World’s 30 Best Travel Destinations, Ranked

Best places to visit in the world.

Bali, one of the best travel destinations

The ultimate ranking of travel destinations aims to solve a serious problem: so many places to visit, so little time.

But even in a world with a trillion destinations, some manage to stand out and rise to the top. From the sleek skyscrapers of Dubai to the emerald-green waters of the Bora Bora lagoon, you’re sure to find at least one vacation that piques your interest (and likely several!).

These are the 30 best places to visit in the world. Which ones have you already been to? And which ones stoke your wanderlust most?

30. Argentine Patagonia

Traveler in Argentine Patagonia

In this region of the Andes, you’ll find glaciers, evergreen trees, deep blue lakes and clear skies everywhere you look. For a trip full of adventure and discovery, there are few better destinations on the planet.

No trip is complete without a visit to the craggy Mount Fitz Roy, the historic (and mysterious) Cave of the Hands, the Punta Tombo wildlife preserve, the Peninsula Valdes marine wildlife refuge and the impressive Perito Moreno Glacier. Be sure to bring your camera and your sense of wonder.

* Rankings are based on U.S. News & World Report's " World's Best Places to Visit ," traveler ratings as well as our own editorial input.

What to Know Before You Go to Argentine Patagonia

Argentine Patagonia Glacier National Park

Where to stay: Cyan Soho Neuquen Hotel

Hot tip: Since springtime occurs in the southern hemisphere in October and November, those months are your best bet when planning a trip.

Fun fact: The largest dinosaur fossils ever unearthed were found in Argentine Patagonia. They belong to the largest-known titanosaur, believed to have weighed about 83 tons. 

Note: We may earn money from affiliate partners if you buy through links on our site.

29. Amalfi Coast, Italy

Campania, Amalfi Coast

Set in the Sorrentina Peninsula, the Amalfi Coast has long been renowned for its natural beauty and idyllic coastal towns. During the golden age of Hollywood, it was a preferred vacation spot for glamorous movie stars.

Days here are spent eating Italian food, drinking wine and walking around colorful cobblestone streets. You can also expect to drink copious amounts of wine as you look out into the Mediterranean Sea.

The best way to see the coast is to rent a car and then drive to different towns each day.

What to Know Before You Go to the Amalfi Coast

Amalfi Coast road

Where to stay: Hotel Marina Riviera

Hot tip:  If you're planning on using a beach chair to work on your tan, make sure you wake up early, as they are usually first come, first served.

Fun fact:  The Amalfi Coast is featured in Sofia Loren's 1995 Film, "Scandal in Sorrento."

28. Cancun, Mexico

Beach sunset in Cancun

For years, Cancun has been the preferred getaway for East Coast Americans (particularly Floridians) who want an international getaway that's still close to home. But despite the droves of tourists, the area has managed to keep the charm that attracted people in the first place.

The city is known mostly for its luxury hotels, wild nightlife and warm beaches. Definitely indulge in all of these — as well as the Mexican food! — but also consider other activities like visiting Mayan ruins, swimming in cenotes and snorkeling. One thing is certain: You won't run out of things to do in Cancun .

What to Know Before You Go to Cancun

Cenote Zaci, Mexico

Where to stay: Hyatt Zilara Cancun

Hot tip:  While you're in Cancun, make a plan to visit one of Grupo Xcaret's six eco-tourism parks, with the best ones being Xcaret and Xelha. The Mexican-owned company is credited with starting the eco-tourism trend in the Yucatan Peninsula, and the parks offer incredible and varied local experiences.

Fun fact:  The Yucatan Peninsula, where Cancun is located, was the cultural, political and economic center of the Mayan civilization. Many locals have Mayan ancestry and Mayan continues to be widely spoken in the area.

27. San Francisco, California

Close up of Golden Gate Bridge

Everyone should visit San Francisco at least once in their lives. Though tech companies grab all the headlines these days, it remains down-to-earth, diverse and packed with things to do.

Where to start? No matter your style, you’ll want to check out the world-famous Golden Gate Bridge, see the sunbathing sea lions at Fisherman’s Wharf, take a tour of the historic prison Alcatraz and relax in one of the city’s many parks, especially Dolores Park for its epic people-watching on the weekends. 

For dinner, treat your tastebuds and make a reservation at one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants in the Bay Area .

What to Know Before You Go to San Francisco

San Francisco houses

Where to stay: The Westin St. Francis San Francisco on Union Square

Hot tip: Want similarly beautiful landscapes and rich cultural attractions, but at lower prices and with (slightly) fewer crowds? Head to Oakland just across the Bay Bridge, named one of the most exciting places on earth to travel by National Geographic. 

Fun fact: The fortune cookie was invented in San Francisco by a Japanese resident. Random!

26. Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls in autumn Canadian side

Niagara Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in the world . The power with which water storms down cliffs on the border between the United States and Canada has captivated the imagination of humans for centuries. 

This natural wonder is comprised of three awe-inspiring falls. One of the best ways to experience them is on a boat tour.

What to Know Before You Go to Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls boat tour

Where to stay: Sheraton Niagara Falls

Hot tip: There is some debate about which side of the falls is better, but the general verdict is that the Canadian side offers better views. This is because you can (ironically) get a better view of the American Falls as well as get up close to Horseshoe Falls. 

Fun fact:  Established in 1885, Niagara Falls State Park is the oldest state park in the U.S.

25. Yellowstone National Park

Bison at the Great Prismatic Spring

Located mostly in Wyoming as well as Montana and Idaho, Yellowstone is America’s first national park and remains one of the most popular in the country, welcoming more than around 3.3 million people in 2022. With unpredictable geysers, rainbow-colored hot springs, craggy peaks, shimmering lakes and tons of wildlife — from elk to boars to bison — it’s easy to see why so many people flock here. 

The park makes for an awesome family trip and is well-suited to budget travelers since it offers so many campsites ( over 2,000! ). 

What to Know Before You Go to Yellowstone

Old Faithful Geiser erupting, Yellowstone

Where to stay: Stage Coach Inn

Hot tip: You’ll never fully beat the crowds at this wildly popular park, but April, May, September and November are your best bets for finding some solitude.  

Fun fact: Yellowstone is larger than Rhode Island and Delaware combined.  

24. Great Barrier Reef, Australia

snorkle Destinations: Great Barrier Reef, Australia

As the largest reef in the world, the Great Barrier Reef is home to thousands of marine species. This makes it a paradise for scuba diving or snorkeling. 

The reef system is truly gigantic, with over 600 islands and about 2,900 individual reefs. This is one of Australia's greatest prides, but it's also a planetary national treasure. Seeing it with your own two eyes is an experience that is incredible beyond words.

What to Know Before You Go to the Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef from above

Where to stay: Crystalbrook Flynn

Hot tip: Though going underwater to see the reef is a must, we also recommend booking a helicopter tour to experience the magic of it from above.

Fun fact:  Made of corals, which are animals that live in collectives, the Great Barrier Reef is the largest living structure on the planet.

23. Santorini, Greece

White washed houses in Santorini

With its picturesque blue-domed churches, whitewashed buildings and colorful beaches, the island of Santorini is a photographer’s paradise. If you want to snap photos to post to Instagram and make everyone back home jealous, this is the place to go. 

Also make sure to experience some of Santorini’s archaeologically significant sites, like Ancient Akrotiri (an ancient city preserved by volcanic ash) and Ancient Thera (where humans lived as early as the 9th century BC). And don’t forget to visit the smaller islands that surround it, including Thirassia, Nea Kameni and Palea Kameni. 

What to Know Before You Go to Santorini

Santorini houses

Where to stay: Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Santorini

Hot tip: To optimize your vacation, visit in September and October or April and May — when the weather is still warm, but there aren’t as many other tourists milling around.

Fun fact: While it’s difficult to prove, locals like to say there’s more wine than water on this island where it hardly rains (and vino abounds).

22. Florence, Italy

Florience center, Italy

For art and history buffs (and anyone who appreciates delicious Italian food), Florence is a must-visit city. 

As the birthplace of the Renaissance, it’s home to some of the most iconic artworks by the world’s premier artists throughout history — Michaelangelo, Brunelleschi and Donatello, just to name a few. In addition to art museums and architectural wonders, Florence is also home to chic shops, quaint cafes and spectacular gardens. 

What to Know Before You Go to Florence

Il Duomo, Florence

Where to stay:  NH Collection Firenze Porta Rossa

Hot tip: Keep Florence in mind if you want to spend your honeymoon in Europe without spending a fortune, according to U.S. News & World Report.

Fun fact: The city’s famed “El Duomo” cathedral took over 140 years to build .

21. Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite Falls

Yosemite, one of the most-visited national parks in America with more than 4 million annual guests, encompasses 750,000 acres of wilderness just waiting to be explored.

It’s home to scenic waterfalls, like the 317-foot Vernal Fall and the 617-foot Bridalveil Fall, as well as iconic rock formations like El Capitan and Half Dome, two popular spots for the world’s best rock climbers to test their mettle.

Not surprisingly, the wildlife here also impresses. Dozens of species of butterflies, marmots, bobcats and mule deer are just some of the animals that call Yosemite home. And keep your eyes peeled for black bears; some 300 to 500 roam the park . 

What to Know Before You Go to Yosemite

Yosemite National Park

Where to stay:  The Ahwahnee

Hot tip: Summer can get really busy here, so if you want to camp, be sure to book a spot early. Want to beat Yosemite’s notoriously bad traffic? Ditch the car and take advantage of the park’s extensive free bus system.

Fun fact: This is one of the only places in the country where you can catch a moonbow — like a rainbow, but created by the light of the moon instead of the sun. 

20. St. Lucia

St. Lucia Les Pitons

Whether you’re visiting on a cruise ship or just relaxing at an all-inclusive resort or boutique hotel, stunning St. Lucia is a clear winner. This Caribbean island offers diverse terrain for vacationers, from its pristine beaches to its lush rainforests to its volcanic peaks, the Pitons, that loom over the landscape. 

Adrenaline-junkies love hiking, climbing and zip-lining, while newlyweds (and soon-to-be-married couples) enjoy the romantic mix of fine dining, adults-only resorts and exotic activities. 

What to Know Before You Go to St. Lucia

St. Lucia boats

Where to stay: Rabot Hotel From Hotel Chocolat

Hot tip: Visit when temperatures are moderate, which is typically in May and June.

Fun fact: St. Lucia is the only country named after a woman: Christian martyr Saint Lucia of Syracuse.

19. Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Dubai skyscrappers

Everything is bigger and better in Dubai, home to one of the world’s largest shopping malls, tallest towers, largest man-made marinas — and the list goes on. 

This Las Vegas-like urban center in the United Arab Emirates has an eclectic mix of activities for visitors to enjoy, including beaches, waterparks, tons of shopping and even an indoor ski resort. Outside the skyscraper-filled city, the vast desert awaits, best enjoyed via quad-biking or sandboarding.

What to Know Before You Go to Dubai

Dubai beach

Where to stay:  Five Palm Jumeirah Dubai

Hot tip: Though you’re likely to pay a pretty penny for a trip to Dubai no matter when you visit, you can save a little cash by visiting during the scalding-hot summer months and by booking your hotel room two to three months in advance.

Fun fact: Dubai’s man-made Palm Islands were constructed using enough imported sand to fill up 2.5 Empire State Buildings . 

18. Machu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

Many travelers describe their visit to Machu Picchu as life-changing. Why? It’s an archaeological wonder, the remains of an ancient Incan city dating back more than 600 years. No wonder this is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most-visited attraction in all of Peru. 

Be sure to visit significant sites like Funerary Rock, where it’s believed Incan nobility were mummified, and Temple of the Condor, a rock temple sculpted to look like the impressive bird in its name.  

What to Know Before You Go to Machu Picchu

Llamas in Machu Picchu

Where to stay: Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel

Hot tip: If you’re planning a trip, be sure to get your ticket in advance, as only 2,500 people can visit Machu Picchu each day. (And a lot of people have this destination on their bucket list.)

Fun fact: The site contains more than 100 separate flights of stairs . 

17. Sydney, Australia

Sydney Harbor with boats

With its iconic Opera House and lively Bondi Beach, Sydney is the perfect spot to vacation if you’re looking for a blend of culture, arts, nightlife and relaxation. 

Spend the day on the water at Darling Harbour, then head to the Royal Botanic garden for even more fresh air. Want to travel like a local? Get a ticket to a rugby match and order a Tim Tam, a popular chocolate-covered cookie that pairs well with coffee. 

What to Know Before You Go to Sydney

Sydney Opera House in the evening

Where to stay: Four Seasons Hotel Sydney

Hot tip: You can make your trip more affordable by visiting during Sydney’s shoulder seasons, which are typically September through November and March through May.

Fun fact: In 2007, Bondi Beach was the site of the largest ever swimsuit photoshoot ; 1,010 bikini-clad women participated, enough to earn it a spot in the Guinness World Records book.

16. Grand Canyon, Arizona

Grand Canyon from observation point

The Grand Canyon is truly massive (277 river miles long and up to 18 miles wide!), which helps explain why so many people feel the urge to see it in person. 

In 2022, 4.7 million people visited, making the Grand Canyon the second-most popular national park in the country (behind Great Smoky Mountain Nationals Park). Established in 1919, the park offers activities for all ability levels, whether you want to do an intense hike down into the canyon and sleep under the stars (with a backcountry permit, of course) or simply want to saunter along the South Rim Trail, an easy walking path with views that wow.

What to Know Before You Go to the Grand Canyon

Family in the Grand Canyon

Where to stay:  The Grand Hotel at the Grand Canyon

Hot tip: If you’ve wanted to visit the Grand Canyon for a while now, this is the year to do it. The park is celebrating its 100th birthday with musical performances, lectures, screenings and other special events.

Fun fact: The most remote community in the continental U.S. can be found in the Grand Canyon. At the base of the canyon, Supai Village — part of the Havasupi Indian Reservation — has a population of 208. It’s inaccessible by road, and mail is delivered by pack mule. Want to see it for yourself? The village houses a collection of campsites , accessible via a hiking trail.

15. Bali, Indonesia

Landmark Temple Gates in Bali

In recent years, Bali has become a popular expat destination, where groups of "digital nomads" work and play. 

But the island hasn't lost its original charm to this added tourism and continues to be an incredible destination. Divide your time between swimming in the beach, hiking active volcanoes, visiting temples and enjoying views of tiered rice terraces.

What to Know Before You Go to Bali

Pura Ulun Danu Bratan temple in Bali

Where to stay: Hotel Indigo Bali Seminyak Beach

Hot tip:  Though shoulder season (January to April and October to November) means fewer crowds and cheaper prices, it also means rain. Tons of it. We'd recommend avoiding the rainy season if possible.

Fun fact: On the Saka New Year, Balinese people celebrate Nyepi. This Hindu celebration is a day of silence when everything on the island shuts down and no noise is allowed.

14. New York, New York

New York City Manhattan

As the saying goes, New York City is “the city that never sleeps” — and you won’t want to either when you visit, lest you run out of time to take it all in. 

Be sure to check out newer attractions, like the High Line (an elevated park) and Hudson Yards (a mega-mall along the Hudson River), but also make time for some New York City classics, like catching a Broadway show or standing under the lights of Times Square. 

Foodies will have a hard time choosing where to eat (the city is home to almost 100 Michelin stars !), which is why an extended trip is always a good idea.

What to Know Before You Go to New York City

New York City Broadway

Where to stay: The Beekman, A Thompson Hotel

Hot tip: Yes, January and February get cold here, but this is also the best time to lock in relatively reasonable hotel rates. You can spend your time eating in the city’s restaurants, exploring its fabulous museums and catching its world-class theater shows without needing to spend much time in the chilly outdoors. 

Fun fact: There’s a birth in New York City about every 4.4 minutes — and a death every 9.1 minutes. 

13. Banff National Park, Canada

Banff Lake Louise

Some of the world’s most stunning mountain scenery and vistas are located in Banff, the tiny Canadian town located at 4,537 feet above sea level inside the national park by the same name. Banff is the highest town in Canada, and Banff National Park was Canada’s first, established in 1885.

Shred some powder at Banff’s three ski resorts in the winter, then come back in the summer for activities like hiking, biking, fishing and scrambling (scaling steep terrain using nothing but your hands).

What to Know Before You Go to Banff

Kayaking in Banff National Park

Where to stay: Fairmont Banff Springs

Hot tip: June to August and December to March are the best times to visit if you want to take advantage of summer and winter activities. 

Fun fact: Banff National Park has more than 1,000 glaciers.

12. Maldives

Sunset in the Maldives

You can look at picture after picture, but you still really need to visit the Maldives to believe its beauty. If rich sunsets, flour-like beaches and vibrant blue waters are your style, this is the destination for you. 

Though it’s somewhat difficult to get to this small island nation southwest of Sri Lanka, that also means it’s incredibly private and secluded, which makes it the perfect spot for a honeymoon or romantic beach getaway. 

And don’t worry about getting bored, either — explore the water by snorkeling or scuba diving, relax in the spa or wander around the bustling Male’ Fish Market.

What to Know Before You Go to Maldives

Maldives overwater bungalows

Where to stay: Velassaru Maldives

Hot tip: May to October is the island-nation’s rainy season — but that also means it’s the best time to go for fewer crowds and better rates.

Fun fact: In 1153 AD, the nation’s people converted to Islam. Today, the Maldives remains the most heavily Muslim country on earth.

11. Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona, Sagrada Familia

Soccer, architecture, shopping, nightlife, world-class food and wine, arts and culture — is there anything Barcelona doesn’t have? If there is, we honestly can't think what it would be. 

This cosmopolitan Spanish city is home to some awe-inspiring architecture, including several buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi, so be sure to book tours of his whimsical creations like Park Guell and the yet-to-be-finished Church of the Sacred Family (La Sagrada Familia). 

For nightlife and shopping, Las Ramblas is always bustling; for an enriching arts experience, follow the progression of famed artist Pablo Picasso at Museo Picasso.

What to Know Before You Go to Barcelona

Barcelona Park Guell

Where to stay:  Hotel Bagues

Hot tip: It can get really humid here, so it's best to plan your trip in May and June before things really heat up.

Fun fact: In preparation for its 1992 hosting of the Olympics, the city flew in sand from as far away as Egypt to make Barceloneta Beach a place where people would want to go. Though largely man-made, the beach remains a wonderful spot for seaside R&R. 

10. Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier National Park in the winter

The crown jewel of beautiful Montana, Glacier National Park is every outdoors traveler's dream.

Of course, the most defining natural feature of the park are its glaciers, which provide spectacular views as well as a number of pristine lakes. There are hundreds of trails that will take you up peaks, down through valleys and across some of the most beautiful landscapes you'll ever see.

What to Know Before You Go to Glacier National Park

Mountain goats at Glacier National Park

Where to stay: Firebrand Hotel

Hot tip:  Plan to spend a day or two in the nearby town of Whitefish. This gateway to Glacier National Park is one of the best small towns in America and a destination in its own right. 

Fun fact: During your visit, you're very likely to run into mountain goats, which are the official symbols of the park.

9. Tokyo, Japan

Akihabara Tokyo

The Japanese capital is one of the most exciting cities on the entire planet. It is notoriously fast-paced, with neon lights illuminating the multitudes that are constantly rushing to their next destination. 

But Tokyo is also a city of temples, of taking time to picnic under the cherry blossoms and of making sure you enjoy the abundance of delicious food that can be found on basically every corner.

What to Know Before You Go to Tokyo

Sensoji temple , Tokyo

Where to stay: The Prince Gallery Tokyo Kioicho, a Luxury Collection Hotel

Hot tip: Visit between the months of March and April or September and November for more comfortable temperatures. Of course, spring is when the city's cherry blossoms are famously in full bloom.

