From Laguna Hills to Moscow, 25 top travel finds of 2013

There are plenty of lists for travelers on the Internet, especially at year's end. But this collection, which ranges from a pit stop in Laguna Hills to a power lunch in Moscow, is different from many. Why? Because there's no aggregation here and no hearsay admitted. I've been to every one of these places in the last year, got no freebies or press discounts along the way, and had a great time anyway. Many are free. Some require a chunk of change or a lot of patience (Russian visa, anyone?), but all delivered rewards to remember. I've put them in alphabetical order by geography.