Traveling America The Beautiful
Traveling America is the topic for today’s discussion as Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth sit down with the Editor-in-Chief of National Geographic, Susan Goldberg, to talk about the impact of National Geographic and their ever-expanding footprint… as well as the new coffee table book they are putting out titled, America the Beautiful. Nat Geo’s first female editor offers an insightful discussion about Traveling America and key destinations, how she has seen the world with National Geographic, and how to catch the latest National Geographic Podcast.
Andy McNeill and Todd Bludworth are travel and hospitality entrepreneurs and owners of the global meetings organization, American Meetings, Inc. From sourcing venues in Traveling America to corporate event management around the world, their team selects corporate event venues and meeting planners for a wide array of enterprise business clients, providing ideas for convention themes and strategies for running global meetings and events. Learn more at www.americanmeetings.com.
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America The Beautiful
“Oh beautiful, for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountain majesties,” more than just words, this is the reality. America is truly beautiful. If you’re a shutterbug, Instagrammer or simply enjoys the nostalgia looking at a timeless image, this episode is for you. We focus on readers who dream of taking on a photo journey of America’s most moving destinations, hotels, landmarks and vistas. We hope to give you insight on those top photographed destinations in and out of the United States. We are interviewing Susan Goldberg, National Geographic’s first female Editor-in-Chief. She is sharing the story of Nat Geo’s newest book, America the Beautiful, A Story in Photographs. We will be talking to her about her experiences with this historic publication. We will also share some of the most iconic and photographic places to fill your social media feed and your exploration need. If a stateside staycation is in the near future, this episode will surely inspire your local bucket list. Welcome to this episode, America The Beautiful.
We are excited to have our very special guest, Susan Goldberg, the Editor-in-Chief of National Geographic. We are going to be talking to her about a new coffee table book that they are putting out that is promoting America the Beautiful. Everybody remembers National Geographic from growing up. Todd, what are your first memories?
We were talking about this and the reality, but when you’re a kid and your library has National Geographic, you’re looking through it. You’re usually doing a paper on writing about tigers.
I remember actually ripping out the articles and the photos and putting on the poster board as a kid.
You flipped through the page. I remember they were doing something on the Amazon and then it was just people in their natural environment. As a kid to see that, it was life. Growing up prude in the United States, sometimes as a kid, you see it and it’s shocking, but then you look back, it was just beautiful. It’s families with kids. They’re surviving in the rainforest. National Geographic did a great job of collecting that experience. It’s such a world away from you, but they captured in pictures in real time.
It is captured in pictures or maybe that’s what National Geographic is. The writing is fantastic. What I remember as a little kid is going to my dad’s office. He was a dentist. They had them in the waiting room. I remember the vistas and the photos. It’s opening up a world to me. That’s why I’m glad we have Susan to talk about the impact of National Geographic and their ever-expanding footprint that they are. They’re in digital, in TV, in excursions now. They’ve done this incredible book about America the Beautiful and very timely to be talking about America with the election and everything that’s going on with the pandemic. What’s impressive with all these pictures is it brings you back in time to these photos that you remember and the photos that are still inspiring to this day.
The magazine itself, every dentist’s office, every doctor’s office, at our house, in bathrooms, seeing the yellow border National Geographic, it’s a little smaller than a traditional magazine. Everybody knows this magazine. There were two things we had in the ‘80s. We didn’t have Google. We didn’t have the internet. We had Encyclopedia Britannica. We had National Geographic. That’s how we got all of our research done for papers. It was such a good point of reference with the text, the copy that they did, as well as the photos.
It’s now one of the top hashtags on Instagram. It’s @NatGeo. Make sure you follow them. They have over 140 million followers and they are working towards trying to beat Justin Bieber.
Let’s get them over the top. Because we have Susan, we’re going to dedicate this entire episode to National Geographic. You’ll find with our philosophy here at Destination Everywhere, everywhere is National Geographic. They are everywhere. A lot of the stuff that we will talk about will turn into bucket list items, all of these amazing photographed places and people.
We’re also going to share with you the top most photographed destinations, monuments, buildings. It’s going to be a fun show. We are excited to have Editor-in-Chief Susan Goldberg from National Geographic.
We are excited to have our next guest, Susan Goldberg. Susan is the Editor-in-Chief of National Geographic. Welcome, Susan.
Thank you so much. I’m delighted to be here.
We are so happy to have you. Going through your bio, you’ve done some amazing things and have been awarded some great recognition. You personally, as well as the magazine, since you’ve been editor-in-chief. I don’t know if people know this, you are the first editor-in-chief who is female in the 125 years of the magazine’s existence since 1888. What took so long and how did you get that spot?