Fun fact: Tokyo happens to be the largest metropolitan area in the world, with more than 40 million people calling the greater metro area home.

8. Phuket, Thailand

Phuket boats

If you’re looking for a vacation destination that feels luxurious but won’t break the bank, start searching for flights to Phuket now. 

This island in southern Thailand, which is just an hour flight from Bangkok, is surrounded by the Andaman Sea, so white sandy beaches abound. If a stunning sunset is what you’re after, head to Promthep Cape, the southernmost point on the island and a popular spot for photo-ops. For views of the island and beyond, climb to the top of the massive alabaster statue called Big Buddha.

You can even learn something during your vacation by visiting the Soi Dog Foundation, an innovative animal shelter that’s fighting the meat trade and taking care of the thousands of stray cats and dogs in the area.

What to Know Before You Go to Phuket

Phuket temple

Where to stay: InterContinental Phuket Resort

Hot tip: Visit between November and April for the best weather — and ideal conditions for beach activities like swimming and boating. 

Fun fact: The island is not pronounced in the rather colorful way it appears to be. The correct way to say it is “poo-ket” or “poo-get.”

7. Rome, Italy

Rome, Colosseum

Though Rome’s historic significance cannot be overstated, don’t assume that this Italian city is stuck in the past. On the contrary, you’ll find posh storefronts and luxurious hotels not far from iconic structures like the Pantheon (built in 120 AD) and the Colosseum (built in 80 AD).

And then, of course, there’s the city’s art. Stroll through Rome, and you’ll stumble upon some of the greatest treasures the world has ever seen — an astonishing collection of frescoes, paintings, ceilings and fountains created by icons like Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Raphael and Bernini.

After all that exploration, take advantage of ample opportunities to eat and drink, including at several Michelin-starred restaurants. City staples include suppli (deep-fried balls of risotto, mozzarella and ragu meat sauce) and cacio e pepe (a deceptively simple mix of al-dente pasta, pecorino romano and fresh black pepper). 

What to Know Before You Go to Rome

Rome Spanish Plaza at dawn

Where to stay: Radisson Blu Ghr Hotel

Hot tip: Tourists congregate here in the summer when temperatures are also sweltering. Go instead between October and April, when there are thinner crowds, better rates and cooler temps. Just make sure to bring a light jacket.

Fun fact: Each year, travelers throw about $1.7 million worth of coins into the Trevi Fountain. The money is donated to Caritas, a Catholic nonprofit that supports charities focused on health, disaster relief, poverty and migration.

6. London, England

Modern bridge London

English writer Samual Johnson once said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.” 

From live performances of Shakespeare to truly world-class (and free!) museums like the National Gallery, London will enrich your mind and enliven your senses. Of course, no visit would be complete without a stop at Buckingham Palace to see the famous stone-faced guards outside and the 19 lavish State Rooms inside (though, unfortunately, you can’t see the queen’s private quarters). Another must-see landmark is the Tower of London, the historic castle on the north side of the River Thames.

What to Know Before You Go to London

London in the spring

Where to stay: Vintry & Mercer

Hot tip: Many U.S. cities now offer direct flights to London, so set a price alert and act fast when you see fares drop.

Fun fact: London’s pubs are worth a visit for their names alone; fanciful monikers include The Case is Altered, The Pyrotechnists Arms, John the Unicorn and The Job Centre. 

5. Tahiti, French Polynesia

Tahiti, French Polynesia

Flavorful French cuisine, top-notch resorts, warm waters — need we say more? Though Tahiti can be pricey, travelers say it’s so worth it. 

The largest of the 118 French Polynesian islands, Tahiti is split into two main regions (connected by a land bridge). Tahiti Nui, the larger region, is home to the island’s capital Papeete and surfing hotspot Papenoo Beach, while Tahiti Iti, the smaller region, offers more seclusion and the bright white sands of La Plage de Maui.

What to Know Before You Go to Tahiti

Tahiti bungalows during sunset

Where to stay: Hilton Hotel Tahiti

Hot tip: Visit between May and October, Tahiti’s winter, when there are less humidity and rain. 

Fun fact: Overcrowding is not a concern here; Hawaii gets more visitors in 10 days than all of French Polynesia does in a year.

4. Maui, Hawaii

Rocky beach in Maui

If you’re short on time or you just can’t decide which Hawaiian island to visit, Maui is right in the sweet spot: not too big, not too small, but just right.

There are five regions to explore on Maui, including the popular West Maui and South Maui, home to some of the island’s best-known attractions and beaches (Wailea Beach is in South Maui, for example). But don’t overlook East Maui, where you can travel along the Road to Hana, or the Upcountry, where you can explore the world’s largest dormant volcano, Haleakala. 

What to Know Before You Go to Maui

Maui cave

Where to stay:  Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea

Hot tip: This is Hawaii we’re talking about, so your trip will be on the pricey side. Be sure to budget for add-ons if you need them (think gym access and WiFi at your hotel), and do some research on insurance before you head to the car-rental counter.

Fun fact: How’s this for a selling point? Maui has more beach than any other Hawaiian island — 60 miles of it, with red, white and black sand.

3. Bora Bora, French Polynesia

Bora Bora overwater bungalows

Don’t write off the French Polynesian island of Bora Bora just because of its size. Though it’s a little more than 2 miles wide and just 6 miles long, Bora Bora packs in an abundance of natural beauty. To start, you won’t be able to take your eyes off the island’s turquoise lagoon surrounded by lush jungle.

If you’re looking for more than relaxation on your trip, consider hiking or booking a 4X4 tour of Mount Otemanu, part of an extinct volcano that rises 2,400 feet above the lagoon. You can also snorkel among the coral reef of Coral Gardens, where you might catch a glimpse of reef sharks, eels and stingrays.

Because of its remoteness, flying into Bora Bora Airport will be quite a journey, no matter where you're departing from. But you'll forget everything as soon as you see this Polynesian paradise that is beautiful beyond words.

What to Know Before You Go to Bora Bora

Bora Bora Island

Where to stay: Conrad Bora Bora Nui

Hot tip: Though Bora Bora can be wildly expensive to visit, you can cut costs by visiting between December and March (though you should avoid the Christmas holiday) and by bringing your own alcohol and sunscreen with you.

Fun fact: Bora Bora is one of the countries that no longer exists . The Kingdom of Bora Bora was an independent state until it was forcefully overtaken and annexed by France in 1888.

2. Paris, France

Paris from the Arc de Triumph

Paris has it all — incredible cuisine, legendary landmarks and centuries of history. Those are just some of the reasons it’s the second-best place to visit in the world.

Though you’ll want to spend your time hitting up popular tourist spots like the Eiffel Tower and the Musee d’Orsay, you should also carve out time to explore other parts of Paris — the city’s 20 diverse neighborhoods, called arrondissements, for instance. Standouts include the 2nd arrondissement, which touts covered passages and some of the city’s hippest restaurants, and the romantic 18th arrondissement, with charming squares, cafes and bars, set apart from the city’s more tourist-packed areas.

What to Know Before You Go to Paris

Paris Montmartre at dawn

Where to stay: Grand Hotel Du Palais Royal

Hot tip: Yes, summer in Paris is busy, but the weather is also ideal — average highs are in the 70s.

Fun fact: Built for the 1889 World Fair, the Eiffel Tower was originally meant to be temporary , and was almost torn down in 1909. Luckily, local officials saw its value as a radiotelegraph station, preserving the future tourist icon for generations to come. 

1. South Island, New Zealand

Milford Sound

South Island, the larger but less populated of the two islands that make up New Zealand, earn this top-spot honor for its gorgeous scenery, adrenelin-pumping experiences and affordability.

The 33.5-mile hike on Milford Sound, which is limited to 90 people at a time, is considered one of the world’s best treks, with stops at Lake Te Anau, suspension bridges, a mountain pass and the tallest waterfall in the country, Sutherland Falls.

For a heart-pumping experience, you can jump out of a helicopter while flying over the Harris Mountains with skis on your feet. Still not satisfied? Roam Fiordland National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage area, and explore the Fox and Franz Josef Glaciers, two of the most accessible glaciers in the world.

What to Know Before You Go to New Zealand

South Island, New Zealand

Where to stay: QT Queenstown

Hot tip: Book your trip for the fall, when South Island is temperate, not overcrowded and offers great rates. Bonus: This is also when the island is at its most stunning.

Fun fact: New Zealand natives, called Kiwis, are among the most hospitable you’ll ever meet. The local saying “He aha te mea nui o te ao. He tangata, he tangata, he tangata” translates , appropriately, to “What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people.”

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The Best Destinations in the World: The Gold List 2022

By CNT Editors

Goa India

There are three great lists annually in  Condé Nast Traveler,  all of which have changed due to the events of the last two years: the Readers’ Choice Awards , which you, our beloved audience, select; the Hot List , which compiles the new and notable of the previous year; and this one, which is ultimately about the places and experiences our editors carry in their hearts. This year, when we say  our editors,  we mean  CNT ’s entire global crew, working in locations from California to Beijing ; we’ve also expanded the parameters of the list to include not just the hotels and cruises you’ve seen in years past, but also the destinations we treasure. The Gold List is, more than ever, made by humans for other humans—something we need more than ever in this day and age. Here, our favorite destinations in the world.

Read the complete set of Gold List winners   here .

All listings featured in this story are independently selected by our editors. However, when you book something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Cholula Puebla Mexico

Puebla, Mexico

I love when I can feel familiar with a new place in 48 hours. In Puebla , Mexico’s historic, fourth-largest city, all the spots you want to hit are walking distance within its center, itself a tidy sprawl of bright pink and yellow villas and small plazas. That includes food markets for a crispy cemita (a schnitzel-­style sandwich with all the fixings); the gilded Capilla del Rosario and the city’s famed talavera, or ceramic houses; I stayed for close to an hour watching the row of artisans hand-paint and hand-fire their mugs, plates, and vases at Uriarte Talavera. Before the pandemic, tourism was just starting to happen here, and the city was in that sweet spot of supporting a new breed of traveler, like with the artisanal-inspired Cartesiano hotel, but without muting any of its essence for international business. I liked that I had to use my shoddy Spanish with barkeeps and store owners. And that sitting in those plazas meant a front-row seat to daily Poblano life: vendors selling sliced cucumber spices with cayenne, old-timers playing dominos. Puebla felt like a special somewhere on the verge of discovery in a country with pockets already turned over to the masses. My guess with all that’s happened this past year is that it still does. —Erin Florio

Rio de Janeiro Brazil

Rio de Janeiro

If you were to hook the city of Rio de Janeiro up to a cardiogram, the needle would swing off the page. The city thrums with live samba and bossa nova at all hours of the day; the bustling streets, bookended by the dramatic rise of granite monoliths on one end and the pounding waves of the Atlantic on the other, have a pulse all their own. It's easy to feel this when you're amid throngs of colorfully clad cariocas —I feel it most swaying to the live music at Pedra do Sal on Monday nights, or when, perched in the leafy hilltop neighborhood of Santa Teresa, I hear people in neighborhoods below lean out their windows to cheer when Flamengo scores a goal. It's a complicated city, with plenty of issues—insecurity, corruption, inequity, to name just a few—but there's a premium on joy and celebration that isn't reserved for Carnaval . There are few places in the world where you know you couldn't possibly be anywhere else, and whenever I hear the whole of Arpoador beach break into applause as the sun sets in summer, I'm reminded that Rio is one of them. —Megan Spurrell

Alentejo Vicente Coast

Alentejo, Portugal

I call the road to the sea through Portugal’s Alentejo region the place where the beatniks read Pessoa; you can imagine Kerouac breezing through its small hotels, surf camps, and villages scattered with craft shops, markets, and bohemian bars. For me it’s a place of happiness. There are boutique hotels like São Lourenço do Barrocal and Dá Licença and olive groves, cork oaks, and infinite horizons. The road ends at Vicentine Coast National Park, a wild, protected coastline in southern Europe. A paradise for surfers , it has electrifying sunsets, but the icy waters stop it from ever getting too crowded. —David Moralejo

Svalbard Norway

Svalbard, Norway

Arctic Svalbard —whose capital, Longyearbyen, is the world’s northernmost town—is like nowhere else I’ve been. On the one hand, it’s a deep-nature Scandi fantasy of snowmobiles, Northern Lights, ski-touring along glacial valleys, and surprisingly smart boutiques with stacked wine cellars. But there’s also a compelling strangeness to this international settlement, where no one is born and no one dies. There are the Soviet mining towns with their Lenin busts, whether abandoned or (even weirder) still working; the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, which preempts a coming apocalypse; it’s advisable to leave Longyearbyen with a shotgun, in case of polar-bear attack. As much as a destination, it’s a journey into the heart of the climate crisis, with academics from across the world doing game-changing research here. I’m itching to go again—to escape but also to think and connect, which is what happens in all the best places. —Toby Skinner

Goa India

My first trip to Goa as a college student was wrapped in dreams of homemade chorizo and reliving moments from the cult Bollywood coming-of-age film Dil Chahta Hai . Many trips and feni cocktails later, Goa remained a respite for my city-weary bones. The state straddles its multicultural past and present, trading up ’60s hippie markets for hipster boutiques while keeping its old-world Indian and Portuguese traditions intact. Simple fish-curry plates, aunties doing an impromptu jig to fado, old-timers squabbling over their favorite Goan soccer club, and the right freshness of bread coexist with edgy global menus, alt-music gigs, and all that is artisanal and arty. The ocean changes color from one season to the next, the multi-color sunsets never repeat, and like many travelers, I continue to return and find my salve in sunshine, sea, and susegad —the quintessential Goan idea of the slow, easy, and good life. —Diya Kohl

Plettenberg Bay South Africa

Plettenberg Bay, South Africa

Plettenberg Bay is South Africa's summer playground, and I, a Capetonian, would drive the 186-mile coastal path along the scenic Garden Route each year to join the fun. The bohemian seaside town sits atop a sheltered bay, where a jumble of hipster coffee shops, seafood restaurants, and kitsch boutiques tumble down onto fynbos-covered cliffs—where a slew of new hotels like The Robberg Beach Lodge sit beside grandes dames like The Plettenberg Hotel . Pretty young things like to celebrate the end of matric student exams, where hedonism sweeps across the bay, while dolphin and whale watches come during the languid, warm winter months. Venture just outside Plett to find the luxury Tsala Treetop Lodge , a manicured Gary Player golf course, indigenous Keurbooms River Nature Reserve, the Plett Polo Club on the Kurland Estate, and a host of animal sanctuaries to meet cheetahs, elephants, and monkeys. But above all, come for the glorious golden beaches. Central Beach—dotted with bars—surfy Lookout Beach, and the eerie, mist-covered sands of Robberg Nature Reserve. Search hard enough and you might stumble on a sand dollar—the symbol of Plettenberg Bay, thought to bring eternal luck. —Isabella Sullivan

Scottsdale Arizona

When I can’t take another minute of winter, I head to Scottsdale. As, historically, do the day-drinking spring breakers and the far less rowdy snowbirds. Recently, though, the Valley of the Sun has come into its own, claiming its stunning desert setting and Southwest culture in new ways. If I’m bringing the kids, the 1929 Frank Lloyd Wright–designed grande dame The Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort (on the border of Scottsdale and Phoenix), is my place. It has sprawling grounds and seven pools, one with a legitimate waterslide, and just underwent a much-needed facelift. Sanctuary Camelback Mountain Resort , terraced into the side of its namesake adobe-hued mountain, has my favorite spa in town. Its adults-only pool on weekends and easy access to sunrise hiking give me plenty of excuses to leave the kids at home. Solo or with family, I can always bank on sunshine, a great exhibit at Phoenix’s nearby Desert Botanical Garden, and excellent Sonoran-style Mexican food. —Rebecca Misner

Tuscany Val Graziosa

Val Graziosa, Italy

I am a frequent traveler to Val Graziosa, a valley near the Pisan mountains and a part of Tuscany relatively unknown and terribly beautiful. Here there is Monte Pisano—“ che i Pisan veder Lucca non ponno, ” the poet Dante said, a small group of mountains that hides Lucca from Pisa and makes it impossible for the Pisan locals to see the city of Lucca. There are olive trees everywhere, producing the best olive oil on Earth in a splendid countryside. I love to walk around the surroundings of Montemagno—please read the book Maledetti Toscani, by Curzio Malaparte, and you will understand a lot about Italians from this region. I love to go to the grocery store in Patrizia for a glass of wine (the one and only épicerie of the village) and then to Certosa di Calci, a 14th-century monastery, and one of the many secret beauties in my crazy country of Italy. —Maddalena Fosati

Chiang Mai Thailand

Chiang Mai, Thailand

When I first went to Chiang Mai, I intended to stay a couple of nights and ended up staying more than a week; for me, that trip is a reminder of travel at its most impulsive and impetuous: the freedom to move on when you feel like it. There’s no beach pressure here, and inland Thailand always feels more interesting than the obvious hits of the beachfront. And, away from the beaches, there's the sense of a modern Thai city where young creatives are carving out a contemporary aesthetic, with the energy that a large student population gives a city. —Rick Jordan

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The 60 most beautiful places in the world

By Katharine Sohn

The 60 most beautiful places in the world 2024

Where are the most beautiful places in the world? On a planet home to flamingo-pink lakes in Mexico, plus vast, multi-coloured hills in the USA, green ripples of rice paddies in Indonesia and epic icescapes in Antarctica, it's hard to choose a favourite – but why pick one? From countries all around the world, these are our top 60 most beautiful places to visit.

Scattered along Scotland's west coast this chain of isles is one of the country's most beautiful places to visit. Think...

Outer Hebrides, Scotland

Scattered along Scotland 's west coast, this chain of isles is one of the country's most beautiful places to visit. Think shimmering white-sand beaches , sparkling seas and crowd-free hinterlands – it's one of the UK's last remaining secrets, and for good reason.

With endless rows of vines tumbling down hillsides and birds of prey swooping along the riverside at first glance you'd...

Douro Valley, Portugal

With endless rows of vines tumbling down hillsides and birds of prey swooping along the riverside, at first glance you'd think this place was anywhere but Europe. Right in the depths of Portugal , this valley is as romantic as it comes – hike along ridges, taste-test your way through the region's wine and cosy up in some of the country's very best hotels, before waking up and doing it all again.

The most westerly point on mainland Australia is this UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was founded before Captain Cook...

Shark Bay, Australia

The most westerly point on mainland Australia is this UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was founded before Captain Cook discovered land at Botany Bay, with Dutch explorers touching down here in the 17th century. The area is diverse – there’s a beach made up entirely of tiny white shells, stromatolites on the shore of Hamelin Pool and the salt mine at Useless Loop, which produces the purest grade of salt in the world and is only accessible via four-by-four – or visible from the sky.

A small seaside town in the Ica region of Peru Paracas is where the desert meets the sea. A trip to the area isnt...

Paracas, Peru

A small seaside town in the Ica region of Peru , Paracas is where the desert meets the sea. A trip to the area isn’t complete without a boat ride to Islas Ballestas, the rocky islands off the Pacific coast known for their diverse wildlife including flocks of sea lions and crowds of baby penguins.

The redcliff coastline and pristine whitewashed Moorish villages that dot the southwestern region of Portugal have...

Algarve, Portugal

The red-cliff coastline and pristine whitewashed Moorish villages that dot the south-western region of Portugal have started shifting crowds away from the region’s busier hotspots. It has its own sunny microclimate and affordable places to stay such as Casa Mãe in Lagos make it a great winter-sun option too.

With its striking architecture grand boulevards worldclass art jewelbox patisseries and classic places to stay this is a...

