Graduation season is fast approaching. The graduate in your life has worked hard for that piece of paper, or maybe you’re the graduate and you have a personal testimony. A big job well done deserves something special. Go hard with a gift to your loved one or to yourself. Years have been dedicated to learning a particular subject. Put the books aside and bring it to life. What could be better than a trip based on a major? Here are a few ideas for history, art, biology, English, architecture and geology enthusiasts.
Budding biologists should head to the Galapagos as a post-graduation gift. The archipelago first explored by Charles Darwin in 1835 is filled with unique species and otherworldly landscapes. Embarking on a cruise gives any curious environmentalist the chance to learn about evolution and see prime examples of natural selection at work. Audley Travel recommends cruising aboard the Seaman Journey which is renowned for its expert naturalist guides and small cruising capacity of just 16 passengers.
Future historians will have their fill of history in Thailand’s ancient capitals. Take for example, Ayutthaya, which was left in ruins by the Burmese hundreds of years ago. Then there’s Sukhothai in the central region of the country, and onward to Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai in the north. Get a guide to provide context and insight as you wind your way through the ruins. Do include Phuket on your itinerary. You’ll want to hear about the Chinese and Portuguese trading port there. Thailand is the only country in mainland Southeast Asia that was never colonized, so much is well preserved and accessible to visitors.
Just 25 minutes from Dublin in the Ireland countryside, you’ll find Carton House. The estate’s origins date from 1176 when the land belonged to the FitzGerald family, one of the most influential families in Irish history. Carton House was once the residence of the Duke of Leinster and is the sister house to Leinster House, the current parliament of Ireland. It is also said to have been a favorite retreat of Queen Victoria of England. The Manor House includes Queen Victoria’s “Bedroom,” a beautiful Chinese room in its original state that once housed the four-poster bed that the queen slept in. Talk about bling, Lady Emily commissioned gilt-wood and hand-drawn papyrus wallpaper from China for the walls. Check out the Boat House. It’s said to have been built for one of Queen Victoria’s visits to Carton House.
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Any artist looking for inspiration will get that and more in Santa Fe. Art folk are everywhere. There are more than 250 art galleries and more than a dozen major museums and new media/emerging art attractions. One of Santa Fe’s oldest hotels, this property has been collecting local Native American and Southwestern art since the 1920s. The hotel’s art collection is so impressive, there’s a book about it and a free docent art tour that’s offered multiple times weekly. For something like you’ve never experienced, visit the immersive art installation, “Meow Wolf House of Eternal Return,” created by the Meow Wolf art collective. The House of Eternal Return is an experience featuring a multidimensional mystery house with secret passages, portals to magical worlds, and surreal maximalist art installations designed to transport you the fantastic realms of story and modern art exploration. Santa Fe’s Georgia O’Keeffe Museum is home to the single largest collection of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work in the world. The museum showcases exhibitions that are either devoted entirely to O’Keeffe’s work or exhibits combining examples of her art with works by American modernist contemporaries. Other art-focused museums include SITE Santa Fe, Museum of International Folk Art, New Mexico Museum of Art, Museum of Spanish Colonial Art, Encaustic Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Native Arts and the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture.
What is it about the City of Lights that calls writers? Go find out. Walk the streets that some of the greats used to, including Ernest Hemingway, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Mark Twain, Gertrude Stein, F Scott Fitzgerald and Edith Wharton. Hang out as they did. The wordsmiths’ talents might linger in the air. Eat, drink, and be merry at places like Les Deux Magots’ restaurant that opened in 1885. Back in the day it was favored by Hemingway, as well as folks like Albert Camus, James Joyce and Bertolt Brecht.
Architecture majors will love Spain. For starters, there’s Barcelona, where you can take a Gaudi-centric tour of the city visiting Casa Milà (also known as La Pedrera), Park Güell and the Sagrada Familia (which has an estimated finish date 2026). However, beyond the greats there’s so much more to Spain’s architectural landscape than Barcelona. In Andalusia, admire the blend of architectural styles that visually represent Spain’s history. La Mezquita in Cordoba is home to a Roman Catholic church that was constructed in the middle of a grand mosque, clearly showcasing the religious tug and pull that has always influenced the country. Further afield the Alhambra in Granada showcases a Renaissance palace within a Moorish fortress.
La Fortuna, Costa Rica
Spread across 900 acres of protected primary and secondary rainforest, Tabacón Thermal Resort & Spa wraps you in a maze of lush green and exotic flora for a relaxing, sustainable getaway in one of the world’s most biodiverse destinations. Located minutes from the base of the Arenal Volcano, the resort was built around a network of thermal mineral springs and cascading waterfalls that are naturally heated by the volcano’s magma. Closest to the volcano where water temperatures are hottest, an adults-only Shangri-La Gardens offers the most secluded and exclusive spot to unwind. The resort’s focal point and main attraction, the springs provide a natural heat source for the resort and its amenities, including open-air spa, which features a naturally-heated relaxation pool and 11 private Jacuzzis that contain natural spring water. Newly designed Orchid Rooms feature natural skylights and electricity/water conservation systems. The carbon neutral-certified property is home to more than 500 species of local plant and wildlife, with more than 1,200 trees added through the resort’s reforestation program.