National Geographic was founded in 1888. I became the editor-in-chief in 2014. I like to say it took 125 years to find the right woman for the job. I’m sure I won’t be the last female editor of National Geographic. I don’t know what took so long, except that it’s taken a long time for women to achieve those kinds of positions in a lot of places. It’s taken way too long. What I always like to say is it’s great to be first. I’m humbled and honored to have this position. It’s going to be a lot better of a society when there aren’t many female first, when people don’t write national news stories when a woman is put in charge because it’s the normal course of doing business, whether that business is journalism, law, politics, banking or whatever. I look forward to that day.
I’m a huge fan. I get your books all the time. It was just such kismet that we were getting to interview you on this. This is Destinations of a Lifetime. I love this book. I’m a huge hiker. I’ve got your 100 hikes to do. The books are incredible. I want to dive into the book itself because the pictures and pictorials are amazing. My first question is around how do you even select a limited number of photos to encapsulate America? It must have been a huge ask.
People ask me this all the time because America the Beautiful book is based on the information in the National Geographic archives. Our archives span back to our founding over three centuries, the 19th, 20th and now the 21st. We have 64 million print and digital images in our archives. The first thing we did in writing America the Beautiful is we took all of those gorgeous pictures that we have from over the rest of the world and we put them aside. We were focusing on pictures of the United States, the territories in Washington, DC.
We tried to find photos in three big areas. One is epic landscape pictures. We all are reminded of the vast beauty of the United States by looking at this book. We wanted to have pictures that capture the diversity of wildlife in the United States as well. I’d say even more important than anything else is pictures of people, both historic and up through the modern day that can help tell the story of America and why America is such a unique place. Paging through this book, it reminded me a little bit of driving across the country. That’s the feeling that I hope other people get from it too.
Without a doubt, there are a couple of pictures that stand. There’s one in Arkansas that had a little boy and his dad and a four-wheel tractor just driving on a farm and the boys are looking back a little bit. You flip the page and then there’s a hiking path. You see this mountain lion looking right at the photographer. It couldn’t have been more than 20 feet away. From people to nature to the landscaping, like you said, it blows your mind. You realize how amazing the country is when you look at it in pictures.
My favorite one, Susan, I don’t know if you remember this one, it’s the 1957 photo of the Mayflower 2 coming into New York Harbor. I have seen that picture before. I didn’t know it’s a National Geographic. I should have assumed. It’s such a fantastic shot because it’s a US Navy blimp hovering over this replica of the Mayflower. It’s many things in one photo and that’s one thing I’ve always loved about National Geographic. You see a photo and it makes you think not only of what’s in the photo but what’s surrounding the photo. The emotion that most of these photos pull out of you is simply incredible. Do you have several favorite photos from this book?
This is like asking me to pick among my children. I only have one though, so that’s not my problem. There is a photo in here that harkens back to my childhood. I was looking at it. It’s from 1965. It’s in New York. It’s all of these people looking out of the crown of the Statue of Liberty when people were still allowed to go up there. They haven’t been allowed up there in a long time. It’s taken at eye level. It’s an aerial photo taken by our photographer, William Albert Allard. It’s a throwback photo, but it’s a great photo.
Next to it, you see the torch on the ground, her hand in the torch like it’s being ready to be installed.
That’s one of those juxtapositions. This book is full of photos juxtaposed against each other. Here are two views of the Statue of Liberty, one of her face in her crown and one of the torch on the ground before it’s being installed. All of these juxtapositions, not only do you look at each photo, but you look at them together. It makes you stop and think about the relationship between the photos. Our photo editors and book editors are very clever in that way of seeing similarities in sometimes very disparate scenes.
I noticed also the captions don’t give away too much. They touch on the photos, but they don’t go into a big background on each of the photos. It leaves a lot to your imagination when you’re looking at them. Something else that you guys do in this book is you take a native son or daughter from that state or territory, and you get their personal story as an introduction. How did you select those individuals?
That was hard because we wanted to find people whose names were known, but people who also had authentic and legitimate connections to the state. When we went to Ohio, for example, to me the obvious choice there was LeBron James. I used to be the editor of the Plain Dealer newspaper in Cleveland, the largest paper in Ohio. We covered LeBron James when he was playing for the Cavaliers. LeBron James is a multimillionaire, world-famous athlete. Yet, his connection to Ohio is legitimate. I love what he said. We quoted all these people in the book and what LeBron James said was, “Before anyone ever cared where I would play basketball, I was a kid from Northeast Ohio. In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have. No matter where I go in the world, Ohio will always be home.” In those few sentences, he did a beautiful job in capturing what each of our home states mean to us. That authentic connection that he has rings out in those sentences. I loved it.
