20 Newly Discovered Vacation Destinations, Part II

Islands in the Stream Islands, UAE
Floating off the coast of Dubai in between the Palm and the World Islands, the Islands in the Stream Islands is a man-made archipelago in the shape of Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, duet partners on the 1983 hit song of the same name. Sadly, much like other large building projects in Dubai, funding for the islands has evaporated in recent years. As a result, many attractions have been forced to close, including Kenny Rogers’s “The Gambler” Casino and the only Kenny Rogers Roasters restaurant to exclusively serve halal meat. Still, now is a better time than ever to visit. Due to rampant erosion, geologists predicts that by 2012, the only part of the archipelago still above sea level will be the two giant sand dunes representing Dolly’s monumental bosom.

What to Do There:
Sailing Away to Another World
Boat trips leave daily from the tip of Kenny Rogers’s beard.

Relying on Each Other
Like one lover to another. Uh-huh.


Mayberry, NC
Similar to tours of Baltimore that highlight locations from HBO’s gritty crime drama The Wire, Mayberry capitalizes on its association with another law enforcement-themed program: The Andy Griffith Show. Fans flock to this small Piedmont community to see the jail cell that held town drunk Otis Campbell, the moonshine still busted up by Deputy Barney Fife, the store from which young Opie Taylor stole a candy bar, and the sites of other notorious goings-on. Of less interest are tour destinations dealing with the hard times that befell Mayberry after Andy Griffith went off the air, such as the corner where Ernest T. Bass was arrested for slinging rock during the hamlet’s mid-1980s crack epidemic.

What to Do There:
For the true Mayberry experience, bring a small, red-headed kid down to the fishing hole with you, whistling whilst you walk. Speaking of that…

Everyone knows how the theme song goes. Just purse your lips and blow. Doo-do-do-DOO-do-doo-do, DOO-do-doo-do, DOO-do-doo-do-DOO…


Disney’s Wild Wild West Virginia
When the Walt Disney company purchased West Virginia in 2009, little was known about their plans. Now open for its inaugural season, Wild Wild West Virginia is goes far beyond what anyone could have imagined. Pack an oxygen mask because you’ll need it as you journey miles into the earth’s core on Mickey’s Magical Mineshaft. Be sure to visit the World of Yesterday, where Goofy leads you on a historically inaccurate Appalachian adventure based on textbooks that no other school district in the nation has used since the 1960s.

What to Do There:
The Grave of Don Knotts
It’s no Knott’s Berry Farm, but you’ll have just as much fun honoring the earthly remains of America’s favorite confused, ascot-wearing landlord. R.I.P., Mr. Furley.

Harpers Ferry National Historic Park
Re-enact one of the country’s bloodiest abolitionist uprisings at this 2,287-acre preserve, or just have the family pose for photos at the spot where John Brown was captured.


In the heart of the great state of Calisota lies Duckburg, a glittering boomtown that benefits from the largesse of its wealthiest resident–an eccentric Scottish billionaire whose net worth is thought to be so liquid that he can swim in it. A bustling metropolis on par with New York and Tokyo, visitors often find themselves overwhelmed by the city’s sheer energy, describing life there as like a hurricane. With race cars, lasers, and airplanes frequently found zipping through the streets, it’s no wonder residents have nicknamed the place “Duck-blur.” Detractors will point to high crime statistics, however travelers should keep in mind that 99.8% of that criminal activity is focused around the vast currency storage facility located on Killmotor Hill.

What to Do There:
Take Classes at Duckburg Community College
Criminal justice enthusiasts might solve a mystery, while fans of archaeology can rewrite history.


Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan
It’s an uncomfortable fact that certain regions of the Middle East can be dangerous places for American travelers. That’s why the operators of Camp Leatherneck are always looking for a few good men and women willing to pay a visit to Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. To entice those with an adventurous spirit, they offer all-inclusive packages that cover not just room and board, but also higher education expenses and health care costs. Not to mention anyone who signs up for one of their 24 month-long “tours” receives a complimentary earth tone jacket-and-pant ensemble. It’s a great way to avoid looking like a tourist, as it really helps the wearer blend in with his or her surroundings. All in all, it’s not a vacation destination for everyone, but those who choose to go find themselves coming back to again and again, whether they want to or not.

What to Do There:
Afternoon Tea with Locals
There’s nothing Pashtun tribesmen in the region love more than discussing issues over three cups of strong tea. Be careful, though: they can be pretty opinionated and aren’t afraid to use strong language (or worse) to show their disagreement.

Flower Picking
Helmand Province is home to the biggest poppy fields in the world. Visitors are encouraged to round up as many as they can.

Day Trip to Pakistan
Though not listed on the official list of activities, camp officers will occasionally organize field trips across the border in search of new caves to explore.


