of year. Visitors can wander the inlaid brick streets and peer in windows of eclectic shops, or stop in for coffee and snacks at any of the numerous cafés and restaurants. The restored water tower and town clock are a couple of the sightseeing attractions in this area.
While there is always something going on in the Hay market District, it can be particularly busy on days when the local university sports teams have games scheduled.
6. Scots Bluff National Monument
This imposing natural structure can be seen from far and wide across
the Nebraska prairies. It was used as a landmark by Native Americans who
inhabited the area, and later by travelers who passed by here in the
mid-19th century, including pioneers making their way west on the
California, Oregon, and Mormon Trails. On the weekends, rangers dress in
period costume and roam various areas of the park providing insights
and stories from the past.
This 3000-acre national monument was first founded in 1919, and many
improvements to the area have been made over the years. A winding road
leads up to the higher elevations and features three tunnels.
Hiking trails lead to great viewpoints out over the surrounding countryside. A popular option is to take the summit shuttle to the top and then hike back down.
7. Golden Spike Tower in North Platte
The Golden Spike Tower offers a bird’s-eye view out over the Bailey Yard, officially certified as the world’s largest railroad yard. More than 150 trains and 10,000 rail cars a day enter this yard.
The tower rises eight stories and is fully enclosed in glass. Beyond
the Bailey Yard, the full expanse of the Platte river valley unfolds as
visitors look out from the viewing area.
At the base of the tower is the visitor center where all manner of Union Pacific memorabilia is showcased. The Golden Spike Tower is just on the outer edge of North Platte.
8. Indian Cave State Park
Beautiful and intriguing hieroglyphsshowing nature scenes and wildlife line the walls of the cave at this state park. The picturesque setting of the park on the banks of the Missouri River also makes it a popular destination for camping and hiking.
Two campgrounds, Hack berry Hollow and Ash Grove, have 274 combined sites available, which include 134 RV sites with 30 amp electrical service. Sites can be reserved online.
Twenty-two miles of diverse and interesting hiking trails wind their way around the park and take in some of the highlights, including a ridge and the Lincoln Bend Wetlands. Indian Cave State Park is just a short drive southeast of Brownsville
Certainly one of Nebraska’s quirkier attractions, Carcinogen duplicates the more familiar Stonehenge, but is constructed with automobiles. Thirty-nine cars arranged in all different positions jut out of the prairie grasslands and so perfectly replicate the real Stonehenge that the summer solstice event happens here in the same manner as it does in England.
Although Carcinogen is the main attraction, there are also a number of other unique works on site. In one area, a metal fish is shown emerging from the ground. This is a free attraction.
Location: 3 miles north of Alliance, on Highway 87
10. A Scenic Driving Tour of the Sand hills
The Sand hills region of Nebraska is a paradise for nature lovers. Covering one quarter of the state, it consists of dunes, some reaching 300 feet high, along with grasslands and shallow lakes.
A driving tour through the Sand hills, often described as one of the most scenic in the USA, is a great way to explore the area. Highway 2 winds its way through the landscape, taking visitors on a 272-mile route past an array of interesting natural and man-made sights, including the quirky Carcinogen. Most visitors start the drive in Grand Island and end in Alliance.
Outdoor enthusiasts, especially bird lovers, will want to make sure they plan a visit to Valentine National Wildlife Preserve. This spectacular refuge located within the Sand hills region is home to thousands of waterfowl who make their homes in the shallow lakes spread across the area.
11. Ride the Cowboy Trail
If you have an inner desire to become the lonely cowboy making his
way across the Great Plains, then the Cowboy Trail is for you. This
195-mile trail follows an old railway line as it traverses the northern
part of the state.
You’ll likely have the trail and the wide open skies all to
yourself-the trail is lightly used. Small towns are located along the
way, so you can restock on basic supplies or get a room for the night.
The trail is open to walkers, mountain bikers, and horseback riders.