What I’ve noticed about a lot of these quotes is how people talk about how the area or the state or the region came with them after they left like President Obama’s comments around Hawaii, how the people are always with him and what he learned has made him a better person.
Nick Saban, the college football coach does that too. Writing about West Virginia where he grew up, as he says, “I’ve been gone for many years, but my West Virginia roots helped define my life in more ways than I can count. I met my wife there and learned what it meant to be part of a team.” Clearly, nothing is more important for him than that. People have these wonderful stories about places, warm, loving stories.
My parents would get something out of this different than I do because you were talking about growing up. One picture triggering a memory and there’s so much that they would enjoy and probably be like, “I remember that. I remembered when that happened.” You did such a wonderful job in selecting the photos so you can look at them all day long.
One of the things I do like about this book is how the photos are juxtaposed against the poem that we all know, America the Beautiful. This was a poem written in 1893. A lot of people, once it got put to music, thought it should have been the national anthem. All of us know the first stanza, but there are four stanzas to this poem. It’s the one that is, “Oh beautiful, for spacious skies.” There are tons of pictures in this book that bring that home. Katharine Lee Bates, she writes this poem. She’s a young woman. She’s an English professor at Wellesley College.
She takes a train trip across the country. When she gets to Kansas, she struck by four amber waves of grain. When she gets to Colorado, she sees four purple mountains majesty. It was that journey that led to this poem. It is so well told. When you get down into the poem, you get to the second, third and fourth stanzas, it’s a very patriotic poem, but it also acknowledges some of the flaws of the country. It talks about thine alabaster cities gleam and she’s writing about Chicago. Undimmed by human tears, so she’s also hinting that the country has issues too. It’s a very interesting poem when you read the whole thing and in any way that laces its way through the whole book.
It had the photos to go along with it. I’d like to ask you about the photographers. I’ve always been curious about how you’ve curated the best photographers in the world and how the relationship with them has grown over the years and how they have contributed to this book.
This comes out of, as we said, the National Geographic Archive. All of these people who are in here and not all of them are living anymore, but these were all people who could call themselves National Geographic photographers. To this day, we work with about 150 photographers on a regular basis. These photographers’ work, now you can see them on our @NatGeo Instagram account. We’re the most followed brand on Instagram, not too surprisingly. We’ve got about 145 million followers. Those who have more followers are celebrities. We are right behind Justin Bieber in terms of followers. We passed Kim Kardashian. We are hot on the trail of Kim Kardashian.
These are photographers from around the world. We work with them all the time on all kinds of different stories. This was looking at an American story, but for every issue of the magazine and for our content on our digital platforms that goes out every single day, we are working with this increasingly diverse group of photographers around the world. It started out basically with all white men. It is now 50/50 women and men. We are working very hard to make sure we have more photographers who are people of color.
The photographers put themselves in such dangerous positions sometimes, which to be a photographer for National Geographic, it’s more than just being a photographer. You have to have a way to control your fear like nobody’s business. Do they create the story for you? Are you sending them on a story for a specific reason? Sometimes you never know, does the picture come before that story or did they have the story and then create the photo?
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It’s both. Sometimes photographers will propose stories to us of expeditions they want to go on. They’re talking about the story that they could tell if they went to the Serengeti and covered the migration of the wildebeests. This is the kind of story that they could tell or sometimes we assign stories. Our photographers do incredible things. We did a special issue back in July 2020 on Mount Everest. If you’re going to be a writer or a photographer doing a special issue on Mount Everest, not only do you have to be a great photographer and a great writer, you also have to be a great climber. Most photographers can’t climb Mount Everest and take pictures of it at the same time. That is true of the writers as well. We’re asking people to do a lot of specialized things.
Everybody knows the picture of the Afghan girl with the amazing eyes looking right at the camera. It becomes part of an international landscape. You present the initial story, but then everybody wants to know a follow-up. With her, there was a follow-up. Did you guys facilitate the follow-up on that young woman?
We did. Her name is Sharbat Gula. Everybody just knows her as the Afghan Girl. The initial picture was taken by Steve McCurry in Afghanistan in 1984. That photo tells you the power of a still single image. We are all into moving pictures and video now, but that reminds you of the power of one image. It brought worldwide attention to the plight of Afghan refugees, more than any story could have. I used to go around the world quite a bit. Everywhere you go, you see that picture. People have it cut out and you see mock-ups of it and take offs of it. It’s probably one of the most famous pictures of the 20th century. I don’t think there’s any question about it.
Seventeen years later, we went back with that photographer and a writer to find her and to see what had become of her. We did another story about it. She’s Pakistani. She has returned now to Pakistan, but she had a hard life being a refugee. Her husband died and one of her children died. I was only about 12 or 13 when that original picture was taken. She was maybe in her early 40s when the follow-up came, but you could tell that she had lived a very difficult life.