Satan’s Duplex, WY
Overshadowed by Devils Tower (literally when the angle of the sun is right), Satan’s Duplex is the sixth largest rock formation in Wyoming’s northeast region. With an elevation of just under 200 feet, those willing to make the arduous ten minute hike to the top are rewarded with a panoramic view of the billboards lining Interstate 90 as it passes through the town of Gillette. On a clear day, eagle-eyed birdwatchers can see all the way to the Knotty Pines Shopping Center, where a large flock of buzzards have begun nesting in the rafters of an abandoned Circuit City warehouse. Those interested in Native American history will note that, unlike other unique geologic features in the western U.S., Satan’s Duplex is not considered a sacred site by any tribe. That said, the mesa is where less ambitious students from nearby Sitting Bull High School like to hang out and smoke, so visitors are advised to keep an eye on their personal belongings at all times.

What to Do There:
Rock Climbing
The sides of Satan’s Duplex are short and gently sloped, making it perfect for rock climbers who are beginners, suffer from vertigo, or just get tired easily.

The preferred (and only) accommodations for overnight visitors, as the only hotel in town burned down a few years ago and locals are very suspicious of outsiders.

Carbuncle Muffler at Knotty Pines Shopping Center
Validated parking for any visitor to Satan’s Duplex who spends more than $20 on auto parts.


The Jersey Shore, NJ
Stretching from Sandy Hook to Cape May, the Jersey Shore attracts a diverse crowd, ranging from Italian-Americans who live in New York to Italian-Americans who live in Philly. Starting in late April, every inch of the area’s beaches and boardwalks are packed with guidos, guidettes, and the occasional “Snooki.” By the midsummer peak season, it’s believed that there are more Italian stereotypes populating this 127-mile strip of coastline than in Sicily, the Old Country, and every mafia movie in the history of Hollywood combined. Keep in mind that though the Jersey Shore is part of the U.S., locals speak in a dialect that is nearly indecipherable to anyone who scored in the first two quartiles on their verbal SATs. Either brush up on slang before visiting, or be prepared to nod politely when a man reeking of body spray and abs you could grate parmesan with asks you to “take a grenade” for him.

What to Do There:
Get your pump on.

Get your brown on.

Get your fold on.

STD testing
Recommended for anyone who “smushes” with a guido/guidette. Get your blood work on.


Hill Valley, CA
For those wanting to take a break from the rat race, look no further than this small, charming town. Nature lovers can take a leisurely walk along Eastwood Ravine and explore what remains of Hill Valley’s wild west past. Those who prefer to indulge in retail therapy while on vacation can hit the stores of Lone Pine Mall. Just be sure to pick up a few postcards for the folks back home, no matter where (or when) they live. While Hill Valley has done a remarkable job of holding on to its history, over development is becoming an issue. Be sure to visit before casinos and other tourist traps inevitably move in.

What to Do There:
A favorite hobby of teens, Hill Valley’s town square is always filled with kids getting their grind on. It’s said the best way to see the sites is on four plastic wheels.

Hill Valley Historical Society
Learn about local folklore, such as Hill Valley’s claim to being the birthplace of both rock and roll and the Frisbee.


Vasavilla, Transylvania
Roughly 5,500 miles east of Forks, the Washington town where Twilight is set, lies Vasavilla, a Romanian village that preys upon tourists by offering vampire-themed vacations. Most visitors to the “Bloodsucking Capital of the Balkans” opt to stay in the castle of Vasile the Red-Tongued, a 15th century archduke who, legend has it, was so pale that he sparkled in the sunlight. In truth, he was the last in a long line of in-bred aristocrats whose diminished mental capacity made him think that drinking bat’s blood would somehow improve his health. Also, unlike the vampires in Twilight, Vasile was extremely ugly, as his bat’s blood diet made him extremely susceptible to disfiguring illnesses such as rabies, the plague, and a rare form of herpes indigenous to flying mammals. Also worth checking out, a cave on the outskirts of town that, according to folklore, was home to a werewolf. Modern historians now believe the beast was just a really mean dog.

What to Do There:
“They only come out at night” is Vasavilla’s motto. Namely because centuries of continued in-breeding have turned the locals nocturnal.


Patpongdong, Thailand
A notorious red-light district on the outskirts of Bangkok, Patpongdong earned its reputation by catering to any sexual proclivity, no matter how depraved. Put bluntly: if you have the money, you can have sex with it. That includes, but isn’t limited to: men, women, ladies, classy ladies, ladyboys, regular boys, girls, girls with boys’ names, pre-op transexuals, post-op transexuals, the transgendered, donkeys, transgendered donkeys, chicken, chicken Pad Thai, chicken fried rice, the San Diego Chicken, plants, flowering plants, root vegetables, sensual root vegetables, your wife, your friend’s wife, your mistress, your friend’s mistress, your friend’s other mistress who happens to be your wife, toasters, toaster strudel, strudel that’s been rewarmed in the microwave, a microwave that’s just been used to rewarm strudel, yourself, and so on and so forth. Also, there are some ruins.

What to Do There:
It’s the one and only reason people come to Patpongdong. You won’t have the energy to do anything else, if you’re doing it right.

Thanks to Devon Coleman, Elliott Kalan, Matt Passet, and Greg Volk for contributing to this piece. For even more unearthed destinations, head to wanderfly.com.