It’s best to travel from west to east to ensure you have the prevailing
winds at your back. Be sure to check the website for trail conditions
before heading out.
12. The Archway
As you drive along Interstate 80 near Kearney, you’ll soon see something stretching over the highway. This unique structure is appropriately called The Archway and is a museum dedicated to travelers who have passed this way before you.
You’ll find interactive displays related to the local Native Americans, fur trappers, pioneers, and railroaders among many others. In addition to the displays in the Archway, you’ll find a replica sod house, a fun Trail Blaze Maze for the kids, and a pleasant lake with picnic facilities.
A Nebraska Tourism office is also on site to help with trip planning throughout the state.
Located in the Midwest, Illinois is home to Chicago, the third-largest city in the country as well as a major sports and cultural center. Illinois has many smaller industrial cities, bountiful natural resources, and intense agricultural productivity, especially in its central region. Here are the best places to visit in Illinois.
Springfield, Illinois is the state capital, and it is renowned as the birthplace of America’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. Much of the tourism in the city focuses on this great man, and interested people may visit the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Lincoln’s Tomb, and the law offices where he practiced before becoming president in 1861.
The Dana-Thomas House is widely visited, as it is the most complete example of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture. The city is set on the plains near the winding Sangamon River, and the Adams Wildlife Center allows residents and visitors to get in touch with Springfield’s natural surroundings with its 40 wooded acres. Springfield is a stop on the famous Route 66, and there are diners along with it in retro style. The Hoogland Center for the Arts is a popular venue, and it presents programs of ballet, theater, symphony, and orchestra. Things to Do in Springfield
Chicago is the third-largest city in the United States and has a wealth of exciting opportunities that draw millions of visitors every year. Chicago sits on the western edge of Lake Michigan, and its huge harbor system includes beaches and beachfront parks. Parkland is an important city feature; there are over 570 parks, the centerpiece being Lincoln Park, an 1200-acre space.
Chicago has two major league baseball teams, as well as teams in the NFL, the NHL, and the NBA. Lovers of arts and culture come to see its collections of visual art and to listen to the Chicago Symphony. They can also enjoy improvisational comedy at one of the many city hotspots and to hear jazz, blues, and soul music. The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the oldest and largest in the country and has collections of internationally famous artworks, including the Old Masters, impressionists, and American art.
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3.Places to Visit in Illinois: Rockford
Rockford is the second-largest city in the state of Illinois outside of the Chicago area and is often dubbed “The Forest City” due to its 20,000 acres of green space. Four rivers run through Rockford, there are several golf courses, and Rock Cut State Park is a haven for boaters and campers who enjoy its pristine lakes and hiking trails. Rockford is proud of its history, which visitors can learn about at Midway Village, a pioneer village with costumed docents and historical exhibits.
The Burpee Museum of Natural History is dedicated to an even earlier regional history, and it has a terrific dinosaur exhibit that includes a complete T-Rex skeleton.
Evanston, Illinois has a charming downtown where you will find a great selection of theaters, music venues, and restaurants. Home to Northwestern University, Evanston is a stylish suburb north of Chicago where you will also find the historic Grosse Point Lighthouse, built-in 1873.
The lighthouse was put in place in the aftermath of several shipwrecks by watercraft running onto the shallow shoals of Lake Michigan en route to Chicago. It was, for its working life, the brightest and lead lighthouse in the area. On a sunny day, take the kids to Lighthouse Park, a green space with a children’s playground and a beach with picnic sites. Find more weekend getaways from Chicago.
Bloomington is the 12th largest city in Illinois and has a sister city, Normal, which shares in its civic decision-making. The area was first used as an encampment for the Kickapoo Native Americans until Euro-American settlers reached the rivers and groves of the city in 1820 and put down roots there. Bloomington-Normal is a municipality with many faces.