Do you guys also do a lot to promote education conservation with children? It seems every year as a birthday gift, we get the National Geographic for Kids, the little publication that comes out that makes things so simple for them, but it gets them engaged in such a way. Our son is like the biggest whale shark fan. It’s those little things that you guys have done. How does that work in the big picture? I’m trying to understand National Geographic as an organization because you do span over many different industries whether it’s retail, these excursions that I was reading about that absolutely seem amazing to me. Can you explain the structure of National Geographic?
I don’t think most people realize how big of an organization it is. It’s an organization that’s broken into two parts. First, there’s my part. We’re called National Geographic Partners. We are 73% owned now by the Walt Disney Company, 27% owned by the nonprofit National Geographic Society, which works specifically with teachers and scientists and explorers out into the field. They discover something then we write about it and publicize it. On the for-profit side, we have a whole publications business with National Geographic Magazine, our little kid’s magazine, our history magazine, our newsstand special magazines. We have a television business, the National Geographic Channel. We produce a podcast. We have a huge digital business. We have the largest digital outreach of any media brand, whether from our Instagram account or across our social channels with Facebook, Twitter. We’ve got NationalGeographic.com. We are out there everywhere. You can find National Geographic in a lot of ways. The fastest growing part of our business is the digital part of our business. It’s a digital future.
In your bio, I saw you’re an advocate for cross-platform storytelling across all these platforms. You have landed in the right spot because you are able to make an impression across all different types of platforms.
You reach different audiences on different platforms. For our monthly print magazine, National Geographic Magazine, that audience is going to tend to be a little bit older. For those of us who grew up reading print, there’s something nice and lean back experience, but to reach that new generation of readers and users, we need to be all over digital and especially all over mobile platforms. That is the future and as we go forward, more and more people will connect to us across those digital platforms.
I see that you were finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography. No surprise in 2019. Congratulations about that. Can you tell us a little bit about that experience, about being nominated?
We were the finalist twice. In 2017, we were a finalist for explanatory reporting around our gender issue. In ‘19, we were a finalist for a story we did about a face transplant, an amazing story about a young woman who was getting a face transplant at the Cleveland Clinic. We spent almost two years as part of her life and part of her family’s life going in and out of the Cleveland Clinic while she underwent all of those procedures. It was a very moving story. It wasn’t a story about breakthrough medicine and science. It was a story about a young woman’s resilience and her family’s love. That’s why people connected to that story so much.
I remember that feature. I remember sitting down with my daughter and looking at that and trying to explain. The pictures, for a young girl was a very easy way for her to understand. She has a passion for helping people. They conveyed that through the story.
I’m so glad to hear that. It was an important story for young people. This young woman, her name is Katie Stubblefield, wants to help other young people.
It’s an incredible book. Would you call this a coffee table book?
Yes. I would call it a coffee table book. Some people call them mouse killers, but I don’t think that’s it. I didn’t say that.
When you were creating this book, you must have had an idea of what you wanted the viewer and the reader to feel when they put it down. These are volatile times and then sometimes people forget, even in our own backyard, things are happening differently for other people that aren’t that far away. We all live on the same soil. What was the idea? What did you want people to take away from the book?
We knew we were going to publish it at the time of a divisive election. We wanted to remind people that we have a lot more in common than what divides us. We were also hoping people would feel inspired. To me, that’s the biggest takeaway. I learned a lot about the poem, America the Beautiful, about the creation of it, the young woman who wrote it but I also just felt like I learned a lot about parts of the country where I haven’t been. I haven’t been to every state. When I read about Vermont, for example, it is incredibly a state I’ve never been to. I don’t understand how I have managed not to get to Vermont. It makes me feel like I’ve got to step up my game as soon as I can and travel to the places that I haven’t been because it’s a beautiful country. Every single place has something to offer. This is a big reminder of that.
We did a podcast on Vermont and spoke to Ben and Jerry’s and talked to all the locals there. It’s an amazing destination. You’ve got to get up there. You don’t live too far from it. It’s a short drive for sure.
I have no excuse whatsoever.
Susan, before we let you go, we ask all of our guests to answer our rapid-fire questions because most of our guests are world travelers, as I’m sure you are. You probably have been to a lot of places being with National Geographic. We ask these questions so you can convey to our readers tips and tricks of what you’ve done and give some of your personal experience. Have you ever completed anything on your personal bucket lists and if so, what was it?
In 2019, I went to Bhutan. I took a lot of amazing hikes.
I even think they limit the number of travelers that can go into Bhutan now, so that’s a big accomplishment.
