7 Breathtaking Spiritual Destinations to Visit Before You Die

From the American southwest to Italy to India, here are some of the most gorgeous and sacred places in the world.

Certain places on Earth have always called out to people. Like beacons in the darkness, they seem to promise a connection to something far beyond the self. Whether their influence is due to the presence of intangible energy beams, or the influence of ancient myths, or a bit of both, each place on this list is steeped in rich spiritual significance and ancient power.

When visiting these places, it's important to be respectful of their importance and history, especially if you don't practice the religion specific to the site. That being said, here are 7 of the most breathtaking spiritual destinations in the world.

1. Sedona, NM

Image via Swinn.com

For a while now, this place has been drawing new age mystics like moths to a flame. Apparently, it has an extremely high concentration of energy vortexes, which emanate waves of positive psychic energy and earthly power. Though the area has grown somewhat overpriced and commodified, it still boasts a variety of gorgeous views and certainly still offers the opportunity to collect some of the positive, spiritually rejuvenating energy that, if you listen to any of the wandering mystics or wayward wine moms filling the area, is radiating from the ground itself.

Sedona OH campaign Image via El Portal de Sedona Hotel

Image via Pinterest

2. Vatican City

Image via Travel Passionate

Home of the Pope, this legendary tiny nation boasts countless majestic and sacred sites, both large and small. You can see Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel paintings, so richly detailed they seem to contain all of life; then stroll to St. Peter's Basilica to view the grand, shining majesty of the Catholic Church's crown jewel; then lounge in the elegant St. Peter's Square, or explore the labyrinth of catacombs under the basilica for a more macabre window into the darker side of the Church. You can also see darling Pope Francis give a papal address every Wednesday morning. Humbling and imposing, Vatican City is a place to reflect—both on spirituality and on the opulence that often coincides with religion.

Saint Peter's Square Image via World Nomads

Image via TripSavvy

3. India

There are endless spiritual destinations in India, and to choose just one would be a disservice to the rest.

There's the Golden Temple/Swarn Mandir, opulent homage to Sikhism…

Image via Global Travel

The exquisite, mind-blowingly detailed Sun Temple in Konark…

Image via Indian Eagle

Amarnath Cave, only accessible via a rigorous, dangerous trek, and the place where mythology tells us that Lord Shiva told the secret of immortality to the goddess Parvarti…

Image via Temple Purohit

...and the booming, radiant Varanarsi, always teeming with crowds of worshipers, all having come to this ancient city where, it is believed, everyone who passes through will be liberated from the cycle of death and rebirth.

Image via India Tours

Among the most famous is the Bodh Gaya, which is the world's most sacred Buddhist temple. According to scriptures, nearly 2,600 years ago, the Buddha found enlightenment under a Bodhi tree, after spending 49 days fighting off demons and falling deeper into meditation under its branches. It's believed that a nearby tree is the direct descendent of that legendary one, and today, you can see a beautifully carved Buddha statue sitting beneath it, looking out serenely at the world around him. The temple is the common end point of religious pilgrimages for Buddhists, and with its astounding architectural details and rich history, it very may well catalyze a spiritual awakening in you, too, if that's what you're seeking.

Image via TripSavvy

4. Jerusalem

One of the world's most sacred cities for Jews, Muslims, and Christians alike, Jerusalem boasts innumerable holy sites. Among the most famous: the Chapel of the Ascension, which is part of a mosque but which holds significance for Christians too; and The Temple Mount/Dome of the Rock, the original place where the Islamic prophet Mohammad ascended to heaven. The Western Wall holds special importance for Jews, and Mount Zion, which holds the Tomb of David and the room where the Last Supper was held, is also steeped in spiritual importance.

Image via TripAdvisor

Image via The New York Post

5. Mount Kailas, Tibet

Image via YoWangdu

This mountain is sacred to Buddhists, Hindus, and Jains, and is believed to be the actual spiritual center of the universe in some sects of these faiths. According to Hindus, it's the home of Lord Shiva, god of creation and death. To Jains, it's the location where the first Jain reached Nirvana. For Buddhists, it's the legendary home of Buddha Demchog, who symbolizes supreme bliss. Mount Kailas is somewhat difficult to visit, because it's located in the remote Himalayas, and most visitors approach on foot or on pony or yak.