Outdoorsy people love its forty-four different parks and its three golf courses. Lovers of the arts can enjoy theater, the symphony orchestra, and the city’s ballet corps. The area has a small but fascinating zoo, which has some of the rarest wild cats in existence: the Amur Leopard and the Sumatran Tiger. A huge indoor rock climbing park is a great favorite amongst both visitors and locals.
6.Places to Visit in Illinois: Galena
Galena, Illinois is a small city of under 4,000 inhabitants in the most northwestern corner of the state. More than 85% of this historic town is a National Historic District, and it is renowned for its architecture and its long mining history. Before Europeans settled here in 1821, Native Americans mined the area for over a thousand years, and they brought the mineral galena, a lead oxide, out of the earth.
Settlers continued to mine, and for the sake of commerce, Galena became a major steamboat port on the Mississippi River. Now visited for its history and its beautiful homes, Galena has a stunning main street featuring six blocks of French Colonial, Greek Revival, and Italianate homes, one of which belonged to Ulysses S. Grant, the 14th president of the United States. Surrounded by rolling hills and lush valleys, Galena is a wonderful place to visit or live.
Quincy, Illinois is situated on the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River. Dogwood-lined streets and fine architecture, much of it in traditional German-style, make this city a lovely place to visit. Quincy has a rich history; it was a safe haven for Mormons leaving behind the persecution they faced in the eastern states and was a major stopping point on the Underground Railway, which helped African American people flee the south and slavery. Like many cities on the Mississippi, Quincy has a heritage of blues music, but it also has an annual film festival, an excellent opera company, and a fine theater.
Alton, Illinois is only fifteen miles north of St. Louis, Missouri and is considered a part of the Greater St. Louis Metropolitan Area. Known for its limestone bluffs along the Mississippi River, the city and its surrounding area offer lovely drives along the Great Rivers Scenic Route. Archeological artifacts of the city’s prehistory can be viewed in the National Great Rivers Historic Museum, and outside, a prehistoric painting of a Piasa bird can be seen on a cliff face.
Alton is the hometown of jazz musician Miles Davis, and it was the site of the final debate between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas in 1858. From its humble beginnings as a Mississippi ferry-crossing, Alton has grown to be an important center for the arts, particularly theater.
Elmhurst, Illinois is a western suburb of Chicago with a population of approximately 45,000 people. It is a center for the arts with a fine art museum that offers classes to adults and children. It also has a symphony orchestra and theater groups and performances.
The Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art draws many visitors; its focus is on cutting and polishing stones and displaying them as works of art. The city of Elmhurst is a terrific place to go shopping with a downtown core offering nearly three hundred unique merchants. Plenty of family fun can be had at the indoor trampoline park in town.
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, was born on February 12, 1809, in Hodgenville, Kentucky. Largely self-taught, he passed the Illinois Bar and began his career as a lawyer in Springfield, Illinois under the tutelage of his wife’s cousin, John T. Stuart. Before and after his terms as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Lincoln and his partner had a successful law practice in Springfield, and it was in this town that he married and had four children.
Abraham Lincoln was elected President on November 6, 1860, and led the country through the Civil War. On April 14, 1865, he was assassinated by a Confederate sympathizer in a Washington, D.C. theater, and his body was brought home by train to Springfield at the request of his wife. Lincoln’s Tomb is in Oakridge Cemetery and is open to visitors year-round.
11.Places to Visit in Illinois: Anderson Gardens
The Anderson Gardens in Rockford, Illinois were inspired by visits Rockford businessman John R. Anderson took to Japan and to the Portland, Oregon Japanese Garden. He and a Japanese architect, Hoichi Kurisu, designed the Japanese garden, which started as a private venture on Anderson’s property.
Considered the finest Japanese garden in the United States, it is designed in the fashion of a 13th century strolling garden with numerous water features, winding paths, rock formations, and a bevy of Japanese maples, cloud pines, rhododendrons, azaleas, and magnolias. Fish, ducks, and minks are part of the background of the garden, which is now a not-for-profit organization with all funds going towards charitable works. It is a perfect place to leave the stress of the world behind and where you can return to serenity and peace.