That was my 60th birthday trip. I went with a group of women. We were all about the same age. Another woman was also celebrating her 60th. We had an amazing time. It’s a beautiful country. Spiritual, gorgeous, wonderful people and some tough hiking. All of us felt great having done it.
Number two, if you could live anywhere in the world for a year, where would it be?
This is a boring answer, but I would live in Madrid or Paris. I love both of those cities. They’re beautiful. They’re vibrant. I would like to learn to speak French, all of those pedantic things. It sounds fun.
You always hear about Paris, but Madrid is a very special city. It has much of the same feeling as Paris. If you could travel with someone infamous or famous alive or dead, who would it be?
It would be very interesting to travel with somebody like Maya Angelou or somebody who could picture the world. Unfortunately, she’s no longer living, but somebody who would see different things than I would see about the world. Someone who would have the ability to write about it or talk about it in such a magical and insightful way. I would love to travel with somebody like that.
When you’re packing for a trip, what is something that you pack that our readers might be surprised that you do?
I should caveat this by saying I am a terrible packer. I am bad, I just take everything. I always travel though with an extension cord. You find yourself in all kinds of places where you would think now that everybody understood we needed to plug in all of our devices, but sometimes you end up where there’s one outlet in the room and it’s 30 feet away and your bed is over there. I always travel with a long extension cord.
Finally, what is your most memorable experience since you have been editor-in-chief at National Geographic?
We have a writer who is walking around the world. His name is Paul Salopek. He’s doing a walk called the Out of Eden Walk. It is a 10-year, 21,000-mile walk. Right after I got to National Geographic, I went walking with him for a few days only. We were walking along the border of Syria and Turkey. We started talking about the plight of refugees. Nothing brought home to me the plight of refugees than walking along that Syrian-Turkish border, where you saw the flood of Syrian people fleeing that terrible civil war and looking for a new start at life. I will never forget that particular walk with Paul Salopek.
That’s once in a lifetime. Susan, thank you so much. It’s been an absolute pleasure. Where can our readers go to look at America the Beautiful, the book and possibly purchase it?
It’s at bookstores anywhere, NationalGeographic.com or on Amazon as well.
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What’s your Instagram tag again?
Thank you so much for your time. It’s been an absolute honor. We wish you the best of success and National Geographic again with the book. Thank you.
Thank you, Susan.
Thanks to you both. I enjoyed talking with you.
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Welcome back to this special edition of National Geographic. It was exciting and enlightening to talk to us. We could have gone on and on, but I know she’s very busy. We only have about an hour for our show. A couple of things you might not know about Susan and we didn’t talk about it because we want to focus on the publication. In 2013, she was voted one of Washington DC’s Most Influential Women in the Media by Washingtonian Magazine. In 2017 and again in ’19, Washingtonian named Susan among the most powerful women in Washington, DC.
You don’t become more of a power player until you’re in DC. In 2020, InStyle Magazine included Susan on it, Badass 50 list, naming her number seven in the issue about women who are changing the world.
She has a passion for what she’s doing, which is incredible.
Susan lives in DC. She’s got amazing accolades. The publication is just over the top. Everybody knows it. It’s a wonderful publication. With that said, we thought it would be fun to go into some photography and talk about some of the most photographed vistas, buildings, hotels.
These can be bucket list items too.
We wanted to include hotels because that’s our niche. We’re going to these places. These vistas, I was going through them all. I was like, “They could become a bucket list item for somebody who wants to travel. Let’s jump right into these because I thought they were interesting. We did some research and found out some of the most photographed. Let’s talk about the hotels first. We’re going to start with destination. Where would you think, Andy, the most photographed destination in the world is?
I would say it had to be either Paris or New York.
It’s New York City. I don’t know the metrics that they use for these, but how many times has anybody seen the skyline of New York? It’s used in backgrounds all over the world. It’s absolutely gorgeous. Some other honorable mentions were London, Paris, Dubai, Singapore, Rome, Istanbul and surprisingly Seattle.
The vista of Mount Rainier with the Space Needle is something you’ll never forget. It is gorgeous. There are few cities that can compete with Seattle in the summertime from a beauty perspective. It’s absolutely beautiful. We went there the summer of 2018 and we spent the entire time walking around the city because it was so gorgeous and the views were amazing. I’m not surprised at all that Seattle is up there.
My first trip to Seattle, I caught the top of Rainier above the clouds as we were going in. It was unforgettable.
We need to do a Destination Everywhere, but we regressed. I’m not surprised about New York. What I’m little surprised about is Dubai. It’s one of the newest cities that is well photographed. The hotel there that’s shaped like the sail, the Burj Al Arab is one of the most photographed hotels. The skyline is very photographed because of it.
