The first weeks of a new year are always exciting as we settle into our regular routines after the holidays, make goals for the new year, and reflect upon the year that’s passed. One of our favorite parts of these rituals is making plans on where to travel in the upcoming year. We’ve got you covered with five amazing international spots as well as five domestic locales that top our list.
Top Domestic Picks:
San Diego, California
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Los Angeles is often the first city we think of in Southern California, but San Diego definitely holds its own when it comes to an ideal, sunny vacation on the west coast. Year round good weather, amazing beaches and water activities, and a great food scene make this city an easy pick for 2016.
Be sure to stop into Balboa Park, the immensely large and beautiful park in the city, and La Jolla Cove for a bit of untouched, natural beauty. For more ideas, check our San Diego story here.
Though there are many stereotypes about Miami, there’s a lot more to this Florida city beyond South Beach (and the horrible traffic). We love the truly international vibe of this city—you’ll find people from just about all walks of life here. For an ideal trip, be sure to hit the beaches but save a few days to explore the other parts of what make this city great.
Explore Little Havana for a slice of Cuba right in Miami or head to the Wynwood Arts District, home to incredible galleries and street art.
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Philadelphia is known as a city steeped in history, with significant cultural and historic sites at nearly every turn. This history has recently landed the city on the highly respected UNESCO World Heritage Cities list making it a great spot to visit this year. Independence Hall, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Barnes Collection, the Magic Gardens, and the Liberty Bell are all must-see cultural sites to add to your list.
Expand upon your trip by stopping into one of the many incredible restaurants that have cropped up all over the city. The Reading Terminal Market is a great spot that’s home to dozens of food vendors serving up a variety of eats. For sit-down dining options, Serpico and Helm are both good bets.
Denver is an ideal spot for laid-back, relaxed travelers looking for a little bit of everything. Scenic hiking and camping are just a few miles away, one of the largest concentrations of brewery tours anywhere in the country, and a booming restaurant scene will keep you plenty busy. If you happen to travel during colder months, head up to the slopes for a day of skiing in the mountains.
And don’t forget—Denver and its neighboring cities are not just for winter sports. Be on the lookout for amazing kayaking and boating opportunities and if you’re there during football season, head to a Denver Broncos game. If sports aren’t your cup of tea, drive up to Longmont, CO to visit the Oskar Blue’s brewery where famous brews like Dale’s Pale Ale are crafted to perfection. No matter your preferences, there is something for everyone in the Mile-High City.
Yellowstone National Park
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2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service so what better way to commemorate their service than to visit one of the most spectacular national parks in the country? Yellowstone National Park offers something to everyone, even if you don’t consider yourself to be the “outdoorsy type.”
If you are adventurous, set up tent at the one of the many campsites around the park. You can also opt for a luxury cabin rental if you don’t love the idea of living in a tent. Be sure to make a day trip out to Old Faithful to watch the iconic geyser erupt before your eyes.
Top International Picks:
By now you’ve probably heard that with diplomatic relations restored between the United States and Cuba, Americans can now legally travel to Cuba. That said, it will still take a bit of research and legwork on your part, but if you’re up for it, a visit is more than worth it. Since tourism from the U.S. has been restricted for so long, there are a number of incredible spots still untarnished by hoards of tourists so it’s a great spot to visit if you’re looking for something off the beaten path.
In order to visit, your trip must fall under the 12 allowable travel categories (such as educational activities or humanitarian pursuits). But if you have extra cash to spare and don’t want to worry about how to categorize your trip, several tour operators are there to help plan your trip and ensure it falls within legal parameters.
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Skip the crowded beaches of Cancun, Mexico, and head just south to the coast of Belize for an entirely different type of beach vacation. Though Placencia is a small coastal village, you’ll find lots to do between the water activities, nearby Mayan temples, and sampling local cuisine. The beaches are breathtaking and because Belize is home to the second largest barrier reef in the world, snorkelers and divers will find lots to explore.
While there are other more traveled beach spots in the region, Placencia allows for total relaxation. There are a number of resorts in the area housing modern amenities so you won’t have to scrimp on comfort at all.
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Though it’s not the closest destination to head to for most of the U.S., a trip to Sydney will certainly be a memorable one. It’s a great city for food lovers as there are an enormous number of hip wine bars and cafés cropping up at every corner. Fine dining options such as Nel or more laid back food markets like the Rocks Friday Foodies market exist as well.
While in town, be sure to take a trip to Bondi Beach, just a short distance away from Sydney. There you can take surf lessons, walk along the coast, or visit the iconic Bondi Beach Icebergs.
Quebec City, Canada
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For a taste of Europe without a transatlantic flight, head to Quebec City, Canada for your Euro fix. While there, be sure that a visit to Old Quebec is at the top of your list. This part of town is home to a number of historic sites, as well as some seriously impressive architecture that will transport you to a different time entirely.
When planning a visit, it’s typically best to go during the summer months (June-September), especially if you want to avoid freezing temperatures. But if you don’t mind the cold, winters are beautiful and there are often festivals and events underway.
Skip the larger capital of Stockholm and head to Gothenburg, Sweden for a somewhat different but equally delightful experience. Like most of Scandinavia, Gothenburg is home to fantastic design and architecture. The city is known for its beautiful canals and incredible food (including a number of Michelin starred restaurants).
More and more people are traveling to Gothenburg and to the western part of Sweden—for very good reason.