WORTH A TRIP: Travel + Leisure put Italy on its July cover to catch our eye, but what grabbed our imagination was Iran. Peter Jon Linberg goes to Tehran and tries to reconcile his recollections of 1979's official thuggery with the traditional, overwhelming hospitality shown him now. ("If you ask for lemon for your tea, the waiter won't dish out a few slices; he'll bring an entire bushel.") He goes clubbing, dining and bazaar-crawling in a culture that both loathes and admires America. Oppression exists (flirtation bans keep teenagers apart), but technology provides ways around it (kids merely cell phone each other from the other side of the room). Tellingly, though, T+L feels obliged to change some of the names in Linberg's story.
Meanwhile, Men's Journal dares you to do what you've been muttering about in "How to Take a Year Off." "Don't make a list of what would be 'fun'; make a list of the toughest challenges you'd dare to take on." Like the profiled guys who climbed a mountain or sailed a homemade boat or built a medical clinic. There are dissonant undertones here, though: reminders about what a good career builder it will be; how great it will look on our resume. 'Scuse us -- isn't that the kind of thing we're taking a year off to avoid?
WORTH A FLIP: Ski confronts the skier's annual problem -- what to do in the summer? Well, it's not summer everywhere. Try Bariloche in Argentine Patagonia. The price tag is high, but you'll be helicoptered to peaks that never have been skied before . . . Smithsonian goes to Mali to cover efforts to save nomadic desert elephants, perhaps to make "a mobile national park" . . . In a marrying mood, travelgirl touts weddings in the Florida Keys ("However traditional -- or nontraditional -- the wedding, Key West gives you the illusion that you just eloped") . . .
The August/September (on sale now) Modern Bride gives your mail carrier a hernia and gives us "The World's 50 Best Honeymoons" (on Page 458 -- yes, in a magazine). Hawaii leads, scoring high for romance and beaches; Fiji gets points for seclusion and Tahiti for "sexy ambiance" . . . National Geographic Traveler presents 30 ways to experience an "insider's" Los Angeles (we like No. 20, a nature hike along the Los Angeles River), and ranks 55 U.S. and Canadian national parks for pristine-ness. The winner is Gwaii Haanes in British Columbia (hey, it's easy to stay pristine when nobody's ever heard of you); Wisconsin's Apostle Islands rate well, too.
Atlantic brings back French commentator Bernard-Henri Levy for another installment of his look around America, "In the Footsteps of Tocqueville." Levy this time encounters legal hookers in Nevada, the sole inmate of a female prison's death row, and octogenarian square dancers in Sun City (which he leaves "with a feeling of unease, no longer knowing if you come here . . . to banish death or savor a foretaste of it") . . . Town & Country Travel goes to the Adirondacks, where the unspoiled land "remains stubbornly untamable," and recommends Ibiza, off Spain in the Mediterranean, but not for its notorious partying. On parts of the island there are deserted coves, "groves of olive, lemon, fig and almond trees," and a "tranquilo" lifestyle . . . outtraveler produces its own Top 10 list of adventure travel options for its gay readership, from the Australian outback to bike touring Cuba ("You'll . . . be surprised how robust Havana's ambiente (gay scene) is") . . . Mountain Bike suggests 10 cities for urban rides (New York and Cleveland have mountains?). Washington doesn't make the list.
WORTH A CLIP: Doh! Another list that D.C. didn't make: Vegetarian Times's 20 "greenest" spots in the country, locales that encourage eco-awareness, outdoor activities and veggie cafes (Chicago and Austin lead the "cities" category) . . . Meanwhile, Hearst's new Weekend positions itself as "a one-stop resource on what to do during the 48 hours each week we can truly call our own." Examples: six day-trips to historic beach boardwalks; seven national park "grand lodges"; a concise itinerary for a weekend in Chicago . . . Into islands this month, Conde Nast Traveler reconfigures its regular monthly departments to accommodate 101 of them: "Great Drives" drives Corsica; "Stop Press" reviews private islands you can buy (dang, checkbook's in our other pants); and the concluding "Room With a View" views Manhattan from a new luxury hotel.
WORTH A GAWK: Budget Travel tours the 10 grandest mansions in America, including Monticello, Winterthur and the Biltmore Estate. It's a gossipy gawk, confiding "what the guides won't tell you."
-- Jerry V. Haines