Paris, France

With its striking architecture, grand boulevards, world-class art, jewel-box patisseries and classic places to stay , this is a city that never sleeps. Its unrivalled food scene is best experienced by stumbling upon corner bistros down cobbled streets.

Vietnamese for peace Hòa Bình province is located in the north of the country and is home to hill tribes including the...

Hòa Bình, Vietnam

Vietnamese for peace, Hòa Bình province is located in the north of the country and is home to hill tribes including the Hmong, Muong and Dzao, plus endless rice fields.

Offradar Milos has some of the best beaches in the Aegean without the buzz of Mykonos or Santorini. Moonlike Sarakiniko...

Sarakiniko Beach, Milos, Greece

Off-radar Milos has some of the best beaches in the Aegean without the buzz of Mykonos or Santorini . Moon-like Sarakiniko is made up of mounds of undulating bone-white, wave-like volcanic rock and forms one of the island’s most mesmerising bays.

The most extreme continent on earth is also the coldest windiest driest and most inhospitable to forms of life. Pristine...

The most extreme continent on earth is also the coldest, windiest, driest and most inhospitable to forms of life. Pristine and practically untouched, no one lives in Antarctica full time, apart from seals, penguins and marine life. It’s as remote as one can get.

Known as the hottest place on earth Death Valley reached a record temperature of 53°C in 2019. Its a vast area of...

Death Valley, California

Known as the hottest place on earth, Death Valley reached a record temperature of 53°C in 2019. It’s a vast area of extremes: with snowy peaks, scorching sands and wildflower meadows, the National Park encompasses a wide range of different landscapes. One of the most popular locations is the multi-hued Artists Palette, a series of eroded hills whose colouring is due to the oxidation of natural metal deposits in the mountains. ‘ Star Wars ’ fans will be keen to see the site that inspired the planet Tatooine.

In summer endless fields of lavender in bloom turn the Provençal landscape purple. At the end of the season when the...

Provence, France

In summer, endless fields of lavender in bloom turn the Provençal landscape purple. At the end of the season, when the crop is harvested, honey, soaps and pastries are made with a fragrant dose of the plant.

Monks at Bayon temple

Bayon, Cambodia

Built in honour of one of Cambodia’s most famous kings, Jayavarman VII, Bayon is a 12th-century state temple that’s a unique architectural feat in the heart of Angkor Thom. Fifty-four gothic towers carved with 216 gargantuan smiling faces of Avalokiteshvara – the bodhisattva of compassion – fill the temple , and the design showcases the shift from Hinduism to Mahayana Buddhism. With Angkor Wat not far away, Bayon, its off-the-beaten track little sister, is a close second in popularity.

The famous three peaks of the National Park are among Wyomings most recognisable sights the Grand forming the highest...

Grand Teton National Park, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

The famous three peaks of the National Park are among Wyoming’s most recognisable sights, the Grand forming the highest point of the range. It’s a hike on many pro adventurers' list, but for newbies looking for an outdoors excursion floating down the Snake River or mountain-biking through the 310,000-acre landscape are viable options, too. Top it off with supper at Snake River Grill in Jackson’s town centre and an overnight stay at the cliff-side Amangani .

The worlds highest waterfall with 3212ft cascades is located in the UNESCOprotected Canaima National Park and was the...

Angel Falls, Venezuela

The world’s highest waterfall, with 3,212ft cascades, is located in the UNESCO-protected Canaima National Park and was the inspiration for the Disney film ‘Up’. The site is only accessible by boat or plane.

A gateway to the East Kyrgyzstan has natural beauty. Unspoilt pine forests rocky ridges and rolling jailoos  are typical...

A gateway to the East, Kyrgyzstan has natural beauty. Unspoilt pine forests, rocky ridges and rolling jailoos (summer pastures) are typical of the country. In the warmer months visitors flock to glacial lakes, while in winter a stay with semi-nomadic shepherds is an experience unlike any other.

The 12500ftlong canal runs straight through the centre and has inspired numerous artists including Canaletto Monet and...

Grand Canal, Venice

The 12,500ft-long canal runs straight through the centre and has inspired numerous artists including Canaletto, Monet and JMW Turner. Flanked by buildings dating from the 12th to the 17th centuries, it’s the grandest waterway in the Floating City .

Hwange has a greater diversity of mammals than any national park in the world and is the largest natural reserve in...

Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe

Hwange has a greater diversity of mammals than any national park in the world and is the largest natural reserve in Zimbabwe . The size of Belgium , it is home to more than 50,000 elephants and 500 species of bird. The wet-season winter months are the best time to see migratory birds or book an off-season safari when the park gets fewer visitors.

A third of Mongolia is covered in desert and while its the 18thlargest country in the world its three million...

A third of Mongolia is covered in desert, and while it’s the 18th-largest country in the world, its three million inhabitants make it the most sparsely populated. Visitors can go local: riding horses, helping to look after livestock and sleeping in a herder's ger – a traditional felt yurt.

This salt lake constitutes the lowest point on the continent. Normally dry due to evaporated water with its saltdeposit...

Lake Eyre, Australia

This salt lake constitutes the lowest point on the continent. Normally dry due to evaporated water, with its salt-deposit haze, the body only fills completely twice every 100 years on average.

Minutes from scooterbuzzing Ubud are artsy lowkey villages vivid green rice paddies lush forests and vast jungles. Bali...

Bali, Indonesia

Minutes from scooter-buzzing Ubud are artsy, low-key villages, vivid green rice paddies, lush forests and vast jungles. Bali is one of Indonesia’s 17,000 islands and sees an average temperature of about 30°C year round. Explore by bicycle and then head to one of its many cool beach clubs.

East Sussex England

Seven Sisters Country Park, East Sussex, UK

Britain’s unspoilt south coast is home to one of the country's greatest walking trails and seaside parks, the Seven Sisters. Made up of 280 hectares of chalk cliffs, a winding river valley and flat top grasslands with views of the English Channel, the coastal path begins near Eastbourne, the start of the 100-mile South Downs Way.

On a route made famous by revolutionary Che Guevara who kicked off his motorcycle journey in Buenos Aires head down to...

Atacame Desert, South America

On a route made famous by revolutionary Che Guevara who kicked off his motorcycle journey in Buenos Aires , head down to Chile through the Atacama Desert into the Peruvian Amazon and up to Venezuela. Vast expanses of sandy flats quickly roll into high tops of dunes and gorges leading to plateaus of dusty grass. It’s a trip for explorers, with the Andes standing tall above the Argentine –Chile border, blurring one side into the other. NASA even uses the desert as a testing ground for future Mars missions.

Fujisan the tallest peak in Japan is a sacred mountain and symbol. On a clear day it can be seen from Tokyo but one of...

Mount Fuji, Japan

Fuji-san, the tallest peak in Japan , is a sacred mountain and symbol. On a clear day, it can be seen from Tokyo , but one of the best ways to view the still-active volcano is by taking the shinkansen bullet train from the capital to Osaka (top tip: sit on the right-hand side for the best views). Surrounding areas Hakone (where there are natural hot springs) and Fujigoko are worth visiting during cherry-blossom season.

The largest city in Rajasthan is filled to the brim with buzzing bazaars sacred lakes and gilded royal palaces  the...

Jaipur and the Hawa Mahal Palace, Jaipur, Rajasthan

The largest city in Rajasthan is filled to the brim with buzzing bazaars, sacred lakes and gilded royal palaces – the decadent 18th-century royal-owned Rajmahal Palace is a smart hotel. Among the famously rosy-hued buildings of the Pink City, the honeycomb-like Hawa Mahal, or Palace of the Winds, is surely the most recognisable of all. The incredible sandstone structure has 953 small exterior windows (called jharokhas ) decorated with intricate lattice work.

The Namib Desert is the oldest in the world and in the middle of its vast Skeleton Coast are endless miles of stone and...

Skeleton Coast, Namibia

The Namib Desert is the oldest in the world, and in the middle of its vast Skeleton Coast are endless miles of stone and sand, dry riverbeds and dunes. Desert-adapted animals here include elephant, giraffe, lion, brown hyaena and Cape fur seals that thrive in the area.

Its a few hours from buzzing Edinburgh not far from the Cairngorms to the start of the eastern Highlands. Stretching...

The Scottish Highlands

It’s a few hours from buzzing Edinburgh , not far from the Cairngorms, to the start of the eastern Highlands. Stretching around Skye, around the North Coast 500 route up to the village of John O' Groats, the region is also home to the tallest mountain in the British Isles, Ben Nevis. There’s natural beauty everywhere, from babbling Fairy Pools and big-horned cattle to clear coastal waters and snowy mountain caps.

Meaning cotton castle in Turkish this natural wonder is made up of layers of white travertine terraces of iceblue spa...

Pamukkale, Turkey

Meaning cotton castle in Turkish , this natural wonder is made up of layers of white travertine terraces of ice-blue spa pools. It’s also next to the site of the well-preserved ruins of Hierapolis, the Greek-Roman city established in the 2nd century BC.

Stretching over eight countries  France Switzerland Monaco Italy Liechtenstein Austria Germany and Slovenia  the Alps...

Stretching over eight countries – France , Switzerland , Monaco, Italy , Liechtenstein, Austria, Germany and Slovenia – the Alps are the most extensive mountain range in Europe . It has some of the greatest skiing in the world with popular towns including Chamonix -Mont-Blanc (the highest mountain), Lech , Gstaad and Courchevel .

This archipelago of five islands  Bazaruto the largest Benguerra Magaruque Santa Carolina and the smallest Bangue  was...

Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique

This archipelago of five islands – Bazaruto, the largest, Benguerra, Magaruque, Santa Carolina and the smallest Bangue – was once part of a peninsula connected to the mainland but now, when the Indian Ocean retreats at low tide, swirls and ripples of white sand become visible. A protected marine park, its waters are rich in manta rays, schools of dolphins, hawksbill turtles and dugongs (cousins of equally curious manatees).

Six turquoise waterholes lie within the salty plains of Ojos del Mar in the Tolar Grande region of Bolivia. Inhabited by...

Ojos del Mar, Bolivia

Six turquoise waterholes lie within the salty plains of Ojos del Mar in the Tolar Grande region of Bolivia . Inhabited by stromatolites (deposits formed by algae) and microorganisms, the water can change slightly in colour, depending on the angle of the sun, from bright blue to seafoam green.

Home to the tallest mountain in New Zealand the AorakiMount Cook National Park part of the Te Wāhipounamu World Heritage...

Mount Cook, New Zealand

Home to the tallest mountain in New Zealand , the Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park, part of the Te Wāhipounamu World Heritage Site on the South Island, is a mountaineer’s dream. More than 40 per cent of the area is covered in glaciers, with the largest and longest named the Tasman Glacier. It was here that Sir Edmund Hillary trained for the first momentous ascent of Mount Everest.

One of the Luberon's most striking hilltop hamlets Gordes stands tall on the edge of the Vaucluse plateau. With views...

Gordes, Provence

One of the Luberon's most striking hilltop hamlets, Gordes stands tall on the edge of the Vaucluse plateau. With views across the surrounding region of Provence , the quintessential medieval town is a must-visit. A stay at Bastide de Gordes , the village’s most glamorous hotel, will make the trip complete.

Easily one of the Canadian Rockies most recognisable landmarks Emerald Lake is located within Yoho National Park in...

Emerald Lake, British Columbia, Canada

Easily one of the Canadian Rockies’ most recognisable landmarks, Emerald Lake is located within Yoho National Park in British Columbia. Backed by the towering mountain peaks of the President Range, in summer the clear glacial water is ideal for canoeing and attempting a quick swim.

The selfgoverned group of 18 volcanic islands makes up this remote archipelago where sheep outnumber humans. Grasslined...

The Faroe Islands

The self-governed group of 18 volcanic islands makes up this remote archipelago where sheep outnumber humans. Grass-lined houses, craggy coastlines and lush waterfalls are all part of the Nordic landscape but there’s a surprising food scene too.

Modern highrise buildings meet period architecture in retro Hong Kong one of the most densely populated cities in the...

Modern high-rise buildings meet period architecture in retro Hong Kong , one of the most densely populated cities in the world. It’s a street-food capital where eating dim sum like a local in an old teahouse is a mandatory experience. For the best views of the harbour, catch a Star Ferry or hike the hills of Ma On Shan, one of the summits that surround the city.

The magical walled Blue City is a tangle of winding medieval streets. The monumental 15thcentury Mehrangarh Fort which...

Jodhpur, India

The magical, walled Blue City is a tangle of winding medieval streets. The monumental 15th-century Mehrangarh Fort, which is still run by the royal family and now serves as a museum, looks out over the old city and its mesh of box-shaped buildings, shops and bazaars.

The Navajo name of this slot canyon translates to ‘the place where water runs through rocks and the narrow ravine is an...

Antelope Canyon, Arizona

The Navajo name of this slot canyon translates to ‘the place where water runs through rocks’ and the narrow ravine is an American Southwest treasure, filled with ripples of eroded stone formations, and sunlight creating orange filters and bright patterns. The popularity of this spot among keen photographers speaks for itself – this is one of the most beautiful places in the world.

This Arctic archipelago about a threehour flight north of Oslo has one of the harshest environments on the planet....

Svalbard, Norway

This Arctic archipelago , about a three-hour flight north of Oslo , has one of the harshest environments on the planet. Nearly two-thirds of it is protected and the islands are made up of bird sanctuaries, nature reserves and national parks where polar bears roam. The Northern Lights can be seen in the winter and in the summer, when the temperature tops out at 6°C, the sun doesn’t go below the horizon.

The forwardthinking capital of Scandi cool appeals to foodies design junkies and a cool young crowd. With its...

Copenhagen, Denmark

The forward-thinking capital of Scandi cool appeals to foodies, design junkies and a cool young crowd. With its ground-breaking food scene , including world-famous Noma (and Noma 2.0 ), it’s a city to be taken seriously. Colourful buildings dot the central Nyhavn port, but it’s worth exploring alternative community Christiania, quirky Vesterbro and hipster Nørrebro, too.

The old town of Lamu on the Indian Ocean island of the same name was established in the 14th century. Now a UNESCO World...

Lamu, Kenya

The old town of Lamu , on the Indian Ocean island of the same name, was established in the 14th century. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the port city is a mish-mash of cultures – Swahili, Asian, Arabic, European – while along the laid-back coast majestic dhows sail by all day long.

More than 3000 narrow quartzsandstone pillars make up Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area in the Hunan...

Wulingyuan, China

More than 3,000 narrow, quartz-sandstone pillars make up Wulingyuan Scenic and Historic Interest Area in the Hunan Province. These natural wonders, many higher than 656ft, are broken up by ravines, gorges, caves and waterfalls. It’s easy to see why the UNESCO World Heritage Site was James Cameron’s inspiration for Avatar .

Home to the worlds tallest trees Redwood National Park north of San Francisco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and part...

Redwood National Park, California

Home to the world’s tallest trees, Redwood National Park, north of San Francisco , is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and part of an International Biosphere Reserve that protects close to half of the planet’s old-growth redwoods – some of which are 370ft high. With more than 200 miles of trail routes, it’s ideal for camping, hiking and riding.

The crumbling façades of this island nation's capital keep bringing in waves of travelling artists rum fanatics and...

Havana, Cuba

The crumbling façades of this island nation's capital keep bringing in waves of travelling artists, rum fanatics and cigar smokers to the city. It’s where Hemingway wrote seven of his books and drank Mojitos at La Bodeguita del Medio. And with temperatures of 27°C in December, it’s an ideal winter-sun destination.

Considered to be the cultural centre of Japan Kyoto is awash with ancient temples and shrines serene teahouses and...

Kyoto, Japan

Considered to be the cultural centre of Japan, Kyoto is awash with ancient temples and shrines, serene teahouses and sublime gardens. The bright-orange Fushimi-inari, a shinto shrine in the hills, is a visual beauty. Grab an artisan coffee, taken very seriously in the traditional city, and make the two-hour pilgrimage through the shrine's thousands of torii (gates). Other spots worth visiting include Gion, the home of the geishas, the golden pavilion of Kinkaku-ji and Nishiki market for street food or a traditional kaiseki feast at one of the city's local restaurants.

The kaleidoscopic city may best be known for its market life spice sellers and ancient medinas but its reimagined riads...

Marrakech, Morocco

The kaleidoscopic city may best be known for its market life, spice sellers and ancient medinas, but its reimagined riads, cool independent shops and contemporary art scene are giving it a modern edge. There are lots of places to discover – from Yves Saint Laurent’s restoration of cobalt-blue Jardin Majorelle to the smoky street-food stalls in Jemaa el-Fna.

A quick ferry ride from Naples the island of Ischia  famed for its thermal spas and unshowy local life  is a tumble of...

Ischia, Italy

A quick ferry ride from Naples , the island of Ischia – famed for its thermal spas and unshowy local life – is a tumble of fishing villages and beaches that match Amalfi but without the crowds.

Bondi Icebergs might easily be the most famous pool in the world. The Olympicsize structure has been standing on the...

Bondi Iceburgs, Australia

Bondi Icebergs might easily be the most famous pool in the world. The Olympic-size structure has been standing on the southern end of Bondi Beach for more than 100 years. It’s not heated or chlorinated, but filled with seawater, with the Tasman Sea crashing against its edge.

The Philippines has more than 7000 islands  about 5000 of which are uninhabited  where roughly 175 languages are spoken....

The Philippines

The Philippines has more than 7,000 islands – about 5,000 of which are uninhabited – where roughly 175 languages are spoken. For diving, El Nido is the ideal spot with crystal-clear water and vibrant marine life.

About 20 minutes outside Kyotos city centre is the atmospheric Arashiyama bamboo forest. Arrive at around 7am to avoid...

Arashiyama, Bamboo Forest, Japan

About 20 minutes outside Kyoto’s city centre is the atmospheric Arashiyama bamboo forest. Arrive at around 7am to avoid the crowds and get a chance to see and feel the wood, as well as hear it creaking in the wind. Morning light is just as ethereal, too. Arabica coffee shop is nearby, overlooking Hozugawa River.

The incredible pink lakes here make up part of the protected nature reserve of Ría Lagartos Biosphere on Mexicos Yucatn...

Las Coloradas, Yucatan, Mexico

The incredible pink lakes here make up part of the protected nature reserve of Ría Lagartos Biosphere on Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula. Red-coloured algae, plankton and brine shrimp that thrive in the waters not only turn the native flamingos pink but help produce 500,000 tons of salt per year.

The Avenue of the Baobabs Madagascar

Avenue of the Baobabs, Madagascar

This is one of Madagascar's most visited natural sites – and for good reason. Aside from the spectacular photo opportunities on offer as the sun casts auburn shades on the trees, travellers come to support local conservation efforts, and spot the unique wildlife that frolics in the overgrowth nearby.

Blue Lagoon Iceland

Blue lagoon, Iceland

One of  Iceland's  most spectacular sites is, surprisingly, man-made. The Blue Lagoon's waters are a byproduct of a nearby geothermal power plant, which passes through turbines and into the lagoon. Natural geological layers account for the water's rich mineral content, which travellers use to their benefit, bathing and smothering themselves in the rich clay.

Eager to spot a waddle of penguins in the wild There's no need to save up for the ultimate excursion to Antarctica ...

Cape Town, South Africa

Eager to spot a waddle of penguins in the wild? There's no need to save up for the ultimate excursion to Antarctica – although that's just as high on many bucket lists. On the shores of some of  South Africa's  most picturesque beaches, the animals mingle in search of a mate – safe from the fearsome great white that circle beneath the waves just metres away.

