Ruth A. Musgrave

#1: Great Barrier Reef, Australia

Awesome Sight

Colors of the coral reef, as if a box of 120 crayons exploded.

Cool Creature

A lionfish with venomous spines to warn you away.

Extreme Adventure
A fast ride over the reef in a low-flying helicopter.

The Story
Fish flutter and dart away as you snorkel in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. You look at—but don't touch—the frilly, odd-shaped corals. Spotting a striped zebra shark, you're glad to know it's not an aggressive fish that might nibble on you.

Next you're off to explore the rain forest, where you take a dip in a creek and climb a tower into the canopy. On your visit to a wildlife park, you're allowed to hand-feed kangaroos and wallabies. You top off your visit by cuddling a koala at a nature park.

Read on to discover four more places around the world for that dream summer vacation!

#2: Orlando, Florida

Awesome Sight
Stuntmen riding motorcycles through fire at Disney-MGM Studios.

Cool Creatures
Orcas and dolphins performing at SeaWorld.

Extreme Adventure
Riding Kraken, a floorless, 15-story-high roller coaster with seven upside-down loops.

The Story
At the top of the Expedition Everest roller coaster (above), at Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, there is a moment of silence ... before you plummet over the top. You scream at the thrill as you spiral and spin, over and over again.

One theme park down, seven more to go! You head over to SeaWorld to take in the orca show, where your front-row seat means you get soaked when Shamu makes a spectacular leap! You'll go to Universal Orlando tomorrow, where you take in the Shrek 4-D film experience, make a virtual 400-foot free fall with Spider-Man, and end up walking through Jurassic Park with dinosaurs.

#3: Caribbean Cruise

Awesome Sight
Watching the Best Belly Flop Contest at the pool.

Cool Creatures
Dolphins playing in the bow wave of the ship.

Extreme Adventure
Winning a speed-climbing competition to the top of the rock wall aboard the ship.

The Story
It's another gorgeous day of surfing in the Caribbean Sea. You carve left, then right, ripping the waves as the fans go wild in the stands. Wipeout!

Cruises aren't just for grandmas anymore. The cruise ship is a floating resort, complete with an onboard surf simulator. More fun awaits you as you practice figure eights on the ice-skating rink. Then you play a round of miniature golf with new friends you've made on the trip. Later you all join a scavenger hunt.

Deciding "dessert before dinner," you run over to the ice-cream shop for a late-afternoon hot fudge sundae. Then you're ready for your juggling lesson to prepare for a talent contest. Next you join a table of friends for a burger and malt at the 1950s-style diner. You stop by a pool party on your way to take in a Broadway-style show.

#4: Costa Rica

Awesome Sight
Erupting volcano spewing lava.

Cool Creatures
Howler monkeys yelling from the treetops.

Extreme Adventure
Zooming along a zip line high in the cloud forest canopy.

The Story
Last night you watched the glow of lava from Arenal, an active volcano in Costa Rica. Now you're hiking through a rain forest. You release the low branch blocking your path and it whooshes back into place, startling a parrot from its perch nearby. Monkeys chatter in the trees. Scanning for lizards and sloths, you also hope to spot a jaguar.

Later on your trip, a toucan's-eye view of the trees greets you as you glide on a zip line through the canopy of a cloud forest (above). Afterward you visit a frog farm to see poison dart frogs, huge marine toads, and red-eyed tree frogs. To top off this vacation, you change into your bathing suit and go windsurfing on Lake Arenal.

#5: London, England

Awesome Sight
Changing the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

Cool Creatures
Legendary ravens that live at the Tower of London.

Extreme Adventure
Riding the 443-foot-tall London Eye—an oversize Ferris wheel.

The Story
The 900-year-old Tower of London, in England, has been a fortress, a palace, and a prison. The moat kept people out, and now it provides entertainment: You can ice-skate on it!

Popping inside the Tower, you're dazzled by the gems in the Crown Jewels. The display includes the royal collection of crowns, robes, swords, and other priceless items. Tearing yourself away, you head off to explore more of London.

Visiting London is like stepping into TV's history, travel, music video, and food channels all at once. You take a city tour riding on the top of a double-decker bus. Hopping off at Madame Tussauds wax museum, you're thrilled by lifelike wax figures of the gruesome, gross, and famousfrom Captain Jack Sparrow and his creepy pirate crew to very proper kings, queens, and presidents. Maybe someday there will be a statue of you!


Text by Ruth A. Musgrave