Wondering where to go in 2021? Assuming it’s safe to travel again, here are some of the best places to visit, whether you’re traveling solo, with your family or if you’re escaping with your partner. Included are budget friendly destinations and beautiful places to visit that are worth the splurge.
When the calendar flips, I start researching travel ideas for the new year. It’s how I survive winter. You can really get lost in your daydreams. Mine are always of popular streets, like the Champs-Elysees, with no tourists on them! If you’re looking for some place new, here are a few of my favorite destinations from past trips, in the US and abroad, to get you dreaming and planning.
1. Bucket List Trip: South Africa
My husband and I celebrated a milestone anniversary and took an over the top bucket list trip to Africa. We journeyed from Pretoria to Cape Town on the elegant Rovos Rail, hiked along the Zimbabwe side of Victoria Falls, and spent an amazing 4 days on safari in Kruger National Park.
Travel Tip: I never use a travel agent but I did for this vacation because the logistics were overwhelming – the thought of a 15-hour flight and a malaria protocol terrified me. I needed someone to hold my hand.
2. Girls’ Getaway: South Beach in Miami
Girls just wanna have fun and there’s no better place to do it than South Beach, Miami. I headed to the Sunshine State for a sisters’ getaway. We checked out the famous Art Deco architecture and did some people-watching, ate more than our fair share of Cuban cuisine, and visited the murals in Miami’s Wynwood neighborhood.
Travel Tip: It’s really noisy really late on Ocean Drive because the clubs try to out blast each other. For a good night’s sleep, book a hotel a block or two from the Drive. I enjoyed my stay at the Blue Moon Hotel on Collins Avenue.
3. Take a Tour: Brooklyn
I took advantage of a surprisingly warm March Saturday to tour Bushwick Brooklyn with my daughter. Jessica Festa conducts Bushwick #Instawalks; we worked a bit on technique, sampled some ham, beer, and chocolate (an unholy trinity to be sure), and learned about this interesting, diverse and on the brink of booming Brooklyn neighborhood.
4. Looking for Romance? St. Barth
Sometimes you just gotta beach it. The hubby and I head to St. Barth for our annual veg, nap, read, nap, eat, nap, swim, nap restorative respite.
Travel Tip: Visiting the Caribbean in winter is expensive. We go during the transition from high season to low in mid-April; both villa rental rates and airfare are substantially discounted. The exception is when Easter is in April.
5. Mother/Daughter Trip: Montauk, NY
Beaches are a quick drive away from my home in NY’s Hudson River Valley, so it was easy to take a mother-daughter getaway to Montauk, NY. Pedicures, walks along the shore, and a sailing lesson were part of the fun. Oh. And there were lobster rolls. Many, many lobster rolls.
Travel Tip: Long Island traffic can be brutal. Time your driving to avoid morning and evening rush hours.
6. Gather the Family: Tybee Island, Georgia
My extended clan gathered for a family reunion on Tybee Island off the coast of Georgia. We rented several houses, ate our collective weight in shrimp, and told very silly “remember when” stories late into the night. Congratulations to the crafters (not me) who fashioned our beautiful tie-dye uniforms. Yes. They’re handmade.
7. Dial up the Charm: Aurora, NY
I love to discover places that I can’t wait to return to and Aurora, located in New York’s Finger Lakes region, is one of them. It’s a charming little village with picture-perfect boutique inns that’s close to a number of wineries. It’s an ideal destination for a girlfriend getaway.
Travel Tip: Detour through Ithaca, NY, and visit FOUND in Ithaca, a multi-dealer antiques store. Pick up a vintage bedazzled clutch or straw handbag for your weekend adventure. Their prices are excellent.
8. Art and Cheesesteaks? Visit Philly!
Hit the Jersey turnpike and head out for a fun weekend in Philadelphia. Instead of hitting the historical sights, check out the Museum District and run up the Rocky steps. Just once. Whew!
We had a cool brush with fame on a trip to Philly when we ran into legendary Eagles QB Ron “Jaws” Jaworski, who owns several golf clubs near the city.
Travel Tip: Philadelphia’s famous for cheesesteaks, but if you’d like something more upscale, make a dinner reservation at Butcher & Singer. The steakhouse has great food, attentive service, and a grand interior with soaring ceilings, chandeliers, and intimate banquettes. It’s very Mad Men.
9. North of the Border in Quebec City
I hadn’t visited Quebec City since I was a child. I’d heard the raves of friends and relatives and read incredible endorsements in the press. When the opportunity arose to escape for a weekend yoga/photography retreat in a nun’s monastery, I didn’t hesitate. And I’m happy to report that everything you’ve heard is true.
Quebec City is very European in feel. It’s got steep streets to scale on foot and a charming funicular to ride when your legs scream “Pas plus!” I needed the exercise though after eating heaping servings of poutine, a provincial dish consisting of french fries slathered in gravy and cheese.
10. Historic Saratoga Springs, NY
Visit Saratoga in the off season, after the summer horse racing season ends. Yes. You’ll miss the action at the historic track, but you’ll get a chance to explore the quaint village without the crowds.
Check out the Saratoga Spa State Park nature trails and don’t miss the delicious fried chicken at Hattie’s.
11. Autumn in Grand Rapids, Michigan
“What’s in Grand Rapids?” was the reaction I received when I mentioned to anyone that I was heading to Michigan in November. I sort of felt the same way. But it was love at first sight and sip. Grand Rapids is a friendly city with a vibrant craft beer scene and one of the most popular sculpture gardens in the world, the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. It’s particularly gorgeous in the fall.
12. New York City During the Holidays
It never feels like Christmas until I head downtown and get throttled by the crowds packed in and around Rockefeller Center. Wander all over Manhattan (you can log an extraordinary number of Fitbit steps!), explore the Union Square Christmas market and appreciate the store windows and tasteful brownstone decorations.