Celebrating the new year with some travel inspiration
The new year brings with it a clean slate. Forget your worries of last year and get a fresh start in 2017. Be who you want and do what you want, allowing your travels to inspire you.
Whether you’re the type to rack up a laundry list of resolutions or not, going on more adventures ought to be a priority this year. Now’s the time to start saving up your PTO and planning your trips, so we’re bringing you some of the best places to travel in 2017. In no particular order, our 17 picks include artsy spots, history meccas, and nature oases that will make 2017 your best year yet. These buzz-worthy sites may never have appeared on your travel list before, but each brings something special to the plate. Dive into our top 2017 travel destinations in the U.S. and see how many you can cross off before 2018 rolls around.
The appeal: An adult playground, Atlantic City offers a ritzy retreat on the shores of the East Coast. Stay: At the Chelsea, you have access to a Vegas-style beach club, saltwater pool, spa, and the seaside.
Do: Climb up the 1857 Absecon Lighthouse. The third largest lighthouse in the country, it stands at an impressive 171 feet tall.
Play: At the Steel Pier, where 25 rides send you spinning, twirling, and soaring over the Atlantic Ocean. With the added joys of an arcade and boardwalk food, you’ll feel like a kid again.
Eat: The shareable Asian plates at Buddakan. Load up on mushroom potstickers, shrimp lo mein, and wok cashew chicken for a meal your taste buds won’t forget.
The appeal: Charlottesville is a hip, sophisticated college town, filled with history and framed by the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains.
Stay: Oakhurst Inn is a boutique hotel, located steps from the University of Virginia campus.
Do: Visit Monticello, the famous home of Thomas Jefferson. Once you get your history fill, sip on some locally crafted coffee and explore the boutiques and eateries at the Historic Downtown Mall.
Play: Join one of the Cville Tours for a slice of Virginia charm—horseback ride through a vineyard with wine tasting or take a hot air balloon ride over the countryside.
Eat: Wash down a plate of fresh oysters with some VA craft beer at Public Fish and Oyster’s raw bar.
The appeal: The fresh seafood from right off the shore is enough to make you start to salivate—don’t leave town without sampling some wild-caught lobster.
Stay: Vanderbilt Grace is a vintage 1909 mansion-turned hotel with two on-site restaurants, indoor and outdoor pools, and an inviting spa.
Do: Fort Adams. Learn about the original military fort from the War of 1812, and its replacement that stood as an Army post from the Mexican-American War all the way through World War II.
Play: Slurp your way through the annual Newport Waterfront Oyster Festival in May, and taste the “Harvest of the Sea” at Bowen’s Wharf 27th Annual Seafood Festival this October.
Eat:Chilled lobster, clam chowder, and seafood pot pie at The Mooring. Pair it with a glass of wine and a window seat overlooking Narragansett Bay.
The appeal: Steeped in history, San Antonio has a strong sense of community and culture that welcomes you with open arms.
Stay: At La Cantera Resort & Spa, the view of Texas Hill Country alone is enough to make reservations.
Do: Mosey along the art galleries and restaurants of La Villita Historic Arts Village, which is connected to the San Antonio River Walk. After gallivanting along the water, venture over to the Missions of San Antonio for some history lessons.
Play: If you’re in town in April, you’ll be sorry if you miss the Fiesta San Antonio. Commemorating the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto, this multi-day celebration features parades, block parties, and even a charrería (a rodeo-like event).
Eat: A multi-course meal at the Mixtli. This progressive restaurant offers an intimate setting with diverse dishes from all over Mexico.
Photo via Yelp/Chris S.
The appeal: During this year’s August 21 total solar eclipse, St. Joseph promises a prime seat to the show. From here, you’ll see 2 minutes and 38 seconds of totality—just one second short of the maximum viewing time!
Stay: Whiskey Mansion Inn originally dates back to 1885. The historical building has since been restored to a charming B&B with period furniture and decor.
Do: Witness the view from on top of Houston Wyeth Hill. Perched in the Missouri River bluffs, it’s the ultimate spot to watch the sun set. Play: Explore all four St. Joseph Museums and then get some fresh air at the gardens in nearby Krug Park.
Eat: Dinner at JC Wyatt House Home. With first-course choices such as roasted salmon with Moroccan couscous, you won’t regret it.
