These exciting vacation ideas will have you packing your bags in no time. Amid the surge in “revenge travel” following…
These exciting vacation ideas will have you packing your bags in no time.
Amid the surge in “revenge travel” following the lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2023 is predicted to be another exciting and busy year for travel. Searches for international and domestic flights alike are up this year compared to 2022, according to data from Kayak.com, and Expedia’s annual Travel Trends Report is calling 2023 the Year of No Normal.
Many travelers who went on bucket list trips last year see 2023 as an opportunity for more relaxed vacations, and some are spending less money on ultra-luxe hotels to visit more cultural centers around the world. Interest in solo travel and exploring closer to home in the U.S. has also increased.
No matter what your travel goals are in 2023, this list has got you covered. U.S. News compiled 30 vacation ideas to keep you close to home or jet you away to far-flung places. These options span destinations perfect for couples vacations, family trips or getaways with friends; solo travelers will also find itineraries they’ll feel comfortable doing on their own.
From chasing the northern lights in Europe and exploring eco-resorts in Central America to horseback riding in the American West and adventures on the high seas, there’s something to please everyone, including your BFF (best furry friend). Here are the top vacation ideas for every type of traveler in 2023.
Sip, cook and dine your way through Europe on a culinary tour
If you’re dreaming of a vacation that includes feasting on a bowl of handmade pasta and sipping a glass of Chianti Classico while overlooking the vineyards in Tuscany, then consider booking a group culinary tour in Italy. EF Go Ahead Tours offers a selection of culinary tours in Europe and other destinations, including an 11-day itinerary through towns in Umbria and Tuscany that begins in Florence and ends in Rome. The company also partners with America’s Test Kitchen on a food and wine journey through the Tuscany and Piedmont regions in Italy, which includes a visit to the Alba White Truffle Fair. If you prefer tapas or pintxos served with Rioja, sign up for the EF Go Ahead and ATK tour to Spain. There’s also a new itinerary in Portugal in partnership with ATK.
Attend the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
If you’re in the mood for a trip to New Orleans but can’t make it in time for the festivities of Mardi Gras, plan to visit in the spring of 2023 — April 28 through May 7 — when the city hosts its renowned jazz festival. The first jazz festival took place in April 1970 with famed artists like Duke Ellington, Fats Domino and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band; today, the event continues its heritage as a celebration of the city’s rich culture, music and art. The 2023 festival will feature top performers like Lizzo, Ed Sheeran, Santana, Ne-Yo and Melissa Etheridge. While in town for the festivities, be sure to try New Orleans’ renowned Creole and Cajun cuisine. And don’t miss the delectable beignets and steaming cafe du lait at the original Café du Monde in the French Market.
Chase the northern lights in Iceland
The Land of Fire and Ice is one of the best places on Earth to see the aurora borealis dance across the night sky. According to predictions based on the 11-year solar cycle, 2023 is an excellent year to view the spectacular show, with greater activity and more prominent displays of the phenomenon expected. While November to February offer the darkest skies, winter storms can affect visibility. With better weather forecasts, March and September are typically the peak months to see the lights. If you’re staying in Reykjavik, you’ll want to head outside the city and away from the light pollution for the best viewing opportunities. For a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, reserve a spot on a guided eight-day northern lights tour that covers the Ring Road of Iceland. The tour includes stops in the country’s picturesque coastal villages, hiking on a glacier, spectacular waterfall views and countless photo opportunities.
Raft down the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon
For a different perspective of the Grand Canyon, consider booking an extended rafting adventure along the Colorado River. Full canyon tours, which travel the lower and upper parts of the Grand Canyon, can last up to 16 days and cover as many as 280 river miles, depending on the outfitter. Outdoor adventurers will appreciate the thrills of the whitewater rapids, the chance to sleep under the stars, and day hikes that afford rim views of the canyon and river. Some tours require hiking in or out, while others offer transportation to the start and end points of the trip. Rafting season runs between April and October, but spring and fall offer cooler temperatures. Canyon Explorations, Wilderness River Adventures and Advantage Grand Canyon are a few outfitters that offer these trips.
A Galápagos expedition with Adventures by Disney
Adventure-seeking families with children ages 