Colorado River in the Grand Canyon

The Grand Canyon, USA

The Grand Canyon is part of the Colorado River basin and, aside from its beauty, is geologically significant as the waters that pass through here have revealed billions of years worth of rock layers. While it's popular with travelling day-trippers, native Americans still call it home, having first settled in the caves thousands of years ago.

Inside view on IkKil Cenote close to Chichen Itza Mexico

Cenotes, Mexico

Formed by the collapse of eroded limestone,  Mexico's  cenotes harbour secrets and beauty discovered by sunshine-chasers each year. The unique formations were celebrated by the ancient Maya people, and archaeological investigations over the years have found artefacts made from gold, jadeite, shell and more on the sandy depths.

A road poising through the desert of Joshua Tree as sunrise

Joshua Tree National Park, USA

Stone tools and spearheads discovered in Joshua Tree National Park suggest the region was inhabited as long as 8,000 years ago. Modern travellers experience this wilderness in a very different way, checking into luxurious micro-resorts and serviced holiday homes. Think the landscapes are otherworldly by day? Look to the skies at night for an altogether different, and unforgettable, sight.

Maldives

The Maldives

Spoiling retreats of all shapes and sizes litter the sandy banks of the Maldives , an archipelagic state in the Indian Ocean. Between the indulgent wellness resorts and exotic restaurants, the crystal-clear waters offer ample opportunity for snorkelling and diving excursions. Dive into the blue and find yourself in a world of kaleidoscopic colour as fish fizzle in and out of focus.

Peyto Lake in Canada

Peyto Lake, Canada

One of Canada's most beautiful and most-photographed lakes is a pool of cerulean on darker days, while its glacier waters mirror the sky's dappled blue on brighter days. Keen amblers are well rewarded as they reach Bow Summit, the highest point on the Icefields Parkway.

Argent Beach on La Digue Island Seychelles

La Digue, Seychelles

The third most populated island in  the Seychelles , La Digue takes its name from a ship in the fleet of French explorer Marc-Joseph Marion du Fresne, who visited the Seychelles in 1768. Thanks to its otherworldly granite formations, glassy waters and fine sand, Anse Source d'Argent is often regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world – a spot travellers fawn over as they venture out from the island's uber-luxurious hotels and resorts.

Grand Prismatic Spring Yellowstone National Park Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park, USA

Bison, bears, geese, deer – these are just some of the animals that call the oldest national park in the world home. Each change of the seasons beckons new residents out of their homes, as many cosy up during the cold winters and await the first signs of spring. A highlight of the park is the Yellowstone Caldera, a gargantuan crater that was formed by a cataclysmic volcanic eruption some 640,000 years ago.

12 of the best islands in Europe

Jun 14, 2024 • 9 min read

top ten travel places

Korčula Town is awash with historic architecture © xbrchx / Shutterstock

One of Europe’s best features is the stunning diversity of its landscapes ⁠— and that extends to its magnificent islands.

Whether you want to take in whitewashed buildings that cling to rocky cliffs or see the northern lights brighten the sky from a snowy isle, Europe has the perfect spot. We’ve rounded up some unique and beautiful islands across the continent from Lonely Planet's  The Islands Book . Here are 12 of the best. 

1. Korčula, Croatia 

A tapestry of vineyards, olive groves and dense forests blankets Korčula , the greenest of the Dalmatian islands. It lies just 3km (1.8 miles) from the mainland and is understandably busy in summer, but outside the peak season , it’s a serenely beautiful place to visit. The island’s well-preserved medieval towns and villages are awash with historic architecture, from the Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque palaces of Korčula Town to the simple stone cottages and farmhouses of the interior. It’s a place to hike or bike to small-scale wineries and olive mills; see traditional folk dances, religious processions and musical performances; or better still, laze on a sandy beach , an attraction almost unheard of in Croatia.

People sit under pine trees on a beach

2. Skiathos, Greece 

Eyes closed, picture the Greek beach of your dreams . A glinting pebble-studded cove? A luscious stretch of powdery white sand? A rocky sea-hugging outcrop at sunset? Skiathos is all this, and much more. Birthplace of the great 19th-century Greek writer Alexandros Papadiamantis and a key location during the Greek War of Independence, this history-rich pine-scented island sits just off mainland Greece, halfway between Athens and Thessaloniki , in the glittering Sporades. The small and relaxed capital, Skiathos Town , reveals a jumble of white-walled streets and traditional island architecture, while ancient monasteries lie tucked away in the hushed mountains and the unbelievably beautiful coastline unfolds in a series of blissful strands backed by rolling olive groves. Escape to the cliff-edged northern coast, whose craggy hills sweep down to secluded silver-pebble coves where family-owned tavernas have been serving up feta-loaded salads, crisp golden chips and platters of super-fresh seafood for years.

How many Greek islands can I see in a week?

A person swims in the water in a secluded cove at the beach of Cala Napoletana, Sardinia.

3. Sardinia, Italy 

The largest island in the Mediterranean after Sicily, Sardinia is the feisty, brilliantly moody and charismatic offspring of conquest and occupation. Power-hungry masters were numerous prior to the island becoming part of unified Italy in 1861, yet the Sards never let time or the elements erase their brilliant story. The fierce passion and pride in Sardinian culture and heritage, the stubborn fraternity, the infectious zeal for la festa (party) and the slow food ethic that every islander shares is compelling. Think beyond flopping on the dreamiest white beaches on European shores. Exploring this natural habitat is a wild adventure, with vertiginous coastal paths and spectacular cliff-cradled bays, rugged mountains and sheep-specked hinterland, remote hilltop villages, Neolithic tombs and medieval cities riddled in mystery.

8 things to know before traveling to Sardinia, Italy

Aerial view of the ruins of the square Genoese tower of Porto at the end of the Gulf of Porto, Corsica, France.

4. Corsica, France 

It has been part of France for more than 200 years, but wild and fiercely proud Corsica (Corse or L’Île de Beauté, meaning the "Island of Beauty") is dramatically different from the mainland . Be it customs, culture, cuisine or language , a unique Corsican identity oozes out of every last pretty hilltop village, harmonious polyphonic song and haunting lamentu (lament) listened to over a glass of blood-red Cap Corse Mattei. Corsica’s natural landscape is kaleidoscopic. Its sandy beaches and gold-crescent coves , thick forests and verdant valleys, sawtooth mountain ridges and rocky promontories are heaven for outdoor explorers. Immense geographical diversity is also the backbone of the island’s compelling multifaceted history. Begin at ground zero with the enigmatic "Sea People."

Boats float on bright blue waters off the coast of Menorca.

5. Menorca, Spain 

Welcome to the easternmost tip of Spain – a soulful, sun-soaked, beach-wrapped jewel of an island washed by the sparkling Balearic Sea, where sustainability was the cornerstone of local tourism long before it became a buzzword. Declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve back in 1993, beautiful Menorca unveils inspiringly designed agroturismes (rural hotels), mystifying Bronze Age ruins, rippling wetlands, pine-scented coastal trails and a string of the country’s most exquisite beaches. Its two elegant cities tell stories of its embattled past: harborside capital Maó (Mahón) bursts with British-influenced architecture, while colorful Ciutadella brings a more Spanish feel. From its blissful protected beaches to its strong gastronomic heritage, this go-slow island is making waves as a responsible-travel destination.

A wooden windmill in farmland

6. Saaremaa, Estonia

If you’re looking for the soul of Estonia , skip the medieval turrets of Tallinn and the university fervor of Tartu and head instead to the vast open spaces of Saaremaa. The largest island in the country is home to oak and juniper forests, craggy sea cliffs and small villages that still follow the ancient rhythms of rural life. For Estonians, there’s an ineffable magic to Saaremaa’s old windmills, flower-strewn meadows and folkloric history that dates back many centuries. One of the country’s most impressive castles rises above the picturesque town of Kuressaare – the island’s biggest settlement – and the mazelike corridors within are packed with Estonian treasures. Saaremaa is also known for its earthy cuisine, from rye bread made from old family recipes to smoked fish sold from tiny markets, alongside some of the best farmhouse beer brewed in the Baltics.

Rorbu huts on clear blue water with mountains behind in Sakrisoy.

7. Lofoten Islands, Norway 

The fabled maelstrom and fire-engine-red fishing huts on stilts in Lofoten that French novelist Jules Verne evoked in his classic sci-fi adventure novel,  Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea , were no flights of fancy. This end-of-the-Earth archipelago, linked by ferry or a series of road tunnels and bridges to mainland Norway , is straight off a cinema screen. The raw natural beauty – not to mention the celestial Arctic light – is simply staggering. Fishing, farming and tourism chart out the seasons on this rugged string of islands where the flow of the Gulf Stream ensures a soft warmth unmatched elsewhere in the Arctic Circle. On white summer nights, the midnight sun bathes the islands’ shark-fin chiseled mountains in gold and turns the Norwegian Sea a pale violet no painter can truly capture. The coveted winter chase – in a kayak or husky sled, on snowshoes or horseback – to watch the northern lights tango purple and emerald-green across the dark sky is majestic, unmatched and utterly unforgettable.

View over the old town of the city of Visby with ancient buildings and the sea in the background.

8. Gotland, Sweden 

Known as the "Queen of the Baltic,"  Gotland is a magical island where medieval towns and churches butt up to sandy beaches and dunes, sculptural sea stacks, lush meadows and sleepy villages. It is Sweden’s largest island and sits in the Baltic Sea roughly halfway between mainland Sweden and Estonia – a strategically important location that has seen it inhabited for some 8000 years. Gotland is home to the narrow, cobbled lanes and quaint cottages of Visby , its UNESCO World Heritage-listed capital, with wonderful early Gothic architecture and the most alluring of long summer evenings. Outside the capital and away from peak season , it’s a serenely tranquil spot, sparsely populated and best explored by bike. Come for the medieval week in August to see jousters and jesters; the truffle festival in November; or just to wander from flea market to beach to remote hamlet, soaking up the views as you go.

Texel Lighthouse near a sandy beach during the early morning.

9. Texel, the Netherlands 

Sweeping white-sand beaches, wildlife-rich nature reserves, sun-dappled forests and quaint villages are just some of the highlights of Texel (pronounced "tes-sel"), the largest and most-visited of the Wadden Islands, which stretch along Holland’s northeast coast. Once a main stop for ships en route to Asia, Africa and North America (the first trade mission to the East Indies began and ended here), Texel’s typically flat Dutch landscape makes it ideal for cycling , and sheep are everywhere: the local wool is highly prized and lamb is always on the menu. During lambing season around Easter, you’ll see bouncy lambs aplenty; join the locals in taking a Lammetjes Wandeltrocht (a "walk to look at the lambs"). With enough diversions to keep you entertained for days on end, Texel is popular with Dutch and German visitors but is otherwise little-known, making it feel like a real find.

Yacht sailing on turquoise waters.

10. Isles of Scilly, England 

Given England ’s unexotic and often bleak weather, it is all the more extraordinary to think that the country squirrels away an ecological Eden where subtropical succulents, desert cacti and Seychelles-esque palm trees grow like weeds near beautiful beaches . But then again, the Isles of Scilly, 45km (28 miles) off Cornwall ’s southwest shore in the Atlantic Ocean, have always been cut off from mainland Britain, ensuring a unique ecosystem blissfully undisrupted by invasive plant or animal species. This paradisal string of 200-odd islands – five are inhabited – belongs to the Duchy of Cornwall, an ancient royal fiefdom where every local is a tenant of the Prince of Wales. This Scillonian anomaly aside, British tradition is tantalizingly alive and well, from crab sandwiches or fish and chips to creamy ice cream whipped up from island milk and flowers, or farmhouse fudge cooked on an Aga in the farm kitchen.

Girl in yellow raincoat hiking on a trail towards The Old Man of Storr during changeable weather,.

11. Isle of Skye, Scotland 

The second-largest of Scotland’s islands , in the Inner Hebrides, is its most spectacular, with a landscape that lurches from quiet coves and inky lochs to jagged pinnacles, tumbling waterfalls and pleated cliffs. Skye ’s dramatic mountains and undulating moors are easily reached by a bridge from the mainland , but to access the remotest corners and most impressive views you’ll need to take to the high moorland on foot, cycle precipitous mountain roads, or kayak along the puckered and indented coast. Temper it all with a visit to fairy-tale castles, colorful fishing villages and a host of museums, galleries and craft shops in the island’s lively towns. Bring a raincoat, though: the name Skye comes from the old Norse sky-a, meaning "cloud island." The weather here is unpredictable at best, but the scudding clouds and brooding skies only heighten the drama.

A cluster of white coastal cottages right by a windswept beach

12. Inis Mór, Ireland 

The largest of the three Aran Islands in Galway Bay, Inis Mór (Big Island) is a thriving community where Irish is the spoken language and traditional music, culture and heritage go hand in hand with a lively calendar of festivals and events. A vast network of hand-built stone walls crisscross the fissured limestone landscape, with the island’s one road joined by countless lanes and pathways leading to ancient monuments, medieval churches, high crosses, holy wells and stalwart lighthouses. Come to walk, ride or cycle along the edge of Europe, to join a yoga retreat or learn to weave a traditional basket, play a bodhrán (goat-skin drum) or sing in the traditional sean-nós style. Or you could feast on fresh lobster, celebrate the summer solstice or just marvel at the unique light and culture here that have attracted artists and writers for centuries.

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Southwest Airlines selling $53 tickets in celebration of 53 years of flights

top ten travel places

Southwest Airlines is celebrating turning 53 with $53 airfares.

Travelers hoping to score a deal need to book by 11:59 p.m. PT Thursday.

The $53 one-way tickets are only available on select days and routes but include flights to Hawaii, Puerto Rico and international destinations, according to Southwest.

Eligible travel must occur on Mondays-Thursdays or Saturdays between Aug. 6 and Dec. 18 for flights within the lower 48 with  Sept. 2, Oct. 14, Nov. 22-27 and Nov. 29 through Dec. 2 as blackout dates. 

Flights to Hawaii, Puerto Rico and international destinations must occur on Tuesdays or Wednesdays between Aug. 20 and Nov. 20, with Sept. 3 blacked out. 

Some of the routes currently advertising $53 fares are Atlanta to Tampa and Los Angeles to Phoenix. 

Full availability, along with the terms and conditions, are listed on Southwest’s website .

Are changes coming to Southwest?

Southwest Airlines has long been known for its open seating policy, all-economy cabins and multiple free checked bags on every ticket. But amid activist investor scrutiny and changing customer preferences, the airline’s CEO has been signaling that its business model may soon change . 

Zach Wichter is a travel reporter for USA TODAY based in New York. You can reach him at [email protected].

What is the best place to work? Here's a list of the 10 best Florida-based employers

Florida cities have topped three “best places for jobs” lists since April.

First, a suburb of Orlando took third place on CareerMinds.com’s list of the top 10 cities for those looking for a career change . A month later, in May, three Florida cities ranked on WalletHub’s list of the top 10 U.S. cities for starting a career.

And earlier this month, WalletHub released another rankings list of the best places for summer jobs in 2024, ranking three Florida cities in the top 10. 

Based on these lists, jobs are plentiful in the Sunshine State. But what Florida-based companies are the best employers?

A more recent list from U.S. News and World Report ranked the best Florida-based companies to work for. Here’s the list.

What is the best place to work in Florida?

With Florida being a hotspot for domestic tourists, it probably isn’t very surprising that four of the 10 best companies to work for in Florida are in the hotels, restaurants, travel and leisure industries.

Here are the 10 best Florida-based companies to work for, according to U.S. News and World Report’s rankings list:

  • Carnival (Miami) - Best in hotels, restaurants and leisure, ranked in top quality of pay, best companies in the south.
  • Darden (Orlando) - Darden is a family of restaurants that Includes Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, The Capital Grille, Bahama Breeze, Yard House, Eddie V’s, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen and Seasons 52. Darden is ranked among the best companies in the south on U.S. News’s list.
  • FIS (Fidelity National Information Services in Jacksonville) - FIS is based in Jacksonville and employs more than 55,000 people in almost 60 countries. FIS is a globally respected technology provider for capital markets, retail banking and merchant industries.
  • L3Harris (Melbourne) - L3Harris is a defense and aerospace technology manufacturing company that provides tech for air, land, sea, space and cyber domains. L3Harris ranked in top quality of pay, best in manufacturing and among the best companies in the south.
  • MarineMax (Clearwater) - MarineMax is a recreational boat and yacht retailer, receiving best in retail and best companies in the south recognitions on U.S. News’s list.
  • PetMeds (Delray Beach) - PetMeds is an online pet pharmacy and is ranked among the best companies in the south and the best in personal care, drug and grocery stores. PetMeds also received recognition for having a top work environment.
  • Roper Technologies (Sarasota) - Roper is an IT, software and services company that provides tech for niche industries. Roper’s products include Application management software, sensor networks, campus card and cashless systems, laboratory information management solutions, network software and technology-enabled products. Roper is ranked among the best in IT, software and services and the best companies in the south.
  • SBA Communications Corporation (Boca Raton) - SBA is a real estate investment trust that owns and operates wireless communications infrastructure. SBA controls assets like towers, buildings, rooftops, antenna systems and other tools to support wireless carriers and digital service providers. SBA ranked among the best companies in the south and received recognition for top quality of pay.
  • Spirit Airlines (Dania Beach) - Spirit Airlines also received recognition for top quality of pay and ranked among the best companies in the south.
  • Travel + Leisure Co. (Orlando) - Travel + Leisure Co. owns Margaritaville resorts, Wyndham resorts, Sports Illustrated resorts and more. Travel +Leisure Co. received recognition for being among the best in hotels, restaurant and leisure and also ranked among the best companies in the south.

What is a normal salary in Florida?

Depending on where you live in the state and what job you have , living in Florida can be affordable. 

First-time home buyers may want to choose a different state to settle down on a budget and prices for things like groceries and insurance in Florida are some of the highest in the nation , but it isn’t all bad news.

To make ends meet in Florida, you typically don’t have to make more than the national average salary (around $59,000).

According to BankRate and MIT’s living wage calculator , a single adult with no children would need to earn a minimum of $36,848 to make ends meet in Florida. Cost of living is subjective to where you’re located in the state, though. 

For example, residents in some metropolitan areas across southeast Florida need to make $100,000 each year in order to avoid being rent burdened.

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A line of tourists walks along a pathway at Utah’s Arches National Park.

Overtourism Is Out of Control. Here Are the New Rules of Travel.

Post-pandemic travel is surging, and overtourism is pushing popular places to their limits. How can you be a good traveler when some locals just want you to go home?

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Heading out the door? Read this article on the Outside app available now on iOS devices for members! >","name":"in-content-cta","type":"link"}}'>Download the app .

I was in Hawaii with a group of friends, and a local screamed at us to go home. The island was overcrowded, and while I know tourists can be obnoxious and disrespectful, we were being conscientious. I don’t want to give up visiting the world’s most beautiful places, but I also don’t want to add to overtourism. Can I continue to wander where I want to? —Afraid of Anti-Tourists

I grew up in a tourist town on the Jersey Shore, so I understand the frustration of residents who live in vacation destinations. Each summer I’d grouse as throngs of visitors took over beaches, snarled traffic, and made parking impossible. But their tourism dollars were a boon to the local economy, and the tips I made waitressing during high season helped pay my way through college.

Now I split my time between Colorado and Maui and have seen firsthand how the current influx of visitors impact the environment and longtime residents. Peak season in either place—when it feels like tourists outnumber residents—is maddening, and it turns my typical routine upside down.

The local coffee shops where I sometimes work remotely from are mobbed, so I usually stay home. If I don’t do my grocery shopping as soon as stores open, I have to drive in circles indefinitely, searching for parking. Popular restaurants have hour-plus wait times, so my friends and I abandon hopes of dining out.

