Sadly, we haven't got to do much traveling over the past couple of years, thanks to a little thing called COVID-19. As the world slowly reopens, taking that dream vacation feels more possible, but perhaps you're not ready to make that leap just yet. Or maybe you want inspiration before you pack your bags and book the tickets. Whatever the case, we've compiled a list of some beautiful travel coffee table books that will surely elicit a healthy dose of wanderlust in you.
Destinations of a Lifetime: 225 of the World's Most Amazing Places
It’s easy to forget just how beautiful our planet can be, and how many places are waiting to be discovered. Luckily for us, the folks at National Geographic, who certainly know a thing or two about Earth's hidden gems and natural wonders, have compiled a series of 225 of the world's most astounding places. You'll see a historic guesthouse built on a cliff in the Swiss Alps, as well as important historical landmarks and the unique pleasures of far-flung sandy beaches. This book covers cities, rural areas, and the astounding secrets to be unveiled in the middle of nowhere!
We haven't had a lot of chances to relax on a beach lately, so feel free to live through these impeccably photographed images by Gray Malin. A fashion photographer and artist with a keen eye for detail, Malin's work reveals some of the secret stylistic weirdness of beaches across 20 cities on six continents. While we wait for summer to return, Beaches might be the best way to wait out the cool and wet spring months.
prettycitylondon: Discovering London's Beautiful Places
London is a city so chock-full of incredible sights that trying to contain it to one book seems futile—and it is, because the prettycitylondon series is several books long! When author Siobhan Ferguson moved to the city from Ireland, she was determined to seek out the most beautiful parts of the British capital, well beyond the most iconic tourist places. Her books show readers the hidden gems of London, whether flower markets or bookstores straight from the Victorian age, and all of it can be found in one city.
Wanderlust: A Hiker's Companion
Cam Honan's Wanderlust series shares some of the most astounding and inspiring landscapes on the planet. In this edition, readers are invited to delve into the most legendary and scenic walking routes on Earth, from the El Caminito del Rey in Spain to the fabled Kumano Kodo pilgrimage in Japan to a mythical hiking path in the land of the giants in Norway. It's the perfect book for beginners, seasoned professionals, or those who just want to live vicariously through the pages.
Related: The Best Travel Memoirs and History Books to Read Before (or During) Your Next Trip
Van Life: Your Home on the Road
More and more people are taking a break from conventional life for the freedom and adventure of being on the road. Converted vans, trucks, and campers have become a common sight, a favorite tool of travelers and nomads who don't wish to be bound to hotels or even their own homes. One of these van dwellers, Foster Huntington, created the #vanlife hashtag as he chronicled his adventures living in a van while driving cross country. In this book, he showcases the best crowd-sourced photographs of the stunning natural sights encountered by van dwellers across the world.
California Crazy: American Pop Architecture
Jim Heimann details the past century of the Golden State as it developed a reputation for architectural eccentricities: buildings shaped like pigs or coffee pots or fruit; giant legs perched precariously atop roofs; eerie figures looming overhead stores as customers enter. California Crazy includes essays exploring the influences that fostered this unique architectural movement, all accompanied by images of the weirdest, funniest, and most unexpected Californian sights.
Tree Houses: Fairy-Tale Castles in the Air
Every kid dreamed of having a treehouse in their backyard. Philip Jodidio's book brings those fantasies to life by revealing the incredible history behind these playful structures. Tree houses are chronicled in ancient civilizations and their lore crosses throughout the history of every part of the world where trees grow. As the book shows, treehouses can be playhouses for kids, restaurants, hidden hotels, or places of tranquility to escape from the pressures of the world. With 50 treehouses from around the world depicted in luscious photographs and illustrations, you'll be able to realize many a youthful promise with this book.
Epic Hikes of the World
With stories of 50 incredible hiking routes in 30 countries, the Lonely Planet's guide to incredible hikes of the world will surely inspire you to pack up your things and take a trek into the beautiful unknown. The book offers detailed and gorgeous coverage of one-day jaunts and month-long journeys in every corner of the globe, from Mount Kilimanjaro to the Great Wall of China to the Kokoda Track of Papua New Guinea. Whether you're a seasoned traveler or looking for some inspiration from the comfort of your home, the photographs and illustrated maps, as well as the guides on where to stay, how to get there, and what to eat, will surely inspire.
Related: 17 Historical Places You Need to See in Your Lifetime