Travel

The Most Beautiful Places On the Bottom of the World

Penguins, glaciers, volcanoes, and more penguins.

David Merron Photography/Moment/Getty Images
David Merron Photography/Moment/Getty Images
David Merron Photography/Moment/Getty Images

It’s the beginning of summer in Antarctica. Penguin chicks are growing rapidly. Blue whales are migrating through. And while you’re not likely to get near them anytime soon, Antarctica’s recent tourism boom will someday reignite. When the ships start cruising again (it’s not mostly a place one can explore by land), you will absolutely want to book passage. In the meantime, here are 10 of the most stunning things waiting for you at the bottom of the world, from active volcanoes and towering glaciers to millions of penguins. Consider this incentive to invest in a very nice coat.

Westend61/Getty Images
Westend61/Getty Images
Westend61/Getty Images

Punta Arenas

Punta Arenas is the capital of the southern Chilean region known as Magallanes and Antarctica Chilena. This is likely the biggest city you’ll see on your trip through the region-the population is around 124,000-and serves as a bustling base camp for many Antarctica excursions. It is also a prime place to see the elusive Southern Lights while remaining planted in actual civilization.

Eduardo Fonseca Arraes/Moment/Getty Images
Eduardo Fonseca Arraes/Moment/Getty Images
Eduardo Fonseca Arraes/Moment/Getty Images

Ushuaia

Known as the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia, Argentina is likely where your Antarctica trip will begin. It’s a tourist destination in its own right, known for Tierra del Fuego National Park and an arts summit called Bienal de Arte Contemporáneo del Fin del Mundo: Biennial of Contemporary Art at the End of the World.

Momentaryawe.com/Moment/Getty Images
Momentaryawe.com/Moment/Getty Images
Momentaryawe.com/Moment/Getty Images

Drake Passage

Now that the temperatures are above freezing, the pack ice is melting enough for cruise ships to pass through Drake Passage, the main route down from South America. The crossing-legendarily one of the most treacherous on the planet-extends about 600 miles from the tip of Chile down to …

Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock
Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock
Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock

The South Shetland Islands

The South Shetland Islands lie to the north of the main Antarctic Peninsula, and take up a massive 1,424 square miles of mass (including, you may be surprised to hear, some volcanoes). In addition to being home to a number of scientific research stations, they’re popular among penguins, seals, and the cruise-ship passengers who enjoy viewing them. There are around a dozen islands, including …

Earth Trotter Photos/Shutterstock
Earth Trotter Photos/Shutterstock
Earth Trotter Photos/Shutterstock

Deception Island

Speaking of volcanoes, Deception Island-a straight-up caldera-is a long-time favorite among Antarctica visitors. A former whaling station, these days the Deception Island harbor plays hosts to tourists and scientists alike — it’s one of the places you’ll be able to leave your ship and see all those penguins from land, preferably from the comfort of a warm natural hot tub dug into the beach.

oversnap/E+/Getty Images
oversnap/E+/Getty Images
oversnap/E+/Getty Images

Antarctic Peninsula

The northernmost stretch of Antarctica-and thus the first part of the continent many visitors will see-is the mountainous Antarctic Peninsula. Keep an eye out for minke and humpback whales. And penguins, of course.

Kevin Schafer/Getty Images
Kevin Schafer/Getty Images
Kevin Schafer/Getty Images

South Orkney Islands

Northeast of the Antarctic Peninsula lie the South Orkney Islands. Frigid, windy, and generally inhospitable, these magnificent islands are home to two research stations, plus (wait for it…) chinstrap and Adéie penguins.

Artie Photography (Artie Ng)/Moment/Getty Images
Artie Photography (Artie Ng)/Moment/Getty Images
Artie Photography (Artie Ng)/Moment/Getty Images

Falkland Islands

About 250 miles south of Tierra del Fuego, the still-contested Falklands are a must-see on any Antarctica trip-especially for birdwatchers, who will find dozens of species of seabirds and five varieties of (yup) penguins amid their 4,700 square miles of landmass. Technically, you’re still in South America here: Ushuaia may be the southernmost South American city, but this is the southernmost South American anything.

David Merron Photography/Moment/Getty Images
David Merron Photography/Moment/Getty Images
David Merron Photography/Moment/Getty Images

South Georgia Island

Teeming with penguins and seals (both elephant and fur), South Georgia is even better-known for its pristine glaciers and fjords. It’s part of the same territory as a chain of smaller, less-trafficked islands to the southeast known as the South Sandwich Islands, which includes …

MZPHOTO.CZ/Shutterstock
MZPHOTO.CZ/Shutterstock
MZPHOTO.CZ/Shutterstock

Zavodovski Island

The South Sandwich Islands are, as a group, much less famous than the ever-popular South Georgia. But one of them, the Blue Planet-famous Zavodovski Island, is where you’ll find one of the largest penguin colonies anywhere in the world-around 1 million mated pairs of chinstrap penguins, huddles against the slopes of a volcano.Sign up here for our daily Thrillist email, get Next Flight Out for more travel coverage, and subscribe here for our YouTube channel to get your fix of the best in food/drink/fun.

Kastalia Medrano is Thrillist’s Travel Writer. You can send her travel tips at kmedrano@thrillist.com, and Venmo tips at @kastaliamedrano.

Travel

8 Suburbs Near Phoenix You Should Absolutely Visit

You could use a little space.

Discover Gilbert AZ
Discover Gilbert AZ
Discover Gilbert AZ

Phoenix is pretty great. There’s the burgeoning culinary scene, the diverse culture, the arts, of course, the sports, the great outdoors, and don’t forget about the more than 300 days of annual sunshine. We could really go on, and on, about how great this place is, but all of that greatness can blind you to all the excellence just outside it. The suburbs across The Valley are not to be missed. To encourage you to actually explore them, here’s what the best of ‘em have to offer.