The Riverwalk in Naperville, Illinois is a peaceful and scenic place to stroll along the west branch of the DuPage River. This 1.75-mile pathway is paved with brick, and it is beautifully landscaped and dotted with fountains, bridges, sculptures, artwork, and meeting and event spaces.
A café with an outdoor patio overlooking the river serves pub-style food and ice cream. Many retail shops are located along the Riverwalk, as is the popular Centennial Beach and Centennial Park’s skateboarding/inline skating facility. Visitors may rent kayaks and paddleboats or take children to the Jaycee playground. Midway along the Riverwalk is a bell tower, the carillon of which lyrically chimes every hour on the hour.
The Morton Arboretum is a world-class facility in Lisle, Illinois in the Chicago metropolitan area. Set over 1700 acres, the arboretum has sixteen miles of hiking trails and other paved routes for driving or cycling. Its many offerings include a fragrance garden, a ground cover garden, and a maze.
A children’s garden helps introduce youngsters to arboreal conservation. Morton Arboretum has extensive educational programming for people of all ages, including cooperative programs with local colleges and universities. The Sterling Morton Library has over 27,000 works about trees, botany, and nature. The gardens have a gift shop and a café, and visitors can rent bicycles to explore the paved trails
14.Starved Rock State Park
Starved Rock State Park is the most visited attraction in the state of Illinois. Less than one hundred miles from Chicago, this National Historic Landmark is alive with beauty. There are canyons, tall, tree-topped bluffs overlooking the Illinois River, and thirteen miles of hiking trails to bring visitors closer to the natural charm of the park. Fourteen of the eighteen canyons have waterfalls, and guided hikes through these canyons are available and are the safest way to explore.
The park has a guest lodge and a campground while a small camp store serves the needs of overnight visitors. Day visitors may use the picnicking areas, which have several shelters, drinking water, picnic tables, and restroom facilities. From late December until March, Starved Rock State Park becomes a center for viewing migratory bald eagles; thousands of them flock to the park each year.
15.Shawnee National Forest
Shawnee National Forest is located in the southernmost part of Illinois in the rolling hills of the Ozarks and the Shawnee Hills. It is a variety of eco-systems: unique rock formations, oak and hickory forests, thriving wetlands, swamps draped with cypress trees, prairies liberally sprinkled with wildflowers, and the meandering Ohio River.
Over its 268,000 acres are miles upon miles of hiking trails that welcome leashed dogs and horseback riders. Primitive campgrounds are available, as are simple cabins. Visitors to the park can enjoy trail walking, picnicking, fishing, or spotting wildlife, which includes large herds of deer. There are a Visitor Center and extensive educational programming for all ages.
16.Places to Visit in Illinois: Peoria
Peoria, Illinois is a city situated on the Illinois River. It is named for the Peoria Indians and was founded in 1691 by the French explorer Henri de Tonti. This lovely riverfront city boasts 9,000 acres of parkland, and it serves as the headquarters for the American machinery giant, Caterpillar, Inc., which employs 93,000 people.
Visitors to the city often head directly to the Caterpillar Visitor’s Center, which shows examples of its giant earth-moving equipment and has excellent hands-on simulators. Other visitors are drawn to the Peoria Zoo, which has a remarkable African Savannah section or to the annual art fair that takes place along the waterfront. Things to Do in Peoria
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17.Fabyan Forest Preserve
When Colonel George Fabyan and his wife Nelle bought significant acreage in northern Illinois, they had a home built for them by Frank Lloyd Wright, a home that after their deaths became the Fabyan Villa Museum. Col. Fabyan also had a Japanese garden constructed, which today is open to the public, and it is a peaceful and quiet refuge from everyday life.