The Burj Al Arab put it on the map in terms of architecture, but then you’re also seeing the world islands pop up and then the Palm Islands, which are the man-made islands that look like the world and bombs. They also have the tallest building right now, which is the Burj Khalifa, which we have in another episode, somebody from Dubai who was talking about his elevator experience at the Burj Khalifa. You’ll have to stay tuned for that one.
Al Arab is gorgeous, stunning, high-end. They claimed to be seven stars even though there’s no one that gives seven stars, but we planned a meeting there. It is gorgeous and something that everyone should see.
Speaking of hotels, let’s talk about some of the most photographed hotels. There are some great ones. I’m going through the list. We’ve planned meetings at a lot of these properties. The first one hails from our neighbor to the north of Quebec and it’s in Quebec City. That is the Fairmont, the Le Château Frontenac, which is amazing. We stayed there in 2018. It is as beautiful in person as it is in photographs.
It’s on the St. Lawrence River and it juts up like a castle off the river, up this huge windy road. It’s one of those fairy tale situations. They went through a multimillion-dollar renovation. It is gorgeous. I’m not surprised. The vista from the St. Lawrence is beautiful. I’m not surprised at all.
We have an interview with Château Frontenac. You’ll have to follow that one when we hit Quebec City. The second one that we talked about is the Burj Al Arab. It looks like a sail. Like you mentioned, Andy, it has that helicopter pad. There was a commercial that was filmed on that helicopter pad. It was a Nike commercial. I don’t want to get it wrong, but it was Agassi and somebody else playing tennis up there. If you’ve got vertigo, it makes your stomach queasy.
Here’s one of my favorite ones. Every November, we go to New York city and enjoy Thanksgiving up there. You’ve got to stop by The Plaza hotel right off of Central Park. It is decked out to the nines for the holidays. It’s such a big footprint. It’s just right there and you can’t miss it. It’s just classic New York.
All the history of New York.
It was in Home Alone and the story about the little girl living in the Plaza. One brief story about The Plaza. It was the day Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas got married. There was a group of us walking in and they stopped the group. We were planning a meeting and this was the day all the celebrities were coming in for the wedding, Michael Jackson, Liza Minnelli. I still don’t know how I got in. I got in pretty far and then I got nervous. I turned around and I walked out. I was like, “Why didn’t I keep going?” It’s an amazing property.
Let me mention something else. They’ve got a great food court at the bottom of it. I’m sure locals know about it, but I don’t think a whole lot of tourists know about it. It’s right in the basement level and it goes on forever. It has all of these great little food kiosks that you can eat all different international foods. If you’re going to Central Park and want to get an affordable bite, go into The Plaza and just head straight downstairs.
If you look, there’s a spire on top and that is Tommy Hilfiger’s apartment up there. He lives up there with his wife, but I saw an amazing tour of that online. Another one, let’s go to Singapore. It’s the Marina Bay Sands property. It’s got a massive rooftop, an infinity pool.
It’s another one you see in commercials a lot.
You see it a lot in movies as well.
Look that one up, it’s impressive.
The pool connects three buildings and it overlooks Marina Bay. It’s a gorgeous property.
Our last one is a place where we’ve done a lot of business and taking a lot of our clients too for meetings is the Bellagio in Vegas with those iconic fountains that are set to music and also the Chihuly glass inside the main lobby. It’s unbelievably beautiful. I’m not surprised it’s one of the most photographed hotels in the world.
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The Bellagio set a new standard for Vegas in terms of upping its game with elegance instead of the traditional lights and sounds of slot machines. The artwork in there is supposed to be original art, amazing, beautiful pieces and very expensive from what I hear.
Todd, are you ready to talk about the top landmarks? There’s not going to be any surprise to the number one photographed landmark on the planet.
Number one, it was built in 1889 for World’s Fair. It is the Eiffel Tower in Paris. It’s no surprise, it’s beautiful.
It’s the most visited monument in the world, followed quickly by Big Ben in London, which is another iconic one. Big Ben accidentally refers to the bell itself. The actual tower is called the Elizabeth Tower. I don’t think a lot of people know that.
I did not know that. I heard it, but I forgot it. We have another one and we’re going to go back to Paris is the Louvre. Everybody knows the iconic triangle at the entrance of the Louvre. It’s a relatively new feature. It hasn’t been around since I was a kid, but it is new and it’s extremely photographed. Another one we’re coming back to the States for, if you had to say a building in the States, which would you say?
It’s the Empire State Building.