Photo courtesy of Tempe Tourism
Photo courtesy of Tempe Tourism
Photo courtesy of Tempe Tourism

Tempe

Notably, Tempe is recognized as home to one of the largest universities in the country, Arizona State. But this Phoenix suburb is so much more than a college town, although it does add to its undeniable magic. Downtown Tempe plays hosts to epic arts festivals, dragon boat races, marathons and triathlons, and dozens of other events that all take place a short-distance from Tempe Town Lake, a two-mile long perennial reservoir and urban park that attracts cylicts, rowers, and active types. Break a sweat with a hike to the top of A Mountain and take in a panoramic sunset view. Or, just belly-up to the bar at one of Tempe’s innumerable craft breweries. Both are solid choices. And both can get you acquainted with this laidback Phoenix suburb.

Photo courtesy of Hotel Valley Ho
Photo courtesy of Hotel Valley Ho
Photo courtesy of Hotel Valley Ho

Scottsdale

Nearly half of Scottsdale’s land area is dedicated to open spaces and untamed desert. Outdoor activities like mountain biking, hiking, road cycling, horseback riding, and kayaking reign supreme here, and the city certainly leans toward an active, wellness-centered lifestyle. And while there’s no shortage of desert to explore, Scottsdale also claims some of the best spas in the world, award-winning restaurants, world-class golf courses, it’s the center stage for major events like luxury car auctions and sporting events, and it’s even got a bustling arts scene. This Phoenix suburb checks all of the boxes, really.

Photo by Lauren Topor Reichert
Photo by Lauren Topor Reichert
Photo by Lauren Topor Reichert

Gilbert

Not too long ago Gilbert was a sort of sleepy, far-away farm town. That’s certainly not the case anymore. Gilbert has grown exponentially, but its agricultural roots are still readily present in its personality and charm. Downtown Gilbert is home to dozens of restaurants and bars, most of which have a local, farm-to-table approach, naturally. And then there’s Agritopia, a friendly neighborhood with its very own shared garden and community spaces that include Epicenter and BARNONE, where you can order a wood-fired pizza, a can of experimental natural wine, and camp out under a canopy of trees in the open-air. It’s practically a utopia.

Mike Boening Photography
Mike Boening Photography
Mike Boening Photography

Cave Creek

A gateway to Horseshoe and Bartlett Lakes, Cave Creek’s position on the outskirts of Tonto National Forest makes it a primo spot for outdoor activities like biking and hiking and adventure by way of air balloon or horseback. Modern cowboys and gals can mosey over to The Buffalo Chip Saloon where bull riding and swing dancing are just part of a typical day. Additionally, Cave Creek has its own botanical garden, raptor rescue, and a gallery packed with person-sized crystals. And it’s all yours to discover.

Ade Russell/Flickr
Ade Russell/Flickr
Ade Russell/Flickr

Mesa

Point your GPS east and you’ll arrive in Mesa, Arizona’s third largest city. Whether you’re after outdoor adventure, looking to explore the arts and culture scene, or searching for locally made ciders and craft beer, Mesa has it all. There’s a hip, growing downtown area lined with storefronts, restaurants, theaters, and tasting rooms. And if you’re game for a little outdoor recreation, Mesa is your jumping-off point to scenic Sonoran Desert trails including Usery Mountain Regional Park, Lost Dutchman State Park, and San Tan Regional Park. Mesa is also just a short distance from The Salt River where you can cruise by wild horses and native wildlife via paddle board and Saguaro Lake is just up the road.

Experience Fountain Hills
Experience Fountain Hills
Experience Fountain Hills

Fountain Hills

At the center of this Phoenix suburb is an expansive urban park and monumental water fountain that tops out at 560-feet. The fountain in Fountain Hills is larger than the Washington Monument, and it’s three times as high as Old Faithful. Pack a picnic and spread out in the park for an afternoon where you can traverse the walkable paths, cycle around the waterway, or play a competitive bout of frisbee golf. If you swing more towards traditional golf, there’s a shortlist of premier golf courses to tee-off at. And like many of the Phoenix suburbs here, Fountain Hills is surrounded by wide-open desert and scenic vistas just waiting to be explored.

Camelback Ranch - Glendale
Camelback Ranch – Glendale
Camelback Ranch – Glendale

Glendale

Arizona sports teams including the Coyotes and Cardinals have home turf advantage in Glendale. Over the years Glendale has hosted three Super Bowl bouts and will host another in 2023. But Glendale’s not just a sports mecca for fans of professional football and hockey. This Phoenix suburb is homebase to Camelback Ranch, a modern ballpark with all the amenities where the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers take the field each season as part of Cactus League Spring Training. Take your time in Glendale into extra innings and visit Historic Old Town Glendale. Here you’ll encounter eclectic antique and vintage stores, restaurants, candy shops, and coffee houses.

Pedal Haus Brewery
Pedal Haus Brewery
Pedal Haus Brewery

Chandler 

Museums, urban parks, art galleries, and growing neighborhoods like Uptown Chandler and Downtown Chandler give this Phoenix suburb lots of appeal. Rows of palm trees line the Downtown area where you can start your day with a locally roasted coffee and organic breakfast bowl. Downtown Chandler regularly hosts community-focused events and it’s a popular hangout for craft beer drinkers. SanTan Brewery, Pedal Haus, and The Perch, with 40 beers on tap and tropical birds at every turn, all call this Phoenix suburb home.

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Lauren Topor Reichert is a Phoenix-based multimedia storyteller, photographer, and content creator. Her work has been featured in travel guides, national publications, and the social feeds of some stellar local restaurants. Follow her around Arizona, and beyond, on Instagram @hungryinphoenix.

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