In the 1920s, the Colonel had a large Dutch windmill moved from its original site and onto his land; one of the few wind-powered windmills in the United States, it is built from cypress wood and dates back to the 1850s. Around the windmill is parkland ideal for picnics. The entire Fabyan estate is on the banks of the Fox River and adjacent to the Fox River Trail, and so it is a wonderful destination for fishing, walking, and cycling.
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18.Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site
A World Heritage Site, Cahokia Mounds is the largest and most complex archeological site in the United States. It is directly across the Mississippi River from St. Louis and was once a pre-Columbian Native American city from c. 600-1400 AD when it was home to the Mississippian people.
At its peak in the mid-1200s, Cahokia was home to more than 40,000 people, a population greater than mid-1200s London, England. The site is characterized by huge mounds that had significance to the people who lived here; a life-size village replica can be explored, and the excellent museum has an informative video, original artifacts, and information about the daily lives of the inhabitants of Cahokia. A self-guided audio tour of the site is available, and there are walking trails and a gift shop.
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19.Mississippi Palisades State Park
A palisade is a long, steep cliff, the sort that you see along riverbanks, and at this 2,500-acre park in northwestern Illinois, they run along the shores of the Mississippi at its confluence with the Apple River. The park is rich in Native American history, and a wonderful place to see Illinois wildlife up close.
There are waterfowl, shorebirds, wild turkeys, and pileated woodpeckers; fishermen generally catch crappie, carp, and bass. On the fifteen miles of trails, visitors may run into white-tailed deer, badgers, woodchucks, squirrels, minx, and foxes. The park is dotted with colorful wildflowers and has picnic sites and opportunities for rock climbing. It is also a seasonal favorite of cross-country skiers.
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20.Matthiessen State Park
Matthiessen State Park was named for the prominent industrialist and philanthropist Frederick William Matthiessen who bought the lands in the late 19th century. Over 1700 acres, the park features canyons and streams with picturesque waterfalls, all of which direct their flow towards the Vermillion River.
Colorful sandstone walls, tall bluffs, and forests of bluffs and cedar make this destination popular with hikers who wish to enjoy nature’s bounty. Frogs, toads, and salamanders populate the streams, and flying squirrels, white-tailed deer, indigo buntings, cliff swallows, and red-tailed hawks are in large number throughout the park. There are five miles of hiking trails with extensive stairs, which make them inadvisable for those with mobility issues. There are another nine miles of mountain biking and equestrian trails. Near the park entrance, there are restrooms and picnic tables.
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Grant Park, a 319-acre green space in the heart of Chicago’s main financial district, The Loop, is a city centerpiece with wide offerings to all Chicagoans and visitors. It is the site of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum of Natural History, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium. In the park’s center stands one of the largest fountains in the world, the Clarence Buckingham Memorial Fountain, which has water displays every twenty minutes and a light show every night from 9:00 pm until 10:00 pm. Home to many music and food festivals, Grant Park also has an ice skating trail, wall climbing facilities, several play areas for children, two marinas, and a skate park designed for use by skateboarders, inline skaters, and BMX bikers. Baseball diamonds and tennis courts round out the park’s many attractions.
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22.Tunnel Hill State Trail
Tunnel Hill State Trail is a cycling trail in the bed of an old railway line and was created in the late 20th century using crushed limestone for its surface. Regular bikes will have a hard time getting purchase on this surface, and mountain bikes or hybrids are recommended. The trail is very level and goes for some time through an unlit tunnel, so visitors should bring their own method of illumination.
The forty-five-mile trail takes riders from Harrisburg to Karnak and is very scenic, offering colorful wildflowers, Illinois prairie, oak forests, and a variety of wildlife, including red foxes, cottontail rabbits, raccoons, deer, and opossums. A bounty of songbirds makes for pleasant listening as you cycle. The trail has no services, so visitors are advised to bring in their own food and water.
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Going on a fun-filled vacation with your entire family is the best way to relieve yourself of the stress and pressure that you have been experiencing at work. It is also a great way for you to spend quality time with each other and bond like you never have before. If you are planning on spending a few days in a new place why not plan a visit to Idaho?
