leisure 05.30.03

Out of Town: 14 Cool Travel Websites

World's Top Hotel
Even if you have no plans in the immediate future to visit Dubai, it's always fun to have a look around Burj Al Arab, (pictured, left image) which many consider the best hotel in the world. It is certainly the most over-the-top.

The best one-day hikes around the world, with all the info you need: directions, trailhead, length, trail condition, and helpful notes.

Spafinder features day spas, spa vacations, and the "connoisseur collection", meaning the best around the world. How about a few days at the Capri Palace Hotel in Anacapri, Italy?

Ice Hotel
Though the Ice Hotel (pictured, bottom right) is, naturally, a wintertime proposition, you can go to its home, Jukkasjärvi in Sweden, during the summer months. What's there to do? Rafting, fishing, an ice exhibition, an ice cinema, and an Absolut ice bar.

While Porthole is a print magazine, the website has some good stuff for anyone considering a cruise. You'll find a page of links to all the major cruise lines, a news section, and their reader's choice awards. Last year's choice for best small ship was the Seabourn Legend, best megaship was the Grand Princess. The Radisson Seven Seas Cruises won for best luxury line.

Cook Islands
From Rarotonga to Pukapuka, this website will convince you that the Cook Islands are a genuine tropical paradise.

The British website Responsible Travel sounds more schoolmarmish than it is. It's actually a lively, content-rich site for those who want to travel on holidays "that give the world a break", as they say. Interesting reports right now on the Maldives and Poland's Bialowieza Forest, among others.

Gay and Lesbian
Most of the detailed articles on Out and About, the gay and lesbian travel specialists, cost $6.95, a fair price for the well-researched overviews of hotels, dining, cultural activities, and nightlife. The calendar section is useful for anyone on the gay event circuit.

Whitewater Rafting
For whitewater rafting in the American west, Oars has an appealing site, organized by states, each featuring photos, maps, videos, and itineraries. Oars also does specialty trips that focus on anything from yoga to wine to photography.

Condé Nast
Drawing on all those alluring travel pieces from Traveler and other CN mags, Concierge is a great browse for travel ideas, good deals, and destination guides.

Family Travel Forum
Essentially a membership site, Family Travel Forum is well worth the $3.95 per month or $9.95 for three months for the access it gives you to the library of information and discounts, all geared to travel with kids.

Treehouses of Hawaii
You can't leave your shoes outside your door, but Treehouses of Hawaii (pictured, top right) will give you a memorable experience as you sleep up in the trees, open-air. Under the right circumstances, as romantic as it gets.

If under no circumstances would sleeping in a treehouse seem romantic to you, you might prefer LuxuryLink, an auction site for luxe trips at sub-luxe prices.

Thorn Tree
Lonely Planet's travel forum, the Thorn Tree, lets you benefit from other traveler's experiences in Ulaanbaatar, Mahabalipuram, and the San Blas islands, and just about anywhere else you can name.
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