Image via Pinterest

Image via Sapore Decina

Image via Tibet Tour

6. Crater Lake, Oregon

Image via Dave Morrow Photography

This lake holds deep spiritual significance for the Klamath Native American tribe, partly because of the dramatic way it formed. The crater was made when the volcano Mount Mazama exploded in around 4680 BC, blasting a massive indent into the earth. Believing it symbolized the power and rage of the earth gods, members of the Klamath tribe often make pilgrimages there. According to myth, the basin was formed when two gods—Llao of the Underworld and Skell of the World Above—engaged in a war for world domination. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in Oregon and the seventh deepest in the world, and presents a popular and stunning destination where people across the world can appreciate the raw, awe-inspiring power of the earth.

Image via Fine Art America

Image via Curiosity

7. Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Image via Kimkim.com

Located in the highlands of the Sierra Mountain Range, this lake was made from a volcanic eruption that reorganized the landscape around 84,000 years ago. Since then, it's become the picture of abundance, with its lush fields and generous spread of volcanoes and horizons. The crown jewel, though, are the waters themselves, which often radiate an unearthly shade of blue. Like Sedona, it is believed that the lake exists on top of a powerful energy vortex. The lake is also rimmed by indigenous Mayan villages, and many pilgrims come to visit the lake, such as yogis and retreaters looking to participate in the famous Full Moon Course, 40-day silent retreats, and the like. For more, read this guide to the best places to visit in Guatemala during a two to three week stay.

Image via Eagle's Retreats

From forests and sunsets to cathedrals and glittering skylines, every square inch of the world is full of wonder if you really think about it. Still, in some places, it's easier to sense that wonder, or perhaps to get in contact with its source. Sometimes, you do have to travel quite far in order to come back home.

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The Best Museums in NYC

In honor of #NationalMuseumDay, here are the best NYC can offer.

While quarantine may keep museums shuttered for the summer, it will be more important than ever to return to them when they're re-opened.

Under normal circumstances, the sheer number of museums in The Big Apple can be overwhelming. Sure, the MET and MOMA are all well and good, but you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you didn't take the time to delve deeper into the city's bustling museum culture. In honor of #NationalMuseumDay, here are the best museums the city has to offer.

The Noguchi Museum

Noguchi Museum

A quaint and pristine Long Island City museum built by esteemed American-Japanese artist Isamu Noguchi, The Noguchi Museum is an oasis of abstractionism and eccentricity. Decorated with paper mache lamps across two levels of exhibition space, the museum also offers a secluded overflowing ivy garden. Akin to Noguchi's style, the art is often a collection of minimalist geometric sculptures that transfix the eye with their unique congruity. The works have only gotten more breathtaking as Noguchi's style has evolved over his 70 year career.

The New Museum

For those artsy-fartsy museum goers who require their art to be brash and bold, The New Museum will most definitely scratch that itch. They regularly champion up-and-coming modern artists, with little constraints on what they'll accept. From filmmaker Kahlil Joseph to Australian painter Helen Johnson, The New Museum is great at offering variety. Some exhibits are better than others, but the diverse, creative risks that The New Museum rewards tend to make the viewing experiences unfounded and unforgettable.

The Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

the smithsonian

Located in a breathtaking 1900's Georgian Mansion, this Upper East Side museum promotes groundbreaking work in technology, architecture and design. From metalwork and sculptures to pottery, furniture, and advanced technology, the sprawling museum usually offers around 200,000 different pieces of captivating design from over the years.

Rubin Museum of Art

Rubin Museum of Art

The Chelsea-based art museum contains an extensive array of art from the Himalayas and India. With over 38,000 pieces from the past 1,500 years, the sculptures and installations provide a fascinating look at Himalayas rich culture. From photos by legendary photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson, to sculptures and renditions from Tibet's Lukhang Temple, The Rubin offers an experience unlike any other.

National Museum of the American Indian New York

National Museum of the American Indian

The National Museum of American Indian was erected in the middle of a bustling Manhattan intersection to share the stories of over 1,200 indigenous cultures. From authentic ceremonial objects to gorgeous wood carvings and detailed pottery, the groundbreaking museum is one of the most important in the city to helping preserve the legacy of indigenous culture.