When you hear the word Idaho you probably think about potatoes right away. Idaho is indeed known as the Potato State of America owing to the fact that it is the country’s biggest supplier of potatoes. Aside from potatoes, however, there are so many things to explore and enjoy in Idaho.
When planning a trip to the state make sure to include the below top 10 tourist attractions in Idaho.
1: Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve
If you crave outdoor adventure then you have to make this one of your first stops. There is nothing more scenic and magical than the sight of a vast ocean of lava flows that were formed during eight volcanic eruptions sometimes 15,000 to 20,000 years ago.
Today it is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Idaho. Spending a day here would mean a day of hiking and exploring the Craters of the Moon Wilderness including the Lava Trees and the Echo Crater.
2: Sun Valley
This is Idaho’s most popular ski lodges and offers you some of the most fun and most exciting winter activities you can ever have. Known as the Nordic skier’s paradise, Sun Valley provides skiing enthusiasts with the greatest cross-country skiing in the country. You and your family can also enjoy snowshoeing activities through some breathtakingly stunning terrains.
3: Shoshone Falls
Prepare to be awed by this spectacular body of water that is known as one of the best natural wonders along the Snake River. Standing at 212 feet tall, Shoshone Falls is actually higher than the Niagara Falls. Make sure to have your cameras with you because you would not want to miss this once in a lifetime photo opportunity.
You and your family can also enjoy some recreational activities at the Dierkes Lake Complex including playgrounds, hiking trails, picnic areas as well as boating and swimming.
4: Yellowstone National Park
Established in 1872 as the country’s first national park, it is home to some of the most exotic flora and fauna in America. The majority of the world’s geysers are preserved here and in fact, it contains one-half of the world’s hydrothermal features.
Some of the fun activities that you can do here include day hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, fishing, picnicking and backcountry camping for the more seasoned adventurers.
5: Snake River Adventures
If you are after thrill, excitement and extreme adventure then you should book a day of some of the wildest fun that you can have at Snake River Adventures.
You can explore Hells Canyon by hopping on a Jet Boat Tour or if you are a fishing enthusiast you can charter a boat to go on a guided fishing trip on the river.
6: Coeur d’Alene
Idaho’s lakeside playground provides you and your family with a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities set in an incredibly scenic area. If you are looking for something that your kids can also enjoy like biking, trail hiking, and fun rides.
Take the wife shopping in the downtown area or play golf with your buddies. You will always find something exciting and interesting to do here at Coeur d’Alene.
7: Idaho Falls
Known as the region’s cultural destination, Idaho Falls offers tourists with an unforgettable experience. To enjoy stage plays, live acts and concerts you can visit the Colonial Theater and Civic Auditorium.
You can also take your kids to the Idaho Falls Zoo where they can get up close and personal with their extensive collection of animals and plants. There are so many things to see and do in Idaho Falls that involve recreation and relaxation for the entire family.
8: Bruneau Dunes State Park
f you love camping and roughing it up in the wild outdoors, make sure to spend a day or two at one of the country’s most visited parks. From biking, boating, climbing, hiking, and horseback riding, you and your family will have a great time bonding at the same time getting your much-needed workout.
9: Hells Canyon National Recreation Area
With 652,488 acres, Hells Canyon offers you a one-of-a-kind outdoor adventure. Here you can let your senses run wild and imaginations run free because of the area’s sheer natural beauty.
Take photographs of the scenic Hells Canyon, the deepest river gorge in the country, go on a world-class whitewater boating adventure, or go horseback riding and hiking.
10: Museum of Idaho
Culture vultures, history enthusiasts, and extremely curious kids will have a grand time at the Museum of Idaho.
With an extensive collection of artwork like the Carousels: Art and History in Motion as well as interactive displays that will truly spark the wonder and amazement in your children, this is definitely an attraction that you would not want to miss.