As rugged and robust as the Outback that surrounds it, Alice Springs is still an affably quirky town that sits at the literal heart of Australia. The gateway to some of the nation’s most famous sights, The Alice (as it’s often called) also has a number of excellent restaurants and galleries of Aboriginal art. At its historic sites, travelers can learn about the Aboriginal people’s way of life, then and now, as well as the epic history of later settlers. It is also an ideal base to venture out into the craggy, red-hued MacDonnell Ranges, where the gorges and hills, dotted with white gum trees, are best explored in 4WD vehicles or atop mountain bikes. For a bird’s-eye view, board a hot-air balloon and float above the landscape.