The Hawaiian Islands’ most recent Resident Sentiment Survey , conducted by Hawaii’s Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism, revealed that 67 percent believe their islands are being run for tourists at the expense of locals, and that many feel tourists show a lack of respect for them, culture, and the land. I often bike to Hana, a sleepy east-Maui town with a population of around 700, and I’ve seen residents native to Hawaii set up roadblocks and signs asking tourists to go home. I understand. This was their land.

Locals in other tourist towns have figured out ways of coping. “I avoid the downtown plaza all summer while tourists are here,” says Outside travel director Mary Turner, who lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. “I’m happy that businesses are being supported by tourism, especially after the devastating affects of the pandemic on them. But I do get frustrated when I see visitors being disrespectful, like smoking on hiking trails during fire season.”

Kevin Rieke, a longtime local business owner in Leavenworth, Washington, who grew up hiking in the Cascade Mountains, blames Instagram for crowding his favorite trails. But he also sees the positive: thanks to a boost in tourist numbers, he says, the town now has a dozen really good restaurants that residents can enjoy in the slow seasons, and it’s easier for local kids to find jobs.

Global travel has made a comeback, and people are more eager than ever to get out in the world. According to UN Tourism , by the end of 2024, numbers will have returned to pre-pandemic levels. The International Air Transportation Association predicts that air travel this year will reach a historic high, with 4.7 billion people expected to take flight worldwide.

A local of Palma, Spain, holds up a sign that reads "Too many tourists. Too many cars. Too many yachts. Too many bicycles. Too much waste. Too much pollution. SOS Residents."

One of the biggest problems is that visitors continue to flock to the same places, like Venice and Paris, as well as the more popular national parks in the U.S. I include myself in that flock: I still feel compelled to visit places that are now overtouristed, like Rome and Bali. They’re bucket-list destinations for good reason.

So should you stop traveling to the world’s most beautiful places? As a travel journalist, I’m always going to encourage you to get out there and explore. But with heightened pressures on popular destinations around the globe, we could all stand to take a moment to learn how to be a more conscious tourist. Here are my suggestions.

Pay Tourist Fees to Support Local Economies

Travel meccas such as Amsterdam, Iceland, and Bali have started implementing a tourist tax for peak months to help temper visitation. Venice, which has a mere 50,000 residents, incredibly hosts 30 million visitors annually, many of them day-trippers who put little money back into the economy. Which is why, in April, the city introduced a trial fee of 5 euros ($5.45) per day on certain dates through July. The tariff has drawn criticism from residents who feel it makes visitors view their home like a park.

Crowds of tourists pack the streets of Venice, Italy.

The town of Bend, Oregon, recently created a sustainability fund that puts revenue generated from a short-term-lodging tax—paid by visitors—into community-focused projects, such as a bike-park and trail improvements. “The idea is to use the money to address environmental degradation and invest in projects that locals and visitors can enjoy, so you have a social equilibrium that keeps a destination in balance,” says Todd Montgomery, the board chair for Visit Bend.

Paying a nominal fee to protect the places we love is the least we can do.

Expect to Plan Ahead and Make Reservations

The pandemic created a passion for outdoor recreation, and as a result, our national parks became overcrowded. An increasing number of popular parks in America, such as Yosemite, have implemented reservation systems for peak times. At first the planning seemed annoying, but the result is often a better quality experience for visitors and a lighter footprint on the land.

A large group of tourists gather at the Grand Canyon's South Rim to take photos of sunrise.

Learn Local Outdoor Etiquette

The pandemic introduced many new people to the joy of the outdoors, which is wonderful. But some hit the trails without basic knowledge about how to recreate responsibly.

“I’ve never seen more dog feces unpicked up, people going off route and trampling sensitive areas, Bluetooth-enabled speakers blaring out of backpacks, and Disney-like lines on sections of trails,” says Jim Deters, founder of the Gravity Haus hotels, which are located in more than a half dozen mountain towns across the West.

One of Deter’s goals with his properties is to provide visitors a truly local experience by creating an environment where they can mingle with residents—not just be served by them at a bar or restaurant. “We are the local’s gym, coworking space, and coffee shop,” says Deters. Sharing advice tends to happen organically in these settings.

Kayla Applebay, a resident and business owner in Leavenworth, Washington, says she won’t go to the rivers on summer weekends because tourists turn them into tube-clogged waterways. “You see people walking on salmon habitat, leaving trash everywhere,” she says. “Last summer a car caught on fire, and emergency services couldn’t access it because people had parked illegally.”

The town acted. In 2022, it launched a cheeky campaign called Give a Schnitzel (Leavenworth is known for its Bavarian heritage and Oktoberfest) to educate visitors on how to recreate responsibly. It also hired volunteer recreation ambassadors who post up at trailheads or river put-ins and take-outs, fielding questions and explaining rules. “They’ve probably saved quite a few lives by telling people to unleash from their paddleboards on the rapids,” says Troy Campbell, executive director of the Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce.

The upshot is: educate yourself on the area you’re going to. What’s happening there right now? What are locals concerned about? Keep up to date with issues by reading local news sites and magazines, visiting a local outdoor store and asking questions, or joining a local group-cycling ride or trail run.

If you screw up, always give a heartfelt apology. In Hawaiian culture, kids are taught Pa’a ka waha, ho’olohe ka pepeaio, nana ka maka , or “Shut your mouth, listen, watch,” says Kainoa Horcajo, a Maui-based cultural consultant. “This is how you can learn how to get along, how to fit in—and how to be a good tourist, citizen, human.”

Book Your Trip in the Offseason or a Shoulder Season

A massive crowd gathers to watch Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park.

When you travel during these slower times, not only do you help reduce overcrowding but you’re also likely to have a more enjoyable experience and find better prices and more patient locals, says Amanda Ho, co-founder of Regenerative Travel, a booking platform with a collective of independently owned eco-hotels.

Spring, fall, and winter are good seasons to consider traveling to national parks and other popular places.

A few people mingle around Old Faithful in winter.

Stay and Play with Locally Owned Businesses

When you can be selective with the accommodations, tour guides, and experiences you’re booking, says Ho, it ensures your dollars are supporting residents as often as possible. Many locals’ livelihoods depend on tourism, so avoid big-box stores and chain restaurants in favor of eating and shopping at resident-owned places.

Some Other Rules to Travel By

A female tourist holds a camera up to shoot a nearby bison in the wild.

  • Don’t hold up traffic. This holds true from Manhattan to Maui. When you want to take photos, find an appropriate place for it that doesn’t slow down pedestrian or street traffic.
  • Don’t create your own parking spaces. The lines are there for public safety and environmental protection. In Lake Tahoe, which straddles the California-Nevada border, illegal parking can create erosion and that runoff often ends up in the lake.
  • Don’t use other people’s property as a bathroom. Would you want your kids to see a grown man’s behind poking out of the trees of your yard?
  • Don’t go off-trail. It can disturb flora and fauna and pose safety risks to yourself.
  • Don’t approach wildlife. Not the bison in our national parks or whales or dolphins while boating or snorkeling.
  • Don’t geotag popular natural attractions on social media. It may be tempting to social-boast about your epic vacation, but a viral post can ruin a destination with Instagram-obsessed crowds.
  • Don’t be rude to service workers. They’re employed to make your time safe and more enjoyable. Insulting them is about as inconsiderate as it gets.

Remember That Tourism Destinations Are Fragile

Yes, many economies depend on tourism, but too much of it is bad for everyone. Overcrowding adversely affects both locals and tourists, and in the long run it can ruin the natural beauty that made a destination desirable in the first place.

Todd Montgomery, who in addition to working for Visit Bend is the director of Oregon State University’s Sustainable Tourism Lab (which describes itself as “protecting tourist destinations for future generations of visitors and tourists”), got his start working for the mega-resort conglomerate Starwood Capital Group, where he was tasked with finding the next “it” destination in Southeast Asia between 1999 and 2006.

He and his colleagues would go into rural areas, promising the positive economic benefits of tourism to locals, only to have those areas “burn out” on visitation years later.

Initially, he says, travelers “paid for the culture and nature, but when that became diluted as the result of too many visitors, they weren’t inclined to pay as much,” he says. The visitor experience was negatively affected, but the destination also suffered from some combination of environmental damages, infrastructure wear and tear, and cultural damages, resulting in economic, social and environmental costs.

“Back then we assumed there was always another next destination,” Montgomery says. “If Phuket [in Thailand] got overrun, we’d go farther south. The reality was that there are only so many next destinations. You can’t have a turn-and-burn mentality. You have to protect places.” How do we do that, I ask him?

“It feels cliché,” he tells me, “but it starts with education.” 

The author sitting atop a red Vespa with the Roman Colosseum behind her.

Travel-advice columnist Jen Murphy wishes she could charge people a fee every time they try to take a selfie with a turtle on the beaches in Maui. 

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The 50 Best Places to Travel in 2021

When the time comes to travel again, these destinations — all right in your own backyard — are the ones to visit next.

Since 1971, Travel + Leisure editors have followed one mission: to inform, inspire, and guide travelers to have deeper, more meaningful experiences. T+L's editors have traveled to countries all over the world, having flown, sailed, road tripped, and taken the train countless miles. They've visited small towns and big cities, hidden gems and popular destinations, beaches and mountains, and everything in between. With a breadth of knowledge about destinations around the globe, air travel, cruises, hotels, food and drinks, outdoor adventure, and more, they are able to take their real-world experience and provide readers with tried-and-tested trip ideas, in-depth intel, and inspiration at every point of a journey.

Even for the compulsive jetsetters among us, it's a simple truth that most travel stories are aspirational in the best of times. There are too many incredible places to see, not enough vacation days, and sometimes we all have to content ourselves with scrawling another spot on the bucket list and hoping the stars align.

But this year, as we all sat at home and watched the world come to a halt, "aspirational" took on new meaning. When restrictions relaxed this summer , the familiar wanderlust crept back in. With even the most straightforward international getaways ruled out, and many travelers still hesitant to hop on a plane, even simple trips — scenic drives , camping weekends , staycations across town — suddenly felt novel and luxurious.

Related : Guide to more travel ideas

With the first vaccines now rolling out, it seems the end of our long international nightmare is finally (finally!) in sight. In anticipation of that moment, we've once again compiled our annual list of the best places to travel in the coming year — with one twist. In honor of our revived appreciation for the discoveries to be made in our own backyards, this year's list features 50 dynamic, of-the-moment destinations — all right here in the United States.

Related : The Top 15 Cities in the United States

Some spots on the list ahead are newly blossoming thanks to hotel or infrastructure developments or revamped cultural attractions. Others caught on this summer, as social distancing made empty expanses of wilderness more compelling than ever and we all looked for new wells of charm in our own home states. What they all have in common is that singularity that makes a destination memorable — the sense that this place has something to offer that you won't find anywhere else in the world.

One day soon, we'll all get back to traveling the way we did before. We'll gripe about security lines and airplane meals , delight at hearing an unfamiliar language or staying in a new hotel , develop passionate loyalties for a particular food truck or coffee kiosk. Until then, we hope this list will serve as something to hold onto — to stoke your wanderlust and keep the tiny flame of optimism burning. Sure, it's a little bit aspirational. But that just means we're still willing to dream.

Related : The 50 Best Places to Travel in 2020

Ahead, Travel + Leisure 's 50 best places to travel in 2021, listed in alphabetical order.

1. Alaska's Coast

In the midst of the pandemic, Alaska's entire May to September cruise season was cancelled in 2020. That left some 1.3 million travelers unable to board ships to experience thunderously calving glaciers, frolicking humpback whales, lively gold rush towns, and fascinating Alaska Native arts scenes. Tourism providers missed serious income. Cruise lines and local officials express muted optimism about 2021, which may be the best year to see Alaska given that cruise ships are unlikely to sail full and coastal towns won't have their typical crowds even post-vaccine rollout. Or skip the civilization part: Vast national parks such as Glacier Bay, Misty Fjords, and Kenai Fjords are best reached by boat. Small ship soft-adventure lines such as UnCruise Adventures and Lindblad Expeditions — and ultra-luxurious Seabourn with its zodiac and kayak exploration program on the 450-passenger Seabourn Odyssey — have one-week itineraries that spend most of their time in the wild. For more privacy, rent the six-passenger, 78-foot Sea Mist for a luxury yachting experience in Prince William Sound, home to more active tidewater glaciers than anywhere else in the world. — Fran Golden

Listen to Travel + Leisure's "Let's Go Together" podcast for more inspiring stories and adventures celebrating inclusivity in travel!

2. Astoria, Oregon

Goonies never say die, and neither does the nostalgia of visiting Astoria, the northwestern Oregon town at the mouth of the Columbia River where the '80s cult classic film was shot. The oldest American settlement in the West, this charming seaside town evokes a simpler time with its colorful Victorian houses and treasure-filled antique shops. Around these parts, freshness matters only for fish and beer. A new mobile passport program by the North Coast Craft Beer Trail ensures drinkers find their way to both big names like Fort George Brewery — famous for its IPAs — and smaller spots like the 20-barrel Buoy Beer , built in a former fish cannery right on the river. It's one of many old cannery sites that have found new lives here, most notably the boutique Cannery Pier Hotel , where new ownership plans a February unveiling of renovations to its spa — famed for the Finnish sauna and water-view hot tub. Though the town made its name on tinned fish, Astoria now thrives on the direct connection to fresh seafood at places like South Bay Wild Fish House, from the family behind a fishing vessel of the same name. At their restaurant, sustainably caught Dungeness crab, Oregon pink shrimp, black cod, and more goes direct from boat to bánh mì. — Naomi Tomky

3. The Berkshires

City-dwellers have been visiting this region of gently rolling hills and charmingly sedate towns in Western Massachusetts since the 19th century, but a welcome boost of youthful energy arrived with the 2018 opening of the design-forward hotel Tourists in North Adams and, last year, the launch of Miraval Berkshires , the third location of the luxe wellness resort. While summer is still the most popular season, thanks in part to the beloved classical music venue Tanglewood and dance center Jacob's Pillow, there are still plenty of opportunities for social distancing, from the enormous exhibition spaces at the contemporary art museum Mass Moca , to the pastoral acres surrounding the Clark Art Institute (home to the Institute's first-ever outdoor exhibition, Ground/work, through October 2021), to a hike up Mount Greylock or Monument Mountain, to a meal at Cantina 229 , a restaurant set on a farm that offers outdoor seating in warmer months. Mooncloud, a new bar in Great Barrington, is riding out the pandemic with a slate of to-go meals and cocktail kits. Tuck in for the night at the peaceful but chic Inn at Kenmore Hall , a bed and breakfast in a classical Georgian estate. — Peter Terzian

4. Big Sky, Montana

Big Sky 's 5,800 acres of skiable terrain makes it a fan favorite for crowd-free skiing in the Rocky Mountains. But a multi-year, $150 million investment into Big Sky Resort aims to transform this region of Southwest Montana into America's Alps, meaning skiers may soon have to share their powder-perfect runs. Last year, The Wilson Hotel , a Residence Inn by Marriott, made headlines when it became the first and only major brand hotel to open in Big Sky's town center (don't miss the soon-to-open Tips Up, a vintage-inspired tavern across the street). Now, all eyes are on the $400 million ultra-luxury Montage Big Sky , which will open its doors for the 2021-22 ski season within Spanish Peaks Mountain Club , a 3,500-acre private golf and ski community. The 150-key resort features ski-in, ski-out access, an 11,000-square-foot spa, and a four-lane bowling alley. In warmer climes, guests can enjoy the development's 18-hole golf course, nearby fly-fishing rivers, and an extensive network of hiking and mountain biking trails. Two slope-side hotels, the Summit and the Huntley Lodge , have renovations in the works, and Moonlight Basin , another private development adjacent to the ski resort, has plans to build a luxury hotel (a One&Only if the rumors are true) on its 8,000-acre-property, which is also home to a thousand-acre high-elevation Jack Nicklaus signature golf course. New airlift is ushering travelers from Nashville, Fort Lauderdale, and Charlotte, N.C. to Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport (less than an hour's drive from downtown Big Sky), while a new six-person high-speed chairlift will begin whizzing people up Lone Peak in record time starting next November. When the snow melts, Big Sky's 18-mile proximity to Yellowstone National Park adds even more appeal for nature lovers in search of epic adventures in the great outdoors. Just be sure to get there before everyone else does. — Nora Walsh

5. Birmingham, Alabama

The modern scene in The Magic City is a great example of what can happen when Alabama kids head off to the big city to hone their skills, then return home to do their thing — in a really high-quality way. Take Chef Adam Evans: the Muscle Shoals native worked in New Orleans and New York and opened The Optimist with Ford Fry in Atlanta before heading back to B-Ham to launch Automatic Seafood & Oysters . Moves like this — along with quirky java shops ( Red Cat Coffee House ), upscale cocktail bars ( Paper Doll ), a women-owned vegan food truck , and the Pizitz global food hall — have brought a vibrancy to the city, where contemporary charm and old Southern hospitality mingle on a big scale. The destination is catching up to demand for luxury lifestyle hotels with the Valley Hotel , opening in the historic, cool-again suburb Homewood in January with a new outpost of Edgar's Bakery and more restaurants to come. Railroad Park , a 19-acre green space, has transformed downtown over the last decade, with walking trails, food truck festivals, and an outdoor symphony. And look for Protective Stadium , a 47,000-seat facility and entertainment district, to open in 2021. —Kelsey Ogletree

6. The Black Hills of South Dakota

The great American road trip is the best example of the journey as the destination. As Americans took to the road in search of wide-open spaces this year , places that may have been overlooked for lack of airlift found a new audience. South Dakota's Black Hills have long been a mandatory road trip stop — its mountains are home to Mount Rushmore, the historic town of Deadwood, and several national monuments and parks — and now it's back on the map as a destination in its own right. The region first got a little more glamour two years ago, when glamping outfitter Under Canvas raised its tent poles among the pine and juniper trees just four miles from the presidential monument. And this year, intrepid travelers can see the area in a fresh way with the debut of Adventure Cycling's new Parks, Peaks, and Prairies cycling route, which pieces together trails winding from Yellowstone to Minneapolis. Over in historic Deadwood, a new year-round public space in the heart of town, Outlaw Square, is home to a slew of activities that sound luxurious after nearly a year in lockdown — movie nights, concerts — while in Rapid City, work is underway on the Monument, a massive civic center expansion that will bring bigger crowds to landmark events like the Black Hills Powwow , which marks its 35th anniversary next fall. — Scott Bay

7. Buffalo, New York

Sure, you've heard rumblings about Buffalo's restaurants, or maybe its brewery boom. But lately, the city is getting attention for its visual arts scene — and most notably, a game-changing new gallery that's Native American-owned and dedicated entirely to Indigenous art. Dave Kimelberg, a member of the Seneca Nation of Indians, founded K. Art — the only gallery of its kind in the U.S. — this year in an effort to showcase the diversity of Native nations and carve out a bigger space in the market for contemporary Native works. Elsewhere in the city, the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is undergoing a massive expansion, currently slated for completion in 2022; until then, visit the institution's Northland campus, or explore projects across the city from the AK Public Art Initiative . Still more developments are in the works: the $65 million Silo City restoration and reuse will bring arts, commercial, and exhibition space to a string of abandoned grain silos, and golf brand OnCore is launching a massive golf complex and hotel on the Buffalo River. — Scott Bay

