In lieu of something inspiring today, and having just played a few of them, I thought I'd share my favorite board games (and why) in case any of you are inspired to try something new for the first time, or looking for a better time than Monopoly!
1) Dominion A fabulous introduction to more intense games that shines in a world of bad games. It's card-based, and each game is different, because you use a combination of cards to create a 'deck' for the game -- some games allow attacking players, others don't at all. Even better, it doesn't take much time to pick up! Most people who play with us end up buying a copy!
2) Tikal A board game where you have to explore an unknown map full of volcanoes and uncover artifact sites before your competitors do... really fun, weird, and it takes a good amount of time. Genuinely a great, original concept.
3) Articulate! Good for all the family (and the game we just played, by the way). Essentially, talk as fast as you can, and explain as many words from the cards as possible without saying them in two minutes. So competitive, but always a good time.
4) Carcassonne A city-building board game based on tiles, where you place squares down to build your city, castle, or fields, to get the most points. It's over in thirty minutes, and fairly easy to bring on vacation too.
5) Bonus nerd points: Battlestar Galactica (the game) I really, really dig board games that take a long time to play, and this is one of the best, most immersive games I've ever played that unfortunately seems nerdy on the surface because of the name. It's based on the new TV series, but it's one of the better strategy board games out there.
Our sessions back in my university days would begin at 9PM and sometimes continue until 4AM, because we were so deep in trying to save the ship from destruction... yeah.
Honorable mentions: Catan (start here if you don't play anything), Bananagrams, Alhambra.