The Tenement Museum

The Tenement Museum

Located on the Lower East Side, the Tenement Museum is located in a historical tenement house, and offers authentic tours of the working-class apartments that helped house immigrants. The tour, which recreates each tenement with stirking detail, encompasses the housing evolution of LES, and how its budding immigrant residents shaped it into one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the city.


10 Endangered Animals to Weep Over

Celebrate Endangered Species Day.

An endangered species is not a tragedy, because if a species is endangered, then they aren't yet extinct.

Sadly, there are millions of endangered species across the world, all facing threats that mostly stem from human activities. Still, it's not too late. Take a gander at these majestic animals, and then donate to a wildlife fund or environmental activism group of your choice.

Of course, nature doesn't need saving—humans do—and climate change and environmental destruction are threats to humans as well as animals, but if you need a reminder of the beauty and fragility of the natural world, check out these extraordinary species.


Do Non-Melatonin Sleep Aids Really Work?

Objective makes a chocolate square.

I Can't Sleep.

I truly cannot remember the last time I had a good night's rest. Even before the stay-at-home orders, I was just a little ball of nerves.

But lately, it's been awful. I toss and turn, it's always too hot or even too cold, sometimes I make myself tea and read for a bit, but when I'm still up at 1 a.m., I reach for my phone and then I'm up until 3. My sister and I have a weekly call, and our small talk about our exhaustion turned into an hour long conversation about sleep.

I Thought I'd Tried Everything. Even Melatonin.

My sister asked why I hadn't gone for the old staple, melatonin and I reminded her about the time we traveled abroad, and it gave me the weirdest nightmares (the horrible kind where you wake up in your dream and you're still in a dream). Chamomile tea didn't work, nothing worked.

She said she had a friend who swore by something I definitely hadn't heard of.

They Were NOT Pills, Teas or Anything I'd Seen Before.

A company called Objective makes Fast Asleep, a sleep solution delivered as chocolatey treats. They're created with saffron and GABA. If going to sleep was as easy as eating a piece of these chocolatey, minty delights every night, I'd be sold.

What Exactly Was In It?

Cocoa contains caffeine, so I didn't know how this would help me sleep. After talking with my sister, I went online and saw that the calming, sleep-supporting ingredients cancel out any of the very little caffeine content.

Saffron, the spice, is apparently known to help with staying asleep, and their GABA is a fermented version of the neurotransmitter that's known to help you relax and fall asleep faster. In a study, 100% of customers saw improvement in their sleep quality thanks to saffron. One hundred percent!

Do I Try It?

A bag of 30 pieces was only $40, and they had a money-back guarantee.

They're keto-friendly and only 30 calories a piece, so not too decadent before bedtime.

They were chocolatey-minty, which is my favorite flavor, so I was sold. I ordered a bag to try.

The First Night, I Wasn't Impressed.

I took one piece (super yummy!) - 30-60 minutes before bedtime is recommended - but when I climbed in, I didn't notice a difference. I was worried I'd wasted my money.

However, once I fell asleep, I stayed asleep until my alarm went off, which hasn't always been the case for me.

I checked the site again, and noticed that many people didn't notice a real difference until the third or fourth night - it builds up in your system over time, so I decided to keep an open mind the rest of the week.

The Second Night Was Completely Different

Without doing anything differently from the first night, my second night was amazing. I felt calm and sleepy as I was getting ready for bed, and once I hit the pillow, I was out the whole night.

It had to be these sweet treats. The next day, I even felt more balanced and relaxed - Fast Asleep helps boost serotonin levels and reduce cortisol (the stress hormone), and I definitely noticed a difference in my overall mood and alertness.

I Already Ordered More.

Just In Case! There's nothing habit-forming about this product, so it's completely safe to take every night, and I honestly always want to keep it in the house. I'd also love to offer it to anyone staying over in the guest room, whenever we have guests again.

Now that I'm getting a healthy 8 hours of sleep every night, I feel more equipped during the day to tackle the things I need to do and deal with some of my daytime stressors. I finally had the energy to clean the kitchen, which had been bothering me so much for the past few weeks.

With Objective's Fast Asleep, I get real sleep and balance my levels, so I don't have to feel tired during my waking hours. Sleep in the form of chocolate squares sounds so weird, but oh my goodness, do they work.

Our partners at Objective Wellness are currently offering a 25% discount if you use the coupon code STAYHOME. Check them out here!