Here are 14 centennials and one quincentennial (500) worth putting on your travel calendar for 2015.
Hakone Estate & Gardens
One hundred years ago, Isabel and Oliver Stine of San Francisco started work on building an authentic replica of a shogun's estate at their hillside home in Saratoga, Calif. Now the 18-acre site with waterfalls, koi ponds and hillside gardens claims the title as the oldest Japanese garden in the Western Hemisphere. The city now runs it, and the gardens remain a tranquil oasis for all who visit. Go between March and November to add a formal tea ceremony to your visit of this amazing, out-of-the-way garden. Info: hakone.com
On Anzac Day, an acronym for the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, these two countries honor their war dead. Anzac troops landed in Gallipoli, Turkey, on April 25, 1915, to help the Allies during World War I. They lost the tough eight-month battle, and the day is a reminder of their tenacity and courage. Travelers can visit Gallipoli (many cruises and tours are planned during the centennial year) and take the Anzac Walk that passes by a memorial and key beaches in the battle. Info: lat.ms/16BgI0f
Ukuleles became a big hit in the Bay Area and throughout the Lower 48 after visitors saw musicians playing the tiny stringed instrument at San Francisco's Panama-Pacific International Exposition in 1915. These days, you can find a ukulele festival or concert in nearly every state.
Two uke-affirming places: Palm Springs Ukulele Festival 2015, Feb. 6 to 8 (lat.ms/1zeKyn6) and the fabulous Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix (mim.org). The museum's collection includes a 1915 ukulele owned by Leonardo Nunes, whose father gets credit for bringing the ukulele to Hawaii in the 19th century.
Francis Albert Sinatra was born Dec. 12, 1915, in Hoboken, N.J., and died May 14, 1998, in Los Angeles. For his centennial year, a trip to the library is in order — the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center in New York City.
The exhibition "Sinatra: An American Icon" at the library will display film footage of concerts and interviews, personal correspondence and host film screenings. The show is slated to come to L.A. and other destinations after its New York run ends Sept. 4. Info: lat.ms/1wMNlBQ
Édith Piaf was born a week after Sinatra on Dec. 19, 1915. France's most popular cabaret singer — "La Vie en Rose" was her anthem — is buried at Paris' Père Lachaise cemetery (as are Jim Morrison, Gertrude Stein and Isadora Duncan). If you want to lay a rose on her grave, look for the marker that says "Madame Lamboukas dite Édith Piaf." The surname comes from her last husband.
Rocky Mountain National Park
While much of the world was at war, President Wilson took time to set aside some of America's most breathtaking scenery. He signed off on this Colorado national park after people such as Enos Mills, a John Muir-like figure, lobbied for its creation. Centennial hikes and exhibitions in and around the park will take place next year, but swing by for cake on Jan. 26, the park's official birthday. Info: lat.ms/1AnyfUo
Dinosaur National Monument
Lesser known but no less impressive Dinosaur National Monument in Colorado and Utah was created after the discovery of 150-million-year-old beds of dinosaur fossils. The best way to mark its centennial? Start with a visit to the monument and seek out the bones, specifically the Wall of Bones at the Quarry Exhibit Hall in Jensen, Utah. Info: www.nps.gov/dino
Lincoln Memorial groundbreaking
The rock-solid Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., may seem as though it has stood forever, but the cornerstone was laid in 1915 on Lincoln's birthday, Feb. 12. It wasn't dedicated until 1922. You can visit any time day or night to marvel at architect Henry Bacon's Greek temple-style memorial and Daniel Chester French's statue of Lincoln created from white Georgia marble. Info: www.nps.gov/linc
World Series milestone
Aside from becoming the 28th U.S. president, Wilson holds another important distinction: He became the first president to attend a World Series game. It was Oct. 9, a game between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Boston Red Sox. The Red Sox won. Mark the centennial of this presidential act by visiting the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum in Staunton, Va. (woodrowwilson.org), or the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. (baseballhall.org).
Sinking of the Lusitania
"On 7th May 1915, the town of Cobh saw a human catastrophe on a scale that it has not experienced since," the town's website says. Cobh, on the southern coast of Ireland, witnessed the aftermath of the sinking of the British ocean liner Lusitania, in which almost 1,200 people died.
A single torpedo from a German submarine exploded the liner, which was sailing from New York City to England and hastened America's entry into World War I. To mark the event, visit the Lusitania Peace Memorial in Cobh. Info: lat.ms/1z56wUH
Typhoid Mary, really Irish immigrant Mary Mallon, was a cook who was a healthy and asymptomatic carrier of the typhoid germ, not a good combination for those who hired her. She had been imprisoned once on North Brother Island in New York City but ultimately was released.
She was quarantined a second time in 1915 and never left North Brother Island, where she died in 1938. A good place to learn more about our contagious past and present: the David J. Sencer Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Museum in Atlanta. Info: www.cdc.gov/museum
The Claremont Hotel & Spa
The Claremont Hotel & Spa in Berkeley opened in 1915, a decade after construction began (plans were disrupted by the 1906 earthquake). This large Tudor-style affair may look more at home in the English countryside, but that's part of its charm. It boasts sweeping views of San Francisco Bay from its perch on the Oakland-Berkeley line. Go to look around or stay overnight; rooms start at $249 a night on New Year's Eve. Info: www.claremontresort.com
If chunky, brightly colored bowls that withstand high temperatures are your thing, put the centennial of Pyrex on your must list. The Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, N.Y., covers a lot of history and on June 6 will open "America's Favorite Dish: Celebrating a Century of Pyrex." Info: www.cmog.org
Happy birthday, Miami Beach! The resort city that incorporated on March 26, 1915, packs a lot into its seven square miles of little islands connected by causeways: the cool clubs and sandy spots of SoBe (South Beach) and the Art Deco district's hotels. Where to party? Hardly a difficult question for a place that calls itself the World's Playground. Keep an eye on the week of March 22-26 when a "100-hour extravaganza" is supposed to unfold. For a list of events: lat.ms/1z53CiF
Cuba's capital — San Cristóbal de la Habana, as it was originally called — was founded in 1515. Four years later, the city shifted to the site of modern-day Havana, which plans to celebrate its founding in 2019. But Havana's quincentennial deserves a shout-out now because 2015 may well shape up to be the Year of Cuba. American travelers are pumped up to visit after President Obama's recent announcement that the U.S. would resume diplomatic ties with the island nation. Tour operators say go now to see the authentic charm of Havana and the rest of the island that's been trapped in a time bubble for more than 50 years. Many travel companies, museums, cultural organizations, even church groups offer people-to-people exchange tours to Cuba.