8. Burlington, Vermont

Escaping to Vermont sounds like a way to get in touch with nature and spend some time on a farm, but Burlington has all the offerings of a much larger city — plus opportunities to get some much-needed fresh air. The city is home to an array of bars and restaurants slinging creative drinks: Deli 126 , The Archives , Misery Loves Co. , Peg & Ter's , and a collaboration between Orlando's Bar & Lounge and Grandma's Spanish Kitchen with Cuban and Peruvian influences. CO Cellars — located in the Soda Plant , a small business base camp with everything from custom lighting to pickles — sells local naturally fermented fruit wines from ZAFA Wines and Shacksbury Cider. And if that's not enough, Dedalus Wine Shop and Market will help you taste through an array of natural wines from around the world, paired with housemade charcuterie, cheeses, and Spanish-inspired bites from the kitchen. Enjoy a slice of private beach with stand-up paddleboarding, yoga, and windsurfing at Burlington Surf Club when the weather is warmer. When there's at least a few inches of snow on the ground, the adventurous can try winter sports: Hotel Vermont will equip you with gear to get you going, whether you want to go snowshoeing or Nordic skiing through the snowy streets or down Vermont hillsides, dare to try snowkiting, or prefer to ice skate on the frozen parts of Lake Champlain. To fuel up for — or warm up after — some time in the snow, try an array of pakoras at the newly-opened Elaichi , tacos and margs at Taco Gordo , dynamic Chinese fare at A Single Pebble 's brick-and-mortar restaurant or roving food truck, or the combo of Café Mamajuana 's Dominican fusion and Poppy Café & Market 's creative sandwiches in one shared space. Wherever you go, you'll get a combination of small-town hospitality and big-city amenities. — Alyse Whitney

9. Cape May, New Jersey

During the summer of 1852, Harriet Tubman worked as a cook and housekeeper in Cape May, the seaside resort town where the Delaware Bay rushes into the Atlantic Ocean at the knifepoint of New Jersey. That was her day job, anyway. Given that Cape May was a hive of abolitionist activity at the time, it's long been accepted that Tubman's real work was guiding enslaved men and women through this critically situated junction between the South and freedom in Philadelphia and points north. Opening on Juneteenth, the years-in-the-works Harriet Tubman Museum chronicles her time in Cape May while contextualizing the city's status as a critical (and critically overlooked) place in Black history. The museum occupies the former parson's house of the historic Macedonian Baptist Church, and the late Reverend Robert Davis's collection of artifacts (Bantu and Bakota masks, iron shackles used on enslaved peoples) ties the experience back to Africa and the transatlantic slave trade. A few blocks away, the Underground Railroad trolley tour departs to landmarks like abolitionist Stephen Smith's house and the Franklin Street School, the city's first segregated school (slated to become a cultural arts and community center). Renewed interest in Cape May has energized the staid hotel stock, with Philly's Lokal brand opening a crisp beach house with a saltwater pool and the famed Peter Shields Inn debuting Inn Town Suites , a pair of palm-patterned quarters above Willow & Stone , a handsome boutique stocked with waterproof ORI knapsacks and knit cashmere for the modern seafaring rake. For more privacy, the meticulously furnished, ag-fantasy Cottages at Bach Plum Farm are situated on the less developed north side of town betwixt blackberry brambles and heritage hog paddocks — and a leisurely walk to the Cape May Lighthouse , a beacon for safety seekers fleeing slavery and stormy seas since 1859. — Adam Erace

10. The Catskills

From the 1920s to the 60s the scenic mountain region about two hours north of Manhattan boomed as the Borscht Belt, full of sprawling resorts catering chiefly to summering Jewish families. Today, young urbanites are snapping up weekend houses in the area at an ever-increasing rate, and entrepreneurs are following their lead by opening small, design-y hotels all over the region. The 15-room Shandaken Inn , in the village of Shandaken, puts outdoor enthusiasts within 25 minutes of the popular zipline canopy tours on Hunter Mountain and 35 minutes of the hiking trail to Kaaterskill Falls, the tallest cascading waterfall in the state. Seven miles down the road is the third outpost from Urban Cowboy . This 28-room fully embraces its rural setting near the Big Indian Wilderness forest preserve with on-site pursuits that include swimming and fishing for trout in the Esopus Creek. About an hour and a half southwest of Big Indian, Kenoza Hall began as a boarding house in the early 1900s. Sims Foster and his wife, Kirsten Harlow Foster, who own the nearby DeBruce inn , have overhauled the building, marrying historic touches like the original hardwood floors with custom elements, including sleigh beds. The boomlet shows no signs of slowing in 2021. Homeware design duo Nolan McHugh and Trevor Briggs are set to enter the hospitality scene in March with Piaule Catskill , a 24-cabin landscape hotel located just outside the region's namesake town. (Expect minimalist structures with lots of glass accented by steel and cedar.) Then in April, Sant Singh Chatwal of the Dream Hotel Group will open Chatwal Lodge in Bethel. Making the most of its position on 60 forested acres of the Chapin Estate, the refuge looks out onto the Toronto Reservoir and takes inspiration from its natural surroundings for decor elements like hand-carved wood accents and massive stone fireplaces. Accommodations will consist of 10 suites, a treehouse, and a glamping tent, and the food and beverage options will include a farm-to-table restaurant that will source fish from the onsite trout stream and produce from its own kitchen garden. — Sarah Bruning

11. Cincinnati, Ohio

The first clues that the Queen City — a Rust Belt capital that was hard hit by the decline of American manufacturing — was poised for a comeback started a few years ago, when tech startups and small businesses moved into disused Over-the-Rhine warehouses, filmmakers flocked in to take advantage of tax breaks and early-20th-century architecture, and historic spaces like the city's Music Hall got a much-needed polish. Now, the urban revival is official — but sneak in a 2021 visit and you can still claim to be a trendsetter. Check into the Kinley , which opened its doors in downtown Cincy in October with a much-buzzed-about restaurant from chefs Kevin Ashworth and Edward Lee. While you're in town, dine at restaurant standouts Please and Goose & Elder , explore new outdoor installations at the Cincinnati Art Museum , and pay a visit the lauded Cincinnati Zoo , whose animal dispatches on social media are the only reasonable justification for keeping your Twitter account. —Lila Battis

12. Delaware

Over the past year, Delaware has been making headlines as the de facto HQ for No. 46 and his transition team, but there's plenty of reason for buzz beyond politics. Many of the recent developments that have drawn young professionals to the capital of Wilmington from nearby hubs like Philadelpha — creative businesses, a high-caliber culinary scene, fewer crowds — also appeal to travelers. Wilmington's marquee hotel, Hotel DuPont , recently underwent a multi-million dollar refurbishment that breathed new life into its iconic Green Room, which now houses the refined French restaurant Le Cavalier, and added De.CO , a casual food hall with six stalls and a bar. Sartorially inclined visitors would do well to check out wares from Town and Store Studio. (For the time being, designer Liv McClintock is selling her handmade leather goods and jewelry via pop-ups and trunk shows.) And though Torbert Street Social is temporarily closed to adhere to COVID restrictions, the recent addition to Wilmington's cocktail scene is worth a stop for such well-crafted originals as the LL Mule J, which pairs vodka with blood orange and kombucha. Come summer, it'll be hard to stay away from the revitalized Riverfront area, which encompasses a number of seafood joints and provides access to watersports and local walking trails. — Sarah Bruning

13. Denver's Lower Highlands

When you visit a city, you want to be based where the cool crowd is. In Denver, that means the hip, arty Lower Highlands neighborhood. LoHi, as it's known by locals, has long been the city's hub for creative cocktails, craft breweries, and cult restaurants, like Pan-Latin small plates spot Señor Bear and Israeli hit Ash'Kara . In the face of a pandemic, the hood has loyally supported exciting newcomers including Fifth String , a restaurant focused on family-style dishes and natural wines, and Room for Milly , a cocktail bar inspired by the roaring 20s. The recent addition of 17-room Life House Lower Highlands finally gives visitors an option beyond Airbnb if they want to be immersed in the LoFi action. Located in the heart of the Navajo Street Art District, the intimate stay transports guests to a Victorian-era pioneer homestead — but, y'know, cool — with furnishings upholstered in dusty florals, Wild West nods like cowhide detailing and vintage cowboy photos, and a sexy, saloon-inspired restaurant and bar. Through an exclusive partnership with conservation-minded land management group Ranchlands, guests can escape the city for a day and experience the frontier spirit firsthand at Chico Basin Ranch . For a jolt of 21st-century culture, downtown Denver is just a short walk away and will unveil a massive art installation from New Mexico-backed artist collective Meow Wolf later this year. — Jen Murphy

14. Florida's Middle Keys

The closest you can get to a Caribbean vacation without leaving the continental U.S., the laid-back islands between Key Largo and Key West took the brunt of Hurricane Irma in 2017 and are where you want to visit in 2021 to connect with one of the country's most fragile ecosystems, both above and below sea level: astronomer-led stargazing walks at the family-friendly Hawk's Cay on Duck Key; Grimal Grove , where community organizer-turned-tropical fruit farmer Patrick Garvey is raising five varieties of nutritious breadfruit to fight hunger insecurity; the Turtle Hospital on Marathon, whose recent 911s include caring for babies beached by Hurricane Eta and endangered Kemps-Ridleys cold-stunned (like hypothermia for turtles) in Cape Cod. While unseasonably chilly water spells trouble up north, warming seas and a still-unidentified infection has bleached up to 98 percent of the Keys' local reef — the largest in North America — but the young scientists at the MOTE Elizabeth Moore marine lab on Summerland Key are in the midst of a promising project to rejuvenate the crippled reef through lab reproduction (like IVF for coral). You can even participate in a hands-on underwater coral transplant through a new partnership with Captain Hook 's dive center on Big Pine. To balance good work with sybaritic indulgence, there's no beating the scalloped pool and impeccable residences at Marathon's recently reopened Marlin Bay Resort & Marina . The resort is walking distance to Keys Fisheries , the best place in the islands for stone crab, a sustainable specialty that goes for $3 a claw in season at the pleasingly disheveled upstairs bar. — Adam Erace

15. Fort Worth, Texas

A walloping dose of Texas heritage — with some luxe, modern updates — is drawing visitors to hit the city where the West begins. The historic Fort Worth Stockyards , once a resupply stop for cattle drovers, captures the celebrated legacy of Texas' bustling livestock industry with rodeos, a history museum, and the world's only twice-daily cattle drive. It's also home to an array of boutiques rich with Lone Star style: In Mule Alley, visit Lucchese for a pair of hand-stitched boots, and stop at Stetson for the obligatory cowboy hat. The forthcoming Hotel Drover , too, will pay homage to the cowboys of old. Set to open in early 2021, the property has a design sensibility that's Old West-meets-Spanish Colonial, with a sprinkling of Victorian smoking lounge moodiness. Embark on a tour of the city's booming creative scene with stops at Art Tooth and the recently renovated Amon Carter Museum of American Art , then cap off your evening with some of Texas's best grain-to-glass bourbon at Blackland Distilling . Stay overnight at the soon-to-open Hotel Dryce , a posh, locally owned boutique hotel and bar situated in Fort Worth's Cultural District. — Gabrielle Nicole Pharms

16. Galena, Illinois

Hidden from the highway just a 30-minute drive from Dubuque, the town of Galena was once the largest riverboat port north of St. Louis. That may have made it one of the state's most influential cities in its 19th-century heyday, but today, history buffs are more likely to recognize it by name as home to nine former Civil War generals, most famously Ulysses S. Grant. And in an era when all of us are rediscovering regional treasures instead of heading further afield, the town has all the makings of the perfect afternoon: A main street just blocks from the Galena River that can be fully explored in a few hours, regional history museums , quirky boutiques, art galleries showcasing local talents , a bar on every corner, and a handful of restaurants. The magic begins not at the P.T. Murphy Magic Theatre , but on the journey into the downtown district: the quick and distinct shift from convenient fast food stops and gas stations to Late Victorian facades and cobblestones sets an oddly comforting tone, whether you're a repeat visitor or not. Galena's easygoing charm is enough to draw both domestic and international tourists, but taking a walk along what's locally known as the "Helluva Half Mile" will plant itself in your memory. If you're looking to extend your stay, book a room at the DeSoto House , the state's oldest operating hotel. —Erika Owen

17. Grand Staircase-Escalante, Utah

Glamping retreats gained new appeal in 2020 as travelers scrambled to safely scratch the vacation itch. And though the vaccine promises a slow return to normal in the months ahead, the taste for luxury in the wild is here to stay. That's good news for luxury glamping operator Under Canvas, which will round out its western offerings with the new Under Canvas Lake Powell-Grand Staircase next year. The property sits on a 220-acre expanse right on the edge of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument , and guests staying in one of its 50 tents can enjoy all the standard Under Canvas amenities — chic, modern furnishings, s'mores by the fire — along with the option to tack on visits to the brand's other area properties for a full Southwestern road trip experience. Just a few miles down the road in Canyon Point, Aman, too, is jumping on the tented-camp trend with Camp Sarika , a ten-suite Amangiri offshoot that has an away-from-it-all feel — along with heated plunge pools, fire pits, soaking tubs, and views of the sunset over the surrounding mesas. —Lila Battis

18. The Gulf Coast

Picture a white-sand beach, clear aquamarine water, gently swaying palms — the almost-too-perfect scene that looks for all the world like a Caribbean paradise or a remote cove in the Seychelles. Along the Gulf Coast, beauty like this is a given, and a road-trip is the best way to get your fill. Tampa is a great kickoff point; stay at the newly opened Hotel Haya , which nods to the city's Cuban roots. On the Florida Panhandle, the cluster of towns that make up the Emerald Coast offer charms to spare. Grab a vacation rental for a few days to explore tony Alys Beach, which feels for all the world like it was plucked from a Grecian isle — its private shoreline, miles of meandering bike paths, and see-and-be-seen pool-restaurant complex have made it a favorite among the ultrawealthy. Over in Sandestin, Hotel Effie opens this February, with 250 rooms and a restaurant from chef Hugh Acheson. Time your trip right and you can make it to the Emerald Coast Open , a tournament focused on spearing invasive lionfish. At the corresponding Restaurant Week, local chefs work delicious magic with a fish long written off as bad eating. End your trip in Alabama's twin Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, where repair efforts are underway after Hurricane Sally swept through this fall. Family-friendly Perdido's Beach Resort will reopen in March after a full renovation, and closed areas of Gulf State Park are expected to reopen next year. Luckily, some of the area's biggest highlights — its 32 miles of pristine powder beaches, the carnival of seafood delights at Fisher's — remain unchanged. —Lila Battis

19. Indianapolis, Indiana

Indianapolis may be famous for its annual Indy 500 motorsports race, but it's the state capital's arts and culture scene that's revving on all cylinders. Next year, the eight-mile Cultural Trail will undergo a two-mile extension, making it even easier to explore Circle City's attractions on two wheels, including the revamped Madam Walker Legacy Center and the new 12-acre Bottleworks District along Carrollton Ave. Here, a $300 million investment is giving new life to an Art Deco gem—a 1930s Coca-Cola bottling plant whose restored terracotta facade, original terrazzo floors and tilework, and vintage brass doors will be on full display at the 139-room Bottleworks Hotel debuting this month. An Asian-fusion restaurant, coffee bar, nail salon, and speakeasy are coming soon to the property, while old maintenance garages across the street are being converted into a 20-vendor food hall , a duckpin bowling bar and an independent movie theater. This spring, James Beard-nominated chef Abbi Merriss will open Kan-Kan , an arthouse cinema and brasserie in Windsor Park, while chef Craig Baker is using colorful shipping containers to repurpose a 40,000 square foot building in the 16 Tech neighborhood into a food lover's paradise with a European-style marketplace and dining venues. In June, THE LUME will permanently transform The Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields ' 30,000-square-foot fourth floor into a digital art space with an inaugural exhibit featuring 3,000 moving images of Vincent Van Gogh paintings set to a classical music score. — Nora Walsh

20. Kansas City, Missouri

The City of Fountains has so much more to offer than its (rightly praised) barbecue. The Crossroads Arts District, in particular, has seen notable growth since the Crossroads Hotel reopened inside the former Pabst bottling plant in 2018. Last February saw the arrival of Mean Mule Distilling Co.'s Agave Lounge, a tasting room dedicated to blue-agave–based spirits. James Beard finalist Michael Corvino's late-night burger (served at his fine-dining supper club) became so popular that, in September, he decided to launch a dedicated venture, Ravenous, inside food hall Parlor KC . Several new breweries have also established roots in the neighborhood, with Casual Animal , Border Brewing Co. , Double Shift , and Torn Label . Elsewhere in the city, female entrepreneurs have proven particularly resilient in the face of the pandemic. When actor Jackie Nguyen's touring production had to close, the first-gen Vietnamese-American started Cafe Cà Phê , a mobile coffee shop serving both the classic beverage and Nguyen's creative riffs. Yoli Tortilleria brought Sonoran-style tortillas to the city — first with its own retail shop, then through several local markets and restaurants. There's also cultural news of note for 2021: after almost three years, the long-awaited renovation of the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library & Museum is finally complete, and the facility — with its new multimedia and interactive exhibits — will be ready to go once cultural institutions are allowed to reopen. And don't miss the chance to check into KC's latest arrival, the new Hotel Kansas City , which opened this fall in the 1920s building that once housed the Kansas City Club. — Sarah Bruning

21. Las Vegas

You don't go to Las Vegas seeking solitude — you go to indulge, to splash out, to revel in the nonstop energy of this shimmering, seductive oasis in the desert. A city defined by its hypnotic pool parties, around-the-clock gambling, epic nightlife scene, glitzy, over-the-top hotels, and next-level restaurants — each one trying to one up the other — just dreaming about a visit is enough to push your endorphins into overdrive. And after a year of staying still within our own four walls — the extreme antithesis of Sin City — getting back to Vegas and its many venues designed to bring crowds together will feel like the ultimate luxury. Throw in exciting new properties, like the Resorts World Las Vegas, a 3,500-room mega-resort and casino combining Hilton Hotels & Resorts , LXR , and the Conrad across 88 acres; the recently completed Circa Resort & Casino , the first adults-only casino resort with a pool amphitheater; and Virgin Hotels , set to replace the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, and well, you've hit the jackpot. — Alisha Prakash

22. Lexington, Kentucky

A handful of pilgrimage-worthy culinary and cultural developments will draw travelers to the Bluegrass State's second-largest city in 2021. It's not just The Queen's Gambit that has drummed up excitement around Lexington. After sitting empty for 20 years, Greyline Station has been newly reimagined as a 70-stall open market populated by dozens of local small businesses like North Lime Coffee and Donuts and Old North Bar, which will have a "sip and stroll'' license so visitors can enjoy a beverage while they browse. The anchor tenant — taking up just over a third of the 65,000 square feet — is Julietta Market , an open-air grocery in the vein of Seattle's Pike Place and Barcelona's La Boqueria. Elsewhere in the city will be the new Fresh Bourbon distillery from entrepreneur Sean Edwards, who grew up in Lexington and learned the craft from his grandfather and uncles. The 34,000-square-foot facility is set to be the largest Black-owned distillery in the state when it opens and will offer tours and guided tastings. Cultural sites are also furthering initiatives to tell a richer, more diverse history of Kentucky: Don't miss new walking tours of Lexington from the Faulkner Morgan Archive , an organization dedicated to preserving and chronicling the state's LGBTQ+ legacy. — Sarah Bruning

23. Lopez Island, Washington

Only the chilly saltwater splashing onto the rocky shores — and the occasional moo of the local farm animals — seem to disrupt the peaceful calm of Lopez Island. Idyllic nearly to the point of absurdity, the pace of life on these 30 acres in Puget Sound appeals to those who find serenity in the scenic route. For bicyclists, that comes in the form of the gentle, rolling roads that double as bike paths as they wind around the island. For food lovers, it means a feast of artisanal baked goods, heritage meats, and foraged foods from farm stands, markets, and restaurants. Midnight's Farm encapsulates the Lopez ethos, selling rotationally grazed grass-fed beef from little more than a cash box nailed to the side of a lean-to, hosting yoga classes in an on-site studio, and renting out the homey field house for farm stays. North Star Farms uses their own wheat to bake bagels and doughnuts from the kitchen at the Edenwild, a cozy boutique inn. And Barn Owl Bakery sells its wild sourdough alongside spreads from Ursa Minor , where chef Nick Coffey distilled the flavors of Lopez Island into world-class multi-course menus before swiftly transitioning to community-centric takeout during the pandemic. — Naomi Tomky

24. Los Angeles

Visit Los Angeles for the stress-relieving powers of sunshine and surf, stay to see two long-awaited museums finally open their doors. Renzo Piano has reimagined the 1930s May Company department store in Mid-Wilshire, where the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures will unveil its centerpiece, the last-surviving full-scale shark model from Steven Spielberg's "Jaws," when it opens in April. Other collection highlights include Judy Garland's ruby slippers from "The Wizard of Oz," items from the late Debbie Reynolds' personal collection, and memorabilia from the Star Wars and Matrix films. If all that entertainment leaves you thirsty, 2021 will be the year a craft beer scene flourishes in South L.A.'s Florence neighborhood, thanks to the soon-to-open 13,000-square-foot South Los Angeles Beverage Company, a Black-owned brewery, tasting room, cidery, and coffee roastery. Meanwhile, a spate of new hotel openings is led by the Pendry West Hollywood , the brand's first L.A. property, opening in January at the former House of Blues on the iconic Sunset Strip. In Century City, the expansive Fairmont Century Plaza will have 400 rooms and 63 luxury residences, and in Downtown L.A., the latest Proper location will feature Kelly Wearstler's eclectic design combining work from California-based artists, plus restaurants, bars, and a rooftop pool sure to be a hit with the Staples Center crowd. — Nina Ruggiero

Miami continues to prove it's much more than its blockbuster beaches and hedonist party scene. Early next year, the initial phase of the Underline , a planned 10-mile linear park below Miami's Metrorail (from the same design studio as New York's High Line ), will debut as the "Brickell Backyard" on a half-mile stretch from the Miami River to Coral Way. Expect public art, free concerts, outdoor gathering spaces, fitness activities, and lush landscapes with butterfly gardens. Cap off a visit with a bite at one of Brickell City Centre 's various new dining concepts, like the Cuban-inflected Marabu . Meanwhile, the neighborhood of Allapattah has become a fledgling arts district home to billionaire Jorge Perez' year-old museum El Espacio 23 , the Rubell Museum , and the highly-anticipated 50,000-square-foot experiential art space, Superblue , launching with three large-scale installations this spring. Throughout 2021, an overhauled CocoWalk will bring retailers, eateries, and slick architecture to quaint Coconut Grove. And when it comes time to bed down, travelers have their pick of glossy new Miami Beach hotels flaunting Art Deco design, swoon-worthy pools and exceptional food and drink. Check out souped-up iterations of the W Hotel , Mondrian , the Ritz-Carlton ; recently opened Palihouse and Kimpton's Palomar; and upcoming sure-to-be-hot spots Moxy Miami , Citizen M Citizen MCitizen M and Goodtime Hotel , the brainchild of hospitality mogul David Grutman and singer Pharrell Williams. —Nora Walsh

26. Nantucket

The charm of Nantucket is that not much changes. Luckily, the historic cobblestone downtown, the tiny rose-covered S'conset cottages, the timeless beaches — they're all still here. But as locals mark the 200th anniversary of the sinking of the Nantucket whaling ship Essex and cannibalism on the high seas, it's a perfect time to remember that even on Nantucket, some changes can be okay. This year, the iconic Century House on Cliff Road left the ranks of Nantucket's bed and breakfast lodgings to join the new Life House Nantucket . It's just the latest of the new boutique hoteliers marrying tradition with luxury in the historic downtown — check out the Greydon House and their new Venetian-inspired small plates at Via Mare. From there, grab locally sourced provisions from Proprietors Bar and Table , Company of The Caldron , or Black-Eyed Susan's , or wander to Tap Room , recently restored to the cellar of the Jared Coffin House. Out of town, Cisco Brewers is upping its game, partnering with the Levitate Music and Arts Festival to bring a schedule of big-name bands to play their festive outdoor island flagship location. After 2020, couldn't we all use some outdoor tunes, craft beer, and a few cocktails? — Charles Graeber

27. Nashville

Nashville has been an "it" city for a while, we know. But if you look past Lower Broadway — and the hoards of bachelor and bachelorette parties that roam the stretch — there's a lot more to the city than honky-tonks and country. In January, the long-awaited National Museum of African American Music will open its doors, adding a permanent home to celebrate the work of Black musicians and the evolution of gospel, blues, jazz, and hip-hop, among others. The 346-room W hotel will bring new flavor to the upscale Gulch, while legacy brands like Conrad and Four Seasons continue building out a true luxury market in Music City. Assembly Food Hall , at nearly 100,000 square feet, will bring over 24 restaurant stalls and a new music venue space overlooking the historic Ryman Auditorium downtown. And we'll all be celebrating the Dolly Parton-funded vaccine at Graduate Hotel's Dolly Parton-themed rooftop bar, White Limozeen . —Tanner Saunders

28. New Orleans

New Orleans never goes out of style , though for a moment, with 2021's Mardi Gras parade season called off due to crowd concerns, it looked as if next year would be a low point for the city. But the top krewes rallied — drumming up virtual parades and scavenger hunts, making plans to deck out houses in lieu of floats , and charging forward with fundraising efforts to support their communities — reminding us all that this beloved city's spirit is irrepressible. And while Mardi Gras may not look the same in 2021, that doesn't mean there's nothing to look forward to. This fall saw the opening of The Chloe , a 14-room hotel on St. Charles with an interior that marries old-fashioned drama and playful, pastel-colored sweetness. Still to come: Four Seasons New Orleans , a $530 million conversion of the landmarked World Trade Center building, right on the banks of the Mississippi. — Lila Battis

29. New York City

It's often said that change is the only constant in New York — the very name serves as a reminder that new is indeed its hallmark. When the pandemic hit hard this spring, the city — resilient at its core — slowly reinvented itself: Restaurants eventually set up shop curbside, performances and museums went virtual, bars began peddling to-go cocktails from modest, makeshift windows, and hotels transformed rooms into remote offices. When the city cracks its door open to travel again, it will undoubtedly be another new New York. Its fresh look will include a slew of new hotels, like the Aman New York , with a three-story spa and sweeping Central Park views; the sophisticated yet laid-back Pendry , perched in Manhattan's Hudson Yards district; and the Ritz-Carlton NoMad , a 38-floor tower touting a public garden, rooftop bar, and striking city vistas. Meanwhile, luxury hospitality group Six Senses , known for its wellness resorts in places like Bali and the Maldives, will soon bring a dose of its signature tranquility to the high-octane urban landscape, with a standout spa and calming views of the High Line and Hudson River. Restaurants, shops, and museums are poised to make a comeback, too. The only missing ingredient? You. — Alisha Prakash

30. North Carolina's Triangle

For starters, let's get one thing straight: Raleigh-Durham is an airport, not a city. But, okay, it's handy to have a catchall term for this buzzy part of the Southeast, so go with local parlance: The Triangle, shorthand for the Research Triangle, a cluster in the North Carolina Piedmont anchored by the cities of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. Even as the area saw through-the-roof growth in recent decades, leisure travelers have overlooked the Triangle in favor of N.C. getaway spots like Asheville or the Outer Banks. That's finally changing as new hotel stock has made it more inviting to linger. Boutique properties like the 53-room Durham Hotel and the tiny, stylish Guest House Raleigh have opened in the past few years, raising the bar for local accommodations and kicking off a wave of new spots with a design-forward sensibility. January 2020 saw the opening of the Longleaf Hotel , a downtown Raleigh motor lodge revamped with a fittingly midcentury-inspired aesthetic, and the sleek Origin Hotel — the upstart brand's fourth location — made its debut this summer. While you're in town, make time to explore the trails of Duke Forest or Umstead Park , wander down Durham's Main Street or Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, and hit up the many incredible restaurants in the area. Much talked-about spots like Saltbox Seafood Joint , Brewery Bhavana , and Garland — not to mention chef Ashley Christensen's stable of restaurants — live up to the hype. But don't overlook the Triangle's longstanding gems: You can't go wrong with La Farm Bakery in Cary for artisan bread and a signature white chocolate baguette, Char-Grill for unfussy burgers, or Crook's Corner in Chapel Hill for the platonic ideal of shrimp and grits. Cap it off with a visit to the downtown Raleigh Krispy Kreme right when the HOT light goes on and you're practically a native. —Lila Battis

31. Northern Minnesota

The promise of starry skies awaits in Minnesota's northern reaches, where Voyageurs National Park recently joined Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness as a certified Dark Sky destination. Clear views of the cosmos — and even the Northern Lights, if you're lucky — are only part of the fun in this water-rich region. Adventurers flock to Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness' 1.1 million rugged acres to paddle 1,200 miles of canoe-portage routes and camp under the constellations. Meanwhile, more than a third of the neighboring 218,000-acre Voyageurs National Park is a watery wonderland, making motorized houseboats a novel way to stargaze and explore the park's five main lakes and boreal and deciduous forests. Both parks offer an abundance of wildlife from aquatic birds and beavers to timber wolves and black bear; miles of scenic nature trails; and opportunities to angle walleye, northern pike, and smallmouth bass. In winter, the firmament glitters even brighter, plus there's dog sledding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling (the latter is only offered in Voyageurs National Park). Call on local outfitters to help organize year-round itineraries and stock up on necessary gear.— Nora Walsh

32. Northwest Arkansas

With the opening early last year of the Momentary , a center for arts and culture housed in a former cheese factory, the formerly sleepy town of Bentonville in northwest Arkansas continued its transformation into a hub for creativity and outdoor experiences. Last October, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art , founded by Walmart heir Alice Walton, announced that it will augment its collection with an outdoor play space that promises to harmonize with the surrounding landscape. The 21c Museum Hotel offers further art adventures, as well as the Hive , one of the region's best restaurants. Venture beyond the town to Bella Vista, where you can hit the 39 miles of mountain biking paths at the recently expanded Little Sugar Trail System, or to Springdale, home of the new J.B. and Johnelle Hunt Family Ozark Highlands Nature Center , where families can explore exhibitions, nature trails, and an archery range. — Peter Terzian

33. Oahu, Hawaii

In October, America's 50th state once again welcomed visitors from the mainland after six months of pandemic lockdown. And while many travelers opt to use the capital and most populous city, Honolulu, as a stopover to Maui, Kauai, or the Big Island, there's good reason to stay put on Oahu this year. The hotel scene continues to expand — most recently with a complete overhaul of a Waikiki classic, Queen Kapi'olani , which debuted its new look in December. Inspired by vintage Hawaiiana and local art, the 315-room resort sits across the street from legendary Waikiki Beach, and is (fittingly) home to a new surf school and shop. Over is Kaimuki — a neighborhood that's become the center of Oahu's increasingly dynamic food world — chef Chris Kajioka followed up his wildly popular (and perennially packed) Arts District restaurant, Senia, with Miro , featuring a French-inspired menu using Japanese techniques and ingredients. And for a look at the island's contemporary art, fashion, and design, head to Kaka'ako, a warehouse-filled industrial area near downtown with an ever-expanding open-air commercial compound, SALT at Our Kaka'ako to check out local creations and a weekly Saturday morning farmers market. — John Wogan

34. Omaha, Nebraska

Nebraska's largest city is hitting its stride. Omaha 's patchwork of eclectic neighborhoods (one of which is home to billionaire Warren Buffett) blends old with new in exciting ways. A shining example: The just-opened Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel , a $75 million reinvention of the iconic Blackstone Hotel, which has played host to notable dignitaries like Eleanor Roosevelt, John and Jackie Kennedy, and Richard Nixon. Special attention was paid to preserving the 105-year-old grand dame's hand-carved terra cotta columns, marble staircase, hardwood floors, and grand ballroom's vaulted ceilings. The property's 21st-century updates include five contemporary dining venues, including a modernized Orleans Room (which, in its heyday, consistently ranked as one of the nation's best restaurants), a steakhouse, and reimagined speakeasy. A host of top-notch culinary purveyors and a 70-work art collection curated by artist Watie White highlights the best of Omaha's local talent. To experience the revival playing out in the surrounding Blackstone District (birthplace of the Reuben sandwich), guests can hop in the hotel's electric tuk-tuk to cruise streets chock full of ultra-hip eateries, craft-beer bars, and trendy boutiques. Be sure to grab front-row seats to Omaha's hot-ticket events in 2021 including the buzzy Omaha Fashion Week in March, where attendees can buy looks right off the runway; the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials in June to see the nation's top athletes compete; and the annual Maha Festival , a high-caliber music and food festival happening late July. — Nora Walsh

35. Orlando

Remember roller coasters? Dole Whips? Carefree days when the most important thing was not getting vertigo on the Tower of Terror? Next year, there's no better place to live out your pent-up theme park fantasies than Walt Disney World Resort, which turns 50 in 2021. No details yet on the actual celebration, but we do know there's a huge transformation of Epcot underway, including new experiences like Remy's Ratatouille Adventure and a space-themed restaurant. Seeking an adrenaline rush (and who isn't, these days)? Hit the new Jurassic World VelociCoaster at Universal come summer, where you'll catapult upward at 70 miles per hour. Feel safe knowing Orlando was one of the first cities to develop a citywide health and safety program , with major parks going above CDC requirements. (Expect virtual kiosks and check-in at each.) And though its new south terminal won't be open until 2022, Orlando International Airport just introduced on-site COVID testing, one of the first airports in the country to do so. Helping to welcome visitors back, newcomers to Orlando's hotel scene include internationally inspired TRYP by Wyndham opened in November, Dockside Inn and Suites at Universal Orlando Resort in December, AC Hotel Orlando Downtown expected in January 2021, and the upscale Reserve tower at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort (with free shuttle service to Disney) in mid-2021. Fancy downtime away from the city? The tranquil Ritz-Carlton Orlando, Grande Lakes completes a $120 million transformation in February. —Kelsey Ogletree

36. Palm Springs, California

From the cocktails and pools to the starry night skies, the swath of desert east of L.A. never gets old. And now, a new crop of hotels, restaurants, bars, art and even sound bathing experiences are lending fresh energy to Palm Springs and its neighboring desert cities. Soak in mineral-rich waters at the just-opened Azure Palm Hot Springs , a 40-room resort and spa, in Desert Hot Springs. At the reimagined Casa Cody , rooms — 30 in total — feature fireplaces and patios, as well as colorful details such as Moroccan zellige tiles and otomi-embroidered pillows. And at year-old, 27-room Les Cactus , guests wake up to breakfast baskets with freshly baked croissants. Debuting its third installment this year, biennial art exhibition Desert X , which has quietly become a major art attraction, returns with new site-specific installations. Also opening in 2021, the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum is part 48,000-square foot museum and gardens, part bathhouse-cum-spa celebrating the history and culture of the Agua Caliente band of Cahuilla Indians. Come dinner, sample inventive rolls paired with scotch at Sandfish Sushi & Whiskey , helmed by chef Engin Onural. His latest venture is Tailor Shop, a cocktail bar drawing inspiration from faraway places including London, Norway and Hong Kong. For adventure of another kind, head to otherworldly Joshua Tree National Park nearby. The hiking, rock climbing, and stargazing do not disappoint. — Tanvi Chheda

37. Park City, Utah

With Sundance events going mostly virtual and many still wary of travel, Utah's greatest ski town is likely to take a tourism hit this winter. But once it's safe to do so, make a beeline for this outdoor paradise — before everyone else does. A series of big-deal developments in the works have Park City poised for major growth in the coming years. Mayflower Mountain Resort — a massive 6,800-acre, multi-hotel complex which creators claim would be the first new ski resort in the U.S. in 40 years — is in the works for a 2023 opening. If and when it finally debuts, it's expected to bring serious crowds, and a potential agreement with Deer Valley might mean some of the most exclusive slopes in the States (and famously, some of the last to ban snowboarding) get a little more traffic. Elsewhere in town, development for a new arts district is underway, and the forthcoming Pendry Park City is setting up shop in Canyons Village, with 152 guestrooms, a luxe spa, and the area's first rooftop pool. Until that all arrives, soak in the highlights that have made Park City so beloved: the small businesses on historic Main Street , the crowd-free powder at tony Deer Valley , and the year-round outdoor adventures to be found in the surrounding mountains. —Lila Battis

38. Rhode Island

Known for its Colonial seaside towns and Gilded Age mansions, Rhode Island is a destination steeped in history. But it's become a modern hot spot recently with the openings of several new properties. The Wayfinder Hotel in Newport, created by a group of locals, touts its anti-nautical design vibe — visit the on-site restaurant, Nomi Park, for traditional New England fare with a twist. And the past blends with the present at Providence's new hotel, the Beatrice , once the 1887 Exchange Building. Now, it's a 47-room boutique property within walking distance of the university city's buzzing downtown. And there are even options for outdoor enthusiasts thanks to the opening of the 3,500-acre Preserve Sporting Club & Residences in Richmond, from the team behind Ocean House . The one-of-a-kind wilderness retreat features an 18-hole golf course, zip line, mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking, archery, and more. The pint-size state is having such a moment, luxury travel company Black Tomato even included a stop at the Vanderbilt in Newport on a New England road trip itinerary launched as part of its curated Take the Open Road with Auberge and Black Tomato collection. Of course, the classic experiences are just as appealing: You can't leave the Ocean State without making a pilgrimage to try the epic Sunday brunch at Castle Hill Inn , overlooking Narragansett Bay. — Jordi Lippe-McGraw

39. Richmond, Virginia

One of 2020's most indelible images, and the one that best captured the changing identity of Richmond, was that of Marcus-David Peters Circle on Monument Avenue: A statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee astride a horse, its stone plinth a kaleidoscope of tags in support of Black Lives Matter. Now, with the statue's removal in the works, Richmond is looking toward a new, more inclusive future. Virginia's governor announced a proposal to allot $10 million in state funding to redesign the site, along with the stretches of Monument Avenue that once held similar tributes to Confederate figures. Another $9 million is proposed to help improve Richmond's existing Slave Trail and establish a Slavery Heritage Site. Elsewhere in the city, look for public art created this year as part of Mending Walls RVA , a project spearheaded by muralist Hamilton Glass that brings together artists from disparate backgrounds to create murals around Richmond. Newly launched nonstop flights from Florida, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles will make visiting in 2021 a breeze, and Richmond's location — within easy reach of Charlottesville, Virginia Beach, and wine country — makes it an ideal home base for a lengthier exploration of the state. —Lila Battis

40. The Rockies

Colorado's peaks have been all the more alluring in 2020 as outdoor activities became the default and the Great American Road Trip made its long-awaited comeback. But next year holds even more in store for visitors: Rocky Mountaineer , known for its impossibly scenic, glass-domed train rides through western Canada, will launch its first U.S. route in August, from the Rockies via Denver along the Colorado River to the Red Rocks in Moab, Utah. The two-day journey includes sparkling wine toasts and three-course meals served with views of canyons and cliffs, deserts and mountains. Before hopping on board, take time to visit Colorado's newest state park, Fishers Peak , opening its 30 square miles of land in phases. Marked by a 9,633-foot mountain, it's home to black bears, elk, mountain lions, and more wildlife to spot. For skiers, Aspen Snowmass will debut a high-speed chairlift, additional snowmaking for seamless shredding, and a new dining concept at High Alpine Marketplace , an offshoot of local favorite Gwyn's, serving warming dishes with fresh ingredients sourced sustainably from local farmers. At the Viceroy Snowmass , a COVID-era uptick in interest in backcountry skiing has prompted a new Uphill Thrills experience, where guests can book an excursion to Aspen's most isolated slopes and forego the lifts all together. —Nina Ruggiero

41. Santa Fe, New Mexico

A UNESCO City of Crafts and Folk Art as well as City of Design, Santa Fe is widely known as an arts mecca. Stalwart stays like the Inn at Five Graces and the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi , celebrate that status with their adobe architecture and distinctive art. But sometimes it takes a new hotel to help us see a destination with fresh eyes. The reimagined Bishop's Lodge , Santa Fe's newest luxury hotel in nearly a decade, aims to showcase far more than the city's artistic side when it opens this spring. Set on 317 acres bordering Santa Fe National Forest, the 100-room Auberge Resorts Collection property will offer fly fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and wrangler-led trail rides from its on-site stables. A restaurant helmed by Dean Fearing, the godfather of Southwestern cuisine, and a healing arts studio with therapies such as turquoise gem therapy are respites from wilderness adventures. The lodge will serve as a base for new four- and six-day cycling trips from Trek Travel, as well a new road trip itinerary from Black Tomato. Meanwhile, Marcia Gordon, the New Mexico-born co-owner of African safari specialist Extraordinary Journeys, has cast her attention back home, with custom itineraries that might include hikes in Georgia O' Keeffe's beloved Ghost Ranch or Navajo-led walks through the ruins of Chaco Canyon. — Jen Murphy

42. The Sea Islands

Running along the southeastern coast of the U.S. are the Sea Islands, a chain of over 100 tidal and barrier islands spanning from Florida to North Carolina. The marshy region is also home to the Gullah Geechee Corridor , a 12,000-square-mile National Heritage Area — the cultural homeland of the Gullah Geechee people, descendants of enslaved Africans who have preserved their traditions and language for centuries. The Sea Islands have emerged as a compelling travel destination in recent years, beginning with President Obama's 2017 move to establish a Reconstruction Era National Monument in South Carolina's Beaufort County. In 2019, a redesignation expanded the corridor, and this year brought still more attention to the region, with the new Reconstruction Era National Historic Network incorporating several sites in the area. You'd need a lifetime to fully explore the islands, but start your trip in South Carolina: Johns Island is home to Moving Star Hall, the last remaining praise house in the region, along with the Angel Oak Tree, rumored to be one of the oldest of its kind east of the Mississippi River. Visit St. Helena to see the Penn Center , one of the first schools for free Black children in America and the site where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. composed his "I Have A Dream" speech. On Georgia's largely undeveloped Cumberland Island, undisturbed views more than make up for the bare-bones facilities, while further south in St. Augustine, Florida, Fort Mose Historic State Park offers opportunities to learn about the first legally recognized free Black settlement in America. Don't leave without a stop at Gullah Grub Restaurant on St. Helena for a taste of true Gullah Geechee cuisine, a seafood- and grain-rich culinary tradition similar to the soul food developed by enslaved Africans across the American South. —Danielle Dorsey

43. Sonoma, California

In the face of back-to-back years of wildfires, Sonoma County is forging ahead to achieve a more sustainable future. As of 2019, 99 percent of the region's vineyards were certified sustainable, earning Sonoma the accolade of world's most sustainable winegrowing region. And last year, area vineyards launched a pilot program aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. With that earth-conscious ethos, it's only fitting that nature is the star of Sonoma's newest experiences. Guests at the new Montage Healdsburg, which debuted this December, will literally feel like they're living amidst the vines. Nestled among 258 acres of rolling vineyards, the resort's 130 rooms each have spacious outdoor living areas, and guests can book experiences such as yoga classes and wine tastings amid rows of Petit Verdot and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. While Montage begs indulgence at its terroir-to-table restaurant, Hazel Hill, nearby New Tree Ranch , a 120-acre biodynamic farmstead that opened last November, caters to guests in need of a reboot with plant-based menus, sound journeys, and cold water therapies. Boutique operator Bohemian Highway has launched chef-led tours of Healdsburg farms and vineyards leading the way in organic and biodynamic practices. Any DIY wine tasting tour of Healdsburg should include stops at winemaker wunderkind Jess Katz's new sustainably-minded tasting room, Aperture Cellars, and the hip new al fresco venue from winemaker Noah Dorrance's new project, Blood Root Wines . Sonoma's restaurant scene is also heating up. Star chef Michael Mina debuted his first wine country project, Wit & Wisdom , in the town of Sonoma last fall, and later this year, acclaimed chef Douglas Keane will put sleepy Geyserville on the map when he unveils Cyrus 2.0, a reinvention of his two-Michelin-star restaurant previously in Healdsburg. —Jen Murphy

44. Texas Hill Country

Just outside the capital city of Austin is the idyllic region known as the Hill Country . Comprising over 20 towns — along with plenty of lush, loping countryside — the Hill Country has an inimitable charm that those outside of the state just seem to be catching onto. Experience the best in Texas terroir by visiting Driftwood-based wineries like the renowned Fall Creek Vineyards , run one of the founding families of the Texas wine industry, and acclaimed Duchman Family Winery , which makes exceptional wines (try their award-winning Aglianico) from Italian grape varieties. Stay the weekend in one of the rustic-chic Getaway cabins, which opened in early 2020 in the quaint town of Wimberley , and stop for a dram in Dripping Springs' Distillery District, which is home to more than 25 distilleries, such as Treaty Oak Distilling and Deep Eddy Vodka . Complete your weekend road trip with a stay at the luxurious Camp Lucy , situated on 289 acres on a bluff above the famous Onion Creek. — Gabrielle Nicole Pharms

45. Tucson, Arizona

Tucson has long lived in the shadow of its higher-profile Southwestern siblings like Phoenix, Santa Fe, and Las Vegas. But this undercover desert rose has come into its own recently, as more visitors discover the saguaro-dotted city that's been a magnet for wellness enthusiasts long before the term went mainstream. Lately, new, boutique hotels have popped up, joining established spa resorts like Miraval and Canyon Ranch. These include The Tuxon — a 112-room property that takes its whimsical design cues from the region's Mexican and Native American roots — and JTH Tucson , a five-suite earth-toned escape on the edge of Saguaro National Park. And architecture buffs will appreciate projects saved by the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation, like the Ball-Paylore House, an important mid-century modern residence designed by Arthur T. Brown which became available for overnight stays last year. Meanwhile, Tucson continues to cater to outdoorsy types, and anticipation is high for the forthcoming Bike Ranch, a sustainable, 20-acre resort adjacent to Saguaro National Park that's dedicated to all aspects of cycling and mountain biking. — John Wogan

46. Tulsa, Oklahoma

Big, open green spaces like the 100-acre Gathering Place and a high quality of life — especially as measured in microbreweries and trendy restaurants — brought new crowds to the Art Deco darling of Tulsa in recent years. But Tulsa's renaissance remained incomplete without a reconciliation and recognition of the city's dark past. As much of the U.S. learned only last year, through television depictions on Lovecraft Country and Watchmen , the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921 wiped out the thriving and successful neighborhood of Greenwood, known as Black Wall Street. Approaching the 100th anniversary of the horrific attack, a new class of Black artists and entrepreneurs honors and explores that history, bringing residents and visitors to face the dark past through creative means. The Black Moon collective, Black Wall Street Gallery , and Fulton Street Books and Coffee each aim to heal and unify by centering the work and narratives of the Black community. Those narratives come in physical form in the sculptures at John Hope Franklin Reconciliation Park , near the coming Greenwood Rising center dedicated to the legacy of Black Wall Street, and site of commemoration events planned leading up to a candlelight vigil marking the anniversary. —Naomi Tomky

47. The U.S. National Parks

The National Park Service saw another banner year in 2020 — even if it was for all the wrong reasons. As the pandemic spurred interest in outdoor pursuits, Yellowstone National Park recorded the busiest September in history . Other biggies, like Joshua Tree, were bracing for huge holiday-season crowds . It should come as no surprise: Travelers also swarmed parks and nature preserves during the 1918 pandemic, according to Quartz . But record visitation and crowding at iconic spots kind of defeats the point of exploring wide-open spaces, doesn't it? Enter TCS World Travel, a luxury outfitter that coordinates private jet trips. They've just launched a private itinerary — designed for quarantine pods of four to 12 guests — that hits many of the most in-demand national parks, including Bryce Canyon, Grand Teton, and Zion, by private Citation CJ3 or Hawker 800XP jet. These fully customizable trips will have adventurers tracking wolves in Yellowstone, hiking past hoodoos in Bryce Canyon, standup paddleboarding on Lake Powell, or whatever else your crew wants to do. And while TCS can't promise you won't see another soul along the way, they can get you into some of the most exclusive hotels in the American West, including Amangani, Amangiri, and Sage Lodge. —Paul Brady

48. Washington, D.C.

The push and pull between past and present is the great drama of Washington, D.C. Once you know to look, you'll see it everywhere. The newly renamed Black Lives Matter Plaza — its great yellow block letters both immediately recognizable and extremely photogenic — abuts Lafayette Square, in front of the White House, which once was an open-air slave market. The Smithsonian Institution marks its 175th anniversary with its first national Latino gallery on the National Mall : a new exhibition space to open inside the National Museum of American History. The new Kimpton Banneker Hotel , just north of Scott Circle, is named after the city's great polymath, Benjamin, the 18th-century free black writer and astronomer who surveyed the District's boundaries. And making his debut at the National Zoo is Xiao Qi Ji ("Little Miracle"), a panda cub whose presence can be traced back to Nixon's 1972 trip to China. But the pandemic-age inauguration of a new president in January will doubtless be the city's biggest milestone — unless this is the year D.C. finally becomes a state. —Molly McArdle

49. White Sands, New Mexico

Nothing is as it seems in White Sands , the 176,000-acre swath of New Mexico desert that was first established as a national monument in 1933. From afar, the gypsum dunes —the world's largest such expanse — look as sterile and sun-scorched as the surface of a distant planet. Up close, the luxuriously cool sand teems with life. Bleached earless lizards, Apache pocket mice, and sand wolf spiders — all mostly white, to blend in with their surroundings — skitter across the dunes. At first, there's no evidence of humankind, but investigate the right spot and you'll find fossilized footprints overlaid by mammoth and giant-sloth tracks. Last year's redesignation as a national park expanded the protected region's scope by 2,030 acres, and, more importantly, increased its visibility to travelers. Researchers estimate that the change in status could contribute $7 million in spending, and 100 jobs, to the local economy. — Kieran Dahl

50. Wyoming

No one could have dreamed up a better marketing plan for Wyoming than social distancing. The country's least-populated state has only six people per square mile, meaning it's not only easy, but natural to stay safely apart. Yellowstone and Grand Teton have both seen huge spikes in visitation (credit "Yellowstone" binges), but don't overlook Wyoming's 12 state parks . A new 4-mile section was recently added to the famous Continental Divide Trail, too. Not so good with a compass? Go deeper into the park (without getting lost) with new itineraries from ToursByLocals, including a full-day adventure in Grand Teton National park, or book the new winter experience with wolves from Scott Dunn. In Casper, College National Finals Rodeo (the Rose Bowl of the sport) resumes in June after a year off, and the world's largest outdoor rodeo, Cheyenne Frontier Days , celebrates its 125th anniversary in July 2021. Hit the pancake breakfast to feel like you really belong. In south central Wyoming, the Relais & Chateaux Magee Homestead reopens to leisure travelers and relaunches its popular culinary events. And in Jackson, the first hotel on the historic town square, the 100-room Cloudveil , opens in spring with a huge rooftop terrace overlooking Snow King Mountain. —Kelsey Ogletree

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Jun 20, 2024

Indian destinations to visit in July 2024

July escapes.

India offers a range of interesting places to visit In July 2024. From lush hill stations to pretty marvels, here are 10 destinations worth exploring:

Mahabaleshwar, Maharashtra

Mahabaleshwar is known for its strawberry farms, lush green valleys, and viewpoints like Arthur's Seat and Elephant's Head Point. July is ideal for enjoying the monsoon scenery.

Jaipur, Rajasthan

When in Jaipur in July, do visit historic forts like Amber Fort and Nahargarh Fort, explore the City Palace, and shop for handicrafts in markets. July also offers relatively cooler evenings for sightseeing.

Andaman Islands

Explore the pristine beaches, coral reefs, and marine life of the Andaman Islands in July. Enjoy water activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, and boat rides amidst clear blue waters.

Coorg, Karnataka

Coorg is famed for its coffee plantations, lush greenery, and waterfalls like Abbey Falls. July brings refreshing showers, enhancing the region's natural beauty.

Shimla, Himachal Pradesh

Shimla's colonial architecture, Mall Road, and panoramic views of the surrounding hills make it a charming destination. July sees mild weather perfect for sightseeing.

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Darjeeling, west bengal.

Darjeeling is noted for its verdant tea gardens and views of the Himalayas. The hill station in West Bengal offers a cool respite in July. Ride the Darjeeling Himalayan Railway and visit Tiger Hill for sunrise views.

Munnar, Kerala

Known for its tea plantations, mist-covered hills, and pleasant climate, Munnar is a perfect getaway in July. Enjoy nature walks, visit Eravikulam National Park, and indulge in Kerala's traditional cuisine.

Manali, Himachal Pradesh

Manali is a popular hill station known for its picturesque villges, waterfalls and ancient temples. Visitors can enjoy adventure activities like trekking and paragliding, and nearby attractions such as Rohtang Pass and Solang Valley.

Ladakh makes for a perfect July escape. Visitors can experience the stunning landscapes of Ladakh, with its rugged mountains, Buddhist monasteries, and serene lakes like Pangong.

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Critic’s Notebook

Are These Really ‘the World’s 50 Best Restaurants’?

The places on this year’s “50 Best” list are endurance tests, theatrical spectacles, monuments to ego and — the two most frightening words in dining — “immersive experiences.”

An image of what appear to be eyeballs is projected on a screen behind a curved dining counter.

By Pete Wells

To be media literate these days is to understand that no ranked list, whether it is the “100 Greatest Drummers of All Time” or the “35 Cutest Dog Breeds to Ever Exist,” should be taken too literally. We all know that the cuteness of the Maltipoo and the awesomeness of Keith Moon are matters of opinion.

When it comes to parsing the annual dining survey known as The World’s 50 Best Restaurants, though, you really have to open your mind. Forget asking whether these establishments are the best in the world. The bigger question is: Are they restaurants?

Consider some of the highest-ranking winners from this year’s edition , which was announced Wednesday night in a ceremony at the Wynn Las Vegas that began with feathered and painted dancers twirling light sticks to electronic dance music on a darkened stage.

Gaggan , in Bangkok, was named not just the ninth-best restaurant in the world but the single best restaurant in Asia. The chef, Gaggan Anand, greets diners at his 14-seat table facing the kitchen with “Welcome to my … .” completing the sentence with a term, meaning a chaotic situation, that will not be appearing in The New York Times.

What follows are about two dozen dishes organized in two acts (with intermission). The menu is written in emojis. Each bite is accompanied by a long story from Mr. Anand that may or may not be true. The furrowed white orb splotched with what appears to be blood, he claims, is the brain of a rat raised in a basement feedlot.

Brains are big in other restaurants on the list. Rasmus Munk, chef of the eighth-best restaurant in the world, Alchemist , in Copenhagen, pipes a mousse of lamb brains and foie gras into a bleached lamb skull, then garnishes it with ants and roasted mealworms. Another of the 50 or so courses — the restaurant calls them “impressions”— lurks inside the cavity of a realistic, life-size model of a man’s head with the top of the cranium removed.

Now, among the 50 Best are a number of establishments where they let you see a menu written in real words and order things you actually want to eat. Some of these, like Asador Etxebarri in Spain and Schloss Schauenstein in Switzerland, are hard to reach. Nearly all are very expensive. Still, there are places on the list where a relatively normal person might eat a relatively normal dinner and go home feeling relatively well-fed.

But the list is dominated by places that normal people can’t get into, where the few diners who will go to almost any length for reservations will go home feeling bloated and drunk. They are not restaurants, or not just restaurants. They are endurance tests, theatrical spectacles, monuments to ego and — the two most frightening words in dining — “immersive experiences.”

Whether the World’s 50 Best seeks out these spectacular spectaculars or has simply been hijacked by them is impossible to tell . The list’s website is a model that should be studied by anyone who wants to arrange words that sound important and don’t mean anything.

On the subject of what it takes to win the attention of the 1,080 “independent experts” who make up the organization’s voting body, the website has this to say: “What constitutes ‘best’ is up to each voter to decide — as everyone’s tastes are different, so is everyone’s idea of what constitutes a great restaurant experience. Of course, the quality of food is going to be central, as is the service — but the style of both, the surroundings, atmosphere and indeed the price level are each more or less important for each different individual.”

Well, that clears up that .

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants and its spinoff awards, by now almost too numerous to count, weren’t always so rarefied. In the early years, when the list was being published by Restaurants magazine, the editors saw it as a kind of anti-Michelin, and took pride in recognizing spots that would never, ever make Michelin’s little red guidebooks. Carnivore, an open-air meat buffet in a suburb of Nairobi, Kenya, came in at No. 47 in 2003.

No. 1 on the list that year, though, was the Spanish restaurant El Bulli, which set a standard for kitchen experimentation, highly manipulated food, restless change and marathon tastings to which the highest end of the business is still in thrall. The more famous the list became, the harder it was for a place like Carnivore to land a spot. Nobody much noticed, because the game that El Bulli played was starting to become the only one that mattered.

Today the list is dominated by tasting-menu restaurants, and every year those menus seem to get longer and more unforgiving. There are more courses than any rational person would choose to eat, and more tastes of more wines than anyone can possibly remember the next day. The spiraling, metastasizing length of these meals seems designed to convince you that there’s just no way a mere 10 or 15 courses could contain all the genius in the kitchen.

One well-traveled diner told me about a recent, four-hour meal at Disfrutar , in Barcelona — No. 1 this year. He said he was “blown away” and at the same time he never wants to go back. “It was an assault, and not fun,” he said.

Visits to the kitchen and other locations around the property, once an entertaining surprise, are now almost mandatory in any restaurant that aspires to a place on the list. The formula for success is so well-known that the structure of a meal in these restaurants is weirdly, depressingly conformist, even though you’re supposed to be amazed by the originality of it all. Once a revolt against stuffy, conservative dining hierarchies, the World’s 50 Best Restaurants now rewards a different kind of stuffiness and conservatism.

The contradiction at the core of the list is that it has become a publicity machine that directs enormous amounts of attention and business toward some of the least-accessible dining rooms in the world.

The chefs may fool themselves into believing that they’re operating idea factories, that they’re offering intellectual journeys and emotional wallops. But they’re really just competing for votes on a listicle that will reduce whatever they achieve in the dining room to strings of clichés on the World’s 50 Best Website. Table by Bruno Verjus , this year’s third-best restaurant, offers “stunning wine and incredible food.” A meal at Disfrutar is “the dining experience of a lifetime.”

That sounds stunning! And incredible! You know, though, the thing I’m wondering about this experience of a lifetime is whether I’m going to have a good time. But that’s not a question the World’s 50 Best Restaurants is set up to answer.

Follow New York Times Cooking on Instagram , Facebook , YouTube , TikTok and Pinterest . Get regular updates from New York Times Cooking, with recipe suggestions, cooking tips and shopping advice .

Pete Wells has been the restaurant critic for The Times since 2012. He was previously the editor of the Food section. More about Pete Wells

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