Photo via Yelp/Monmouth H.
The appeal: This city celebrated its 300th anniversary in 2016. Take a step back in time and hear stories of Natchez’ lengthy past.
Stay: Monmouth Historic Inn & Gardens, an elaborate 19th-century antebellum mansion, exudes all charm.
Do: Follow the Natchez Trails through downtown and the edge of the Mississippi River, and don’t miss the 1800 working cotton plantation at Frogmore. See how the cotton picking industry has changed over the last 200 years, from steam gins to computerized operations.
Play: Discover the exhibits at the Museum of African-American History & Culture. Tour the home of Richard Wright and get to know some of country’s most influential African Americans and their contributions.
Eat: The tamales, chili, and Knock-You-Naked Margaritas at Fat Mama’s Tamales.
Photo via Yelp/1620 Winery
The appeal: This town may have been the site of the first Pilgrim settlement, but it’s come a long way since its colonial roots. Stay: Above the Bay at Thornton Adams, a seaside B&B located just a mile from downtown Plymouth.
Do: Experience the quintessential New England charm at the waterfront shops and restaurants along Village Landing Marketplace. Afterwards, head down to Ellisville Harbor State Park for an afternoon of bird watching and beach combing.
Play: Plimouth Plantation, where you’ll witness the early days for yourself. Between the 17th-century English village and the Wampanoag Homesite, you’ll walk away with a deeper understanding of the region’s past.
Eat: A meat and cheese board, paired with some local vino, at 1620 Wine Bar. Sip and swirl while overlooking the scenic Historic Plymouth Waterfront.
The appeal: Nature meets nurture in this rustic city, where the Rocky Mountains merge with the Great Plains.
Stay: Hotel Boulderado. You’ll feel utterly spoiled with the luxurious Victorian-inspired rooms at this historical boutique hotel.
Do: Ramble around the shops and eateries in Downtown Boulder’s West End. Between the locavore-focused fare and the antique jewelry, you could lose yourself on this strip for hours.
Play: Saddle up on a rented bike from University Bicycles and cruise Boulder Creek Path to Boulder Canyon. For more of nature’s beauty, rock climb, snow shoe, or hike your way through the majesty of Eldorado Canyon.
Eat: The Front Range cuisine at Black Cat. Straight from the farm, this eatery serves meals that are curated from the day’s harvest.
The appeal: Tucked in the Willamette Valley, Eugene has that hippy, outdoorsy vibe, but it’s got a city scene, too, with breweries to boot.
Stay: In one of the 14 dazzling rooms at Excelsior Bed and Breakfast Inn. The inn serves fresh produce straight from their very own farm.
Do: Behold Skinner Butte Park. Located along Willamette River, it’s one of the city’s oldest parks. Afterwards, marvel at the winged ones at Cascades Raptor Center.
Play: The McKenzie River National Recreation Trail, where you can explore an old lava flow and romp around under the conifer trees.
Eat: Some steak and ale stew and a local brew at North Bank Pub. Grab a seat by the window and watch the boats float down the river.
Photo via Flickr/Deb Nystrom
The appeal: Page is the place where you’ll fill your Instagram feed with ridiculously good-looking scenery. With natural wonders left and right, you can forget about adding filters to your photos.
Stay: Get some shut eye at the Quality Inn and wake up to an excellent breakfast spread, free of charge.
Do: Search for the beam of light shining through the Upper Antelope Canyon, and then venture to the depths of Lower Antelope Canyon, which usually sees less foot traffic.
Play: The lookout spot above the majestic Horseshoe Bend, where the Colorado River naturally creates a dramatic U shape.
Eat: The Rivers End Café’s southwest chipotle chicken panini with a black and white chocolate mocha latte.
The appeal: As one of the nation’s oldest, this Connecticut city has some stories to tell. Learn about the past and if you’re feeling brave, discover Hartford’s paranormal side at the Old State House.
Stay: The Residence Inn Marriott, where you can make yourself at home in one of the spacious suites in the thick of downtown Hartford.
Do: Get a glimpse of the city’s pristine parks. Begin your adventures at Bushnell Park, and then pop over to Pope Park and the green gardens of Elizabeth Park.
Play: The Mark Twain House and Museum, which opens the doors to the world of the famous author. Afterward, continue your literary journey at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center.