Another iconic building in movies, but right in the middle of a Manhattan skyline. We’re talking about Burj Khalifa again. This is on three of our lists now. Burj Khalifa is a bucket list destination, the world’s tallest building. Some other honorable mentions, which these surprised me that they weren’t higher on the list, but the Statue of Liberty. I thought that would have been a top two. Notre Dame in Paris. Sagrada Familia, which is the building that’s been eternally under construction in Barcelona.
It’s the church that is slotted for another 50 years or something.
They moved the scaffolding around and then start again.
They’re trying to keep to the art form and his vision. It’s going to be awhile. When you go to The Colosseum in Rome, there are roads all around it. It’s like the pyramids in Egypt. It’s not quite easy to get your picture in front of it. You can’t go across the street to get it, but it’s one of the most photographed.
If you want the shot you want, you’re going to get hit by a car. There are roads going all around it. We also have the Machu Picchu. They almost stand in line to get this one shot because the picture everybody takes in Machu Picchu is from the same angle, from the same vista, Red Square. That’s a cool one because you go back to the Soviet Union days. You see pictures of the Red Square. It’s much different. Not the architecture, but the atmosphere.
What I love is Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro, looking over the city from the mountain top. It’s definitely one that you want to see.
The Taj Mahal in India. If you go through, you’ll see the bench that’s right in front of Taj Mahal. There are famous pictures of Princess Diana there. Prince William and Kate may have recreated that. It’s a beautiful building. Mount Fuji is one that is no surprise with the white caps on the mountains. It’s gorgeous. There’s a fountain that’s up in this list. Which fountain would you guess that is? It’s not the fountains at the Bellagio.
What country does a lot of fountains? I’m going to choose Rome. Maybe the Trevi Fountain?
It’s the Trevi Fountain, yes. There are beautiful sculptures in the Trevi Fountain.
I’ve been there several times. If you go during the day, it’s a complete madhouse. However, it is well-lit and you can go at midnight and it would be empty. You can still be able to get some great shots and be able to see it without a lot of people around. That’s a great recommendation.
The last one, it’s so long. There’s no way of not photographing it when you’re in China, but the Great Wall of China. I don’t know if there’s one point of the wall that’s more popular than others, but that’s an architectural wonder.
The last thing we’re going to talk about are vistas, the most photographed vistas on the planet. What is a vista? A vista is a view from a certain point. I don’t think any of these are going to be a surprise, but they are definitely ones that you want to put on your bucket list. The first one, Todd, is in the US and it is the Grand Canyon. I was lucky enough to do the Grand Canyon with my dad, a ten-day trip. However, the views and the number of different vistas you can get at the Grand Canyon are countless.
You mentioned that was a rafting trip through the Grand Canyon. Another one is Niagara Falls. We get to see from two different countries. We have the Canadian side and then we have the US side. Both have beautiful vantage points. Depending on what you’re looking for, each one kind has a different feel.
Canada has a great ice wine tour that you can do with lots of ice wine vineyards. Put that on your bucket list too. That’s a lot of fun.
Niagara on the Lake right there is the only place that makes legitimate ice wine. I don’t know if that’s true, but they claim that there. Another one, San Francisco Bay. I’m surprised the Golden Gate Bridge wasn’t a most photographed landmark. That shocks me.
The Florence Cityscape is another one that’s quite popular and beautiful. If you haven’t been to Florence, take your camera. The old architecture is a photographer’s dream.
We did a show about this, the West Coast of Ireland, the amazing cliffs overlooking the ocean, the cliffs of Moher.
Everyone’s seen that photo. You can walk right up to the edge. The next one is Versailles. The vistas that they’re talking about are the gardens, which we went to in Bastille Day. They do it every weekend. They have fireworks. They limit the number of people that go there. They have wine and cheese. You get to just wander the immense gardens back there. They go on forever. There are beautiful fireworks. Try to put that on your bucket list. It’s one of those special nights that I’ll never forget. It was a beautiful night and the gardens themselves are still to this day the most beautiful in the world.
For our next visit, we’re going to go down to Italy. It’s the Amalfi Coast. It is gorgeous. It looks like everything you’ve seen in pictures, even better in real life. To see it from the water, we did it by boat. I remember coming in to Positano. It was at night. The lights, you see it stacked up on the mountain.
The next one is the Serengeti in Tanzania. Everybody sees the wildebeest run that happens each year, during the great migration but one of the most photographed for sure.
The Manhattan skyline is classic. What more can you say about it? I enjoy it every time I fly in. It’s spectacular to see.
The last one surprised me, not that it doesn’t get photographed a lot but I wouldn’t have thought of it, is the Hong Kong Harbor.
That is an interesting one. I think about some of the pictures, it’s as spectacular as the Manhattan skyline is. It’s right on the water, but then the city and the architecture there is striking. It’s great.
Finally, here are some most photographic just other top. We couldn’t get to all these lists, but here’s some number ones from across the world. From our hometown, the most photographed beach on the planet is Miami Beach. It’s no surprise there.
You’ve got the deco, beautiful neon lights and always a vibrant crowd on Miami Beach.
Most photographed opera house, this is no surprise to anybody, the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia. You can get great photos of that from whatever location you are down there on the shoreline.
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We have the skyline of New York. The most photographed national park, and we’ve already touched on that one as well, also Grand Canyon and then event. We were trying to look for events and we did find one that blew the rest of them out of the water. This is the Annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. That takes place in early October in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Check some of those out and then think about those lists and look at your bucket list. Do these have a place in them? They will because I know after reading these, especially that last one, the Balloon Fiesta.
It’s an incredible show. I can’t thank Susan enough for being on the show and helping us with bucket list photography areas and her new book, America the Beautiful, that focuses specifically on great Nat Geo shots for the last 100 years. Putting it all in one coffee book was a great idea. That’s a great gift and something that people will enjoy perusing as they look through it.
If you’re not moved by the photos or if your memory is not triggered by something, there’s something not right. All of them are striking, the nature, the people and the vistas that they show are over the top. It’s gorgeous photography.
Special thanks to Susan once again.
Thank you, Susan. If you enjoyed this show, please be sure you subscribe, rate and review the show on your preferred podcast app, or by going to www.Destination-Everywhere.com. We look forward to seeing you next time on Destination Everywhere.
- National Geographic
- America the Beautiful
- @NatGeo – Instagram
- Destinations of a Lifetime
- Facebook – National Geographic
- Twitter – National Geographic
- Vermont – past episode
- Burj Al Arab
- Le Château Frontenac
- The Plaza
- Marina Bay Sands
- Eiffel Tower
- Empire State Building
- Burj Khalifa
- Statue of Liberty
- Taj Mahal
- Trevi Fountain
- Great Wall of China
- Grand Canyon
- Sydney Opera House
About Susan Goldberg
Susan Goldberg is editor in chief of National Geographic and editorial director of National Geographic Partners. As editorial director, she leads all journalism across platforms, including digital journalism, magazines, podcasts, maps, newsletters, and Instagram. She was named editorial director in October 2015 and editor in chief of National Geographic magazine in April 2014. She is the 10th editor and first female editor of the magazine since it was first published in October 1888.
Under her leadership, National Geographic has been honored with nine National Magazine Awards, including four awards in 2020 and the top prize for General Excellence in 2019. In 2020, National Geographic was also named the Webby Media Company of the Year, with a total of 15 awards, as well as earning the gold medal as Brand of the Year for the Society of Publication Designers, the most prestigious award for visual journalism in the industry. In addition, National Geographic was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography in 2019 and for Explanatory Reporting in 2017. The magazine has received numerous other awards for photography, storytelling, and graphics. Susan also has led reporting that was honored with multiple local, state, and national awards, including the Pulitzer Prize at the San Jose Mercury News (1990/Breaking News), and a finalist for the Pulitzer at the Cleveland Plain Dealer (2009/Feature Writing).
Before her employment at National Geographic, Susan was executive editor for federal, state, and local government coverage for Bloomberg News in Washington, D.C. From 2007 to 2010, she was editor of the Plain Dealer, the daily newspaper of Cleveland and the largest newspaper in Ohio. Prior to that, from 2003 to 2007, she was the executive editor of the San Jose Mercury News, and served as the paper’s managing editor from 1999 to 2003. From 1989 to 1999, Goldberg worked at USA Today, including stints as a deputy managing editor of the News, Life, and Enterprise sections. Previously, she worked as a reporter and editor at the Detroit Free Press. She began her career as a reporter at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. A Michigan native, Susan has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Michigan State University, where she now funds the Susan Goldberg Scholarship at the university’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences’ School of Journalism.
In addition to awards for journalism, Susan has been recognized repeatedly for leadership. In 2013, she was voted one of Washington D.C.’s 11 most influential women in the media by Washingtonian magazine; in March 2015, Susan received the Exceptional Woman in Publishing Award from Exceptional Women in Publishing. In 2017 and again in 2019, Washingtonian named Susan among the most powerful women in Washington D.C. across professions. In 2020, InStyle magazine included Susan on its “Badass 50” list, naming her as number seven in its issue about “women who are changing the world,” and she was selected as one of Folio’s Top Women in Media for having an “exceptional impact” on the direction of the industry.
Susan lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband, Geoffrey Etnire, a real estate lawyer. They have one grown son.
As a host from National Geographic, Susan will join the Future of Everything: Exploring Global Innovation by Private Jet expedition from Mongolia to Boston.
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