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Review: National Geographic Traveler iPad app '50 Places of a Lifetime'

May 06, 2011|By Jen Leo | Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Taj Mahal is one of the featured places in a new National Geographic Traveler iPad app.
Taj Mahal is one of the featured places in a new National Geographic Traveler… (Screengrab from National…)

Here's a new app that will inspire you to travel around the world. The latest in a collection of 35 apps that National Geographic offers across several platforms, it is based on "50 Places of a Lifetime," a special issue of National Geographic Traveler from 1999. The mag's list of the world's best destinations has been updated for today.

Name: 50 Places of a Lifetime: The World's Greatest Destinations

Available for: iPad

Cost: $1.99. Download here.

What it does: Shows you great places, organized into categories: Urban Spaces, Wild Places, Paradise Found, Country Unbound and World Wonders.

What's hot: This app opened up to the sound of birdsong and a high-resolution image that filled the screen of my iPad and elevated my mood. The view: Château Chenonceau, Loire Valley, in France.

As when traveling through a new city, I had fun getting lost. Starting after the introduction from Editor-in-Chief Keith Bellows, I swiped right into New York and an essay from actor-writer Andrew McCarthy. Swiping up and down, left and right, led me to digital treats such as videos, destination facts, more cities and beautiful photo galleries. Stay on the hunt for all the treats you can find. At Petra's Treasury, for instance, a 360-panoramic experience awaits you.

Don't skip over the writing, which draws from stellar authors such as Paul Theroux, Salman Rushdie, Arthur Golden, Jan Morris, Bill Bryson and Gore Vidal.

What's not: The only drawback is that once you’ve read all the articles, there’s little reason to come back. Sure, you can create a personalized list of destinations that you’ve visited (from the list of 50) and another wish list of places. But I was eager to have some practical information embedded in the app for travelers who want to go to destinations such as the Amazon forest, India's Taj Mahal, Italy's Amalfi Coast and Mesa Verde in Colorado.

Worth it? Yes, for travelers who are questioning where to go next, armchair travelers with iPad in tow, and photographers who want to study great travel photography without taking a class. This is the most inspiring travel app for the iPad that I’ve seen yet.

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