Ocean City, New Jersey, pictured here before Superstorm Sandy, is just one of many popular spots on the shore that are working steadily toward welcoming visitors this year in the wake of the hurricane.
(Julie Feinstein / Dreamstime.com)
Long Beach Island's iconic Barnegat Lighthouse is a symbol of the shore's determination to come roaring back after the damage caused by Sandy last fall. This photo was taken prior to the storm, which damaged the lighthouse's Fresnel lens.
(Sylvana Rega / Dreamstime.com)
Atlantic City, New Jersey, is telling anyone and everyone that, contrary to rumor, its boardwalk was not destroyed by Sandy.
(Courtesy Bob Jagendorf/Wikimedia Commons)
While the classic Fishing Pier in historic Ocean Grove, New Jersey, sustained significant damage during Superstorm Sandy, the community is rallying to return it to its pre-storm condition (as it's shown here).
(Andrew Kazmierski / Dreamstime.com)
Tartus, Syria, has been a thriving Mediterranean port since ancient times. But anti-government violence throughout the country makes Syria a definite "don't go."
(Olga Kolos / Dreamstime.com)
Put the classic colonnade of Syria's Apamea ruins on your "someday" list.
(Antonella865 / Dreamstime.com)
This is the view from the Castle of Krak des Chevaliers in Syria. One of the world's best-preserved medieval castles, it dates back to the Crusades but is off-limits to Americans because of a different kind of conflict—the violent anti-government unrest currently rocking the country.
(Rafał Cichawa / Dreamstime.com)
It's tempting to think that a quiet small town in Syria could be immune from the current unrest, but the U.S. Department of State warns that no area in the country is safe from violence right now.
(Berna Namoglu / Dreamstime.com)
Torii Gate, in Miyajima, Japan, is one of the island nation's most beautiful sights—at high tide the gate appears to float on the water.
(Chuongy / Dreamstime.com)
At more than 12,000 feet high, Mount Fuji is the tallest peak in Japan, inspiring hundreds of thousands of people to climb each year. An active volcano about 60 miles outside Tokyo, the mountain last erupted more than 300 years ago.
(Image Focus / Dreamstime.com)
Tokyo is home to more than 13 million people and is renowned for world-class shopping, seafood, and hospitality.
(Irfan Nurdiansyah / Dreamstime.com)
Nakamise dori leads to the beautiful Senso-Ji Temple in the Asakusa district of Tokyo, Japan. With tourism up 30 percent in 2012, Japan is recovering nicely from the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck in March 2011.
(Mihai-bogdan Lazar / Dreamstime.com)
Don't let the potential for political demonstrations make you miss major Egyptian landmarks like the Great Sphinx of Giza. Popular tourists sites are safe and open for business.
(Courtesy Citypeek/Wikimedia Commons)
A classic view for the Cairo Tower—the tallest structure in Egypt and one of many spots in the capital that are perfectly safe as long as you stay abreast of the potential for public demonstrations in major city squares.
(Courtesy Esperanza1871/Wikimedia Commons)
A busy market street in Esna, Egypt. When visiting, exercise the same caution you would in any crowded public area, and if a political demonstration starts, stay clear of it.
(Marcin Ciesielski / Sylwia Cisek / Dreamstime.com)
Traveling to Luxor and its nearby pyramids is a must—and as safe as it has ever been.
(Mikael Damkier / Dreamstime.com)
The BBC named Santorini, Greece, the "world's best island" in 2011. The economic downturn and protests against austerity measures have not dampened enthusiasm for visiting this safe, gorgeous island in the Aegean Sea.
(Arsty / Dreamstime.com)
While you should be wary of public demonstrations and the potential for petty street crime (like pickpocketing and purse-snatching) while in Athens, popular spots like the ancient Acropolis are must-sees.
(Courtesy Rob & Lisa Meehan/Wikimedia Commons)
The Aegean island of Hydra is a popular tourist destination for Athenians and one of the many Greek islands where American tourists will find an indulgent, sun-drenched getaway.
(Andreas Karelias / Dreamstime.com)
The Greek Orthodox monasteries at Meteora, Greece, are built on natural sandstone pillars.
(Dan Breckwoldt / Dreamstime.com)
While people-to-people tours focus on culture and education, Cuba boasts some of the world's most beautiful natural wonders, including Vinales, shown here.
(Victor Zastol`skiy / Dreamstime.com)
Caribbean beaches such as Cayo Guillermo once made Cuba a magnet for American tourists. Will the thaw in relations with our neighbor lead to a resurgence in tourism?
(Tupungato / Dreamstime.com)
Once off-limits to all but the most intrepid of American tourists, Havana, Cuba, is now open to those who book a "people-to-people" tour that focuses on education.
(Laurence Agron / Dreamstime.com)
A trip to Cuba is not complete without a sightseeing trip in one of its iconic taxis.
(Alex Bramwell / Dreamstime.com)
The beaches and waters of Ibiza, Spain, may remind you of the Caribbean, and deliver a complete escape from the real world, including economic and political turmoil.
(Michal Bednarek / Dreamstime.com)
Girona, Spain, is Barcelona's little neighbor that could, offering a historic Old Quarter and the world-class dining you associate with much larger Spanish cities.
(Freesurf69 / Dreamstime.com)
Toledo, Spain, is an unforgettable dream of medieval castles, gothic architecture, and art museums. Though the nation has been rocked by unemployment and protests against economic austerity, visiting Spain just requires that you be on guard for petty crime as you would in any major city.
(Reiley / Dreamstime.com)
While public protests in Barcelona, Spain, have demanded independance in response to government austerity measures, this is a vibrant city that welcomes visitors like no other. But if a demonstration starts, steer clear—passersby have been swept up along with protesters by the police.
(Victor Zastol`skiy / Dreamstime.com)
Jerusalem, Israel, is home to the Temple Mount and Western Wall, shown here during Shabbat. Jerusalem is a safe and thriving metropolis, but it's best to avoid religious sites during holy days and weekends due to potential congestion and, sometimes, political demonstrations.
(Courtesy David Shankbone/Wikimedia Commons)
The Dead Sea is one of Israel's most iconic landmarks, not only a natural wonder—the lowest elevation on earth—but also the site of significant archeological discoveries, such as the ancient library now known as the Dead Sea Scrolls.
(Zaretskaya / Dreamstime.com)
View of the Golan, which is home to more than 20,000 Israelis. As tensions with neighboring Syria mount over the internal conflict in Syria, Israel is considering methods of keeping inhabitants of the Golan safe.
(Larisap / Dreamstime.com)
Haifa, Israel, is one of the country's most vibrant metropolises, and despite ongoing political and religious conflicts in the region, the U.S. Department of State reports that it is as safe as any major city in the developed world.
(Maria Wachala / Dreamstime.com)
Haiti shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic, but its natural beauty belies its don't-visit status—crime, cholera, and demolished infrastructure due to the earthquake three years ago have left the country with few resources to keep visitors safe.
(Lawrence Weslowski Jr / Dreamstime.com)
Haiti's beaches will have to wait—the U.S. Department of State warns that no American visitor is safe from the threat of violence in the impoverished country.
(James Colin / Dreamstime.com)
Port-au-Prince, Haiti, was hit hard by the magnitude-7 earthquake that struck in 2010. The government is spending billions just to restore basic services, and the threat of crime is high.
(Arindam Banerjee / Dreamstime.com)
Founded more than 300 years ago, the city of Jacmel, Haiti, was badly damaged by the 2010 earthquake, and a subsequent tsunami swept into its bay.
(Courtesy Doron/Wikimedia Commons)
Sure, you need to steer clear of border regions and less-populated ares where drug-trafficking and crime pose real threats to American tourists, but popular resort areas such as Cancun, Mexico, remain super-safe and welcoming.
(Courtesy Mardetanha/Wikimedia Commons)
The Mesoamerican step-pyramid at Chichen Itza—a well-trod destination that gets our thumbs-up—is nicknamed El Castello.
(Courtesy Fcb981/Wikimedia Commons)
Ik-Kil Cenote, in Chichen Itza, Mexico, may be frightening for its dark depths, but the region poses no other threats to American visitors.
(Subbotina / Dreamstime.com)
A bird's-eye view of the Zocalo in downtown Mexico City. Stay at a major hotel and observe the same safety measures you would when visiting any major city and you'll be perfectly secure.
(Alexandre Fagundes De Fagundes / Dreamstime.com)