Eat: Fish & chips and a pint of the beer brewed on site at City Steam Brewery.
The appeal: This coastal city boasts 60 miles of beach with enough family-friendly attractions to keep your clan from ever getting bored.
Stay:The beachside resort, Captain’s Quarters, has lazy rivers, bowling lanes, and even a children’s waterpark.
Do: View the shoreline from nearly 200 feet in the sky. The Myrtle Beach SkyWheel whisks you up into the clouds in the comfort of a glass gondola.
Play: Family Kingdom, where you can brave all 38 rides, from the Swamp Fox wooden roller coaster to the wild Log Flume.
Eat: Half o’ roasted cackler and cob o’ buttery at the Pirates Voyage Dinner Show. Chow down on some pirate grub and watch as Captain Blackbeard and Calico Jack fight for treasure before your eyes.
The appeal: St. George is conveniently located near Zion National Park, but the city itself is certainly easy on the eyes. Admire the desert scenery and the glorious mountain backdrops.
Stay: The Inn on the Cliffs, where you can admire the magical Utah scenery from your own private balcony.
Do:Cast a line and soak in the red rock desert scenery at Quail Creek State Park.
Play: Eye guzzle real Jurassic tracks and fossils at the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site at Johnson Farm.
Eat: The Painted Pony Restaurant’s rosemary spiked ribeye and white chocolate cheesecake tower. There’s no corkage fee on Mondays, so bring in a bottle of your favorite Utah-purchased wine.
Photo via Yelp/Iaraine g.
The appeal: The redwoods meet the California coastline in Mendocino County. Step out in nature and breathe in that fresh seaside air.
Stay: The coastal bluffs at Agate Cove Inn. Eat breakfast with a view of the Pacific Ocean, while searching the horizon for migrating whales.
Do: Hunt down the famous blowhole at Russian Gulch State Park. While you’re at it, hike to the waterfall and explore the tide pools.
Play: Climb aboard the 131-year-old Skunk Train to cruise the “Redwood Route,” whizzing through the forest and along the Cali shoreline.
Eat: Miso-ginger grilled prawns and house-made shellfish fettuccine at Trillium, a Victorian treasure overlooking Big River Bay.
The appeal: Columbus is quickly becoming a beacon for artists all around. With solo exhibitions, street performers, and theater productions, Columbus’ art scene is grabbing everyone’s attention.
Stay: Book a room at the Hilton Columbus Downtown, where you can roam an impressive gallery showcasing striking works by more than 100 local artists.
Do: Tap into your creative side as you explore the galleries, vintage shops, and performances at Short North Arts District.
Play: The Columbus Arts Festival along the riverfront. From June 9 to 11, the riverside will come to life with music, spoken word, theater, art exhibits, and much more.
Eat: The famous Original Pancake Balls at Katalina’s, which are whipped up in a 100-year-old gas station.
The appeal: Taos invites you to slow down and recharge. With its incredible scenery, thriving art scene, and preservation of history, you’ll leave town feeling inspired.
Stay: Relish the southwestern vibes at the Dreamcatcher Bed and Breakfast, which has seven rooms showing off the region’s unique style.
Do: Immerse yourself in the Native American culture at the Taos Pueblo, where you’ll learn about the community’s past and present.
Play: Get a dose of the great outdoors at Taos Ski Valley. Regardless of the season, this alpine retreat offers all kinds of activities and nature excursions.
Eat: “La Comida de las Sierras,” or the food of the mountains at El Meze Restaurant, a tapas-style eatery serving dishes with Moorish and Spanish touches.
The appeal: Home to more than 10 local breweries, this Michigan city is earning a name for itself on the craft brew scene.
Stay: A place that looks like a life-sized doll house, The Kalamazoo House Bed & Breakfast offers a fairytale setting in a restored 1878 Victorian home.
Do: Take a tour of Bell’s Brewery, one of the oldest craft breweries east of Colorado. Spend the afternoon sipping the Kalamazoo Stout and Oatsmobile Ale.
Play: Trek some of the 13 trails at Kalamazoo Nature Center, where you can romp along the prairie and forest terrain.
Eat: Start your day off the right way with an order of the Five Alarm Omelet and fresh brewed coffee at Studio Grill, a local favorite.
What are some other places you should visit in 2017?