Great Destinations off the Beaten Path

For seasoned travelers, it all comes down to the thrill of discovery. Rich experiences of a lifetime await in these diverse spots that don’t appear on the typical bucket list.

Australian Urbanity

MelbourneVibrant Melbourne might not see the visitor traffic of Sydney, but it has all the attributes of a world-class city: a wealth of culture, charming streets to stroll, sophisticated restaurants, and a high-energy hipster buzz. Focus on music and shopping and you will come away loving this town. Plan your trip to coincide with one of the city’s many music festivals. You’ll discover great homegrown talent here. Boutiques brim with fashions produced by young Melbourne designers while craftgalleries showcase the work of regional artisans. Be sure to hit the Block Arcade, an extravaganza of 19th-century architectural design as well as retail bliss, with shop windows dressed to the nines. Come Sunday morning, hop on a tram and head to Camberwell Market, a patchwork of more than 350 vendors offering up all manner of collectibles. Besides being a shopping wonderland, Camberwell is about heart. Donations made at the gate go straight to charity, and since 1976, the market has raised some $9 million for the community.

Bhutan Mountains

Bhutan MountainsTucked into the eastern stretch of the Himalaya, the best way to explore Bhutan—one of the planet’s most well-preserved ecotourism areas—is to hike its wonderful terrain. With villages that hold on to tradition and monasteries that embody serenity. the bustle that has become Asia is held at bay. Make your home base in Phobjika, a lush high-country valley (10,000 feet) favored by the endangered black-necked cranes that winter here. Spend a morning at the Gangtey Gonpa monastery. where the skills of Bhutan’s greatest artisans are in full flower. Continue the thread of authenticity by staying at the 16-room, no TV, no Wi-Fi Dewachen Hotel, whose staff can lead you to the best treks. At the end of the day. unwind with a traditional hot stone bath and dinner at the hotel, where the chef can be relied upon for tasty traditional Bhutanese fare. Nutty red rice, which can be cultivated only in high-altitude locations, and chili peppers—you will see them drying on many a rooftop—are central to the cuisine.

Chilean Wine Country

Chilean Wine CountryBegin in thoroughly modern, skyscraper-studded Santiago, a capital city that has more than its fair share of charming boutique hotels. Dine out (late, as is the local custom), mindful that the fine Chilean wine being served will be spotlighted during the rest of your visit. Wine grapes have been grown here since the 16th century. Today some 250 vineyards flourish, producing fine wines that are more than holding their own at international wine competitions. Within a three-hour drive of Chile’s bustling capital is the postcard-pretty Colchagua Valley, where some of the country’s most prized grapes grow. Wine, though, is but one facet of the area’s offerings. Also on the list are exhilarating outdoor activities, from hiking and fishing to horseback riding and. yes. surfing. Thermal springs and spas add a delightfully indulgent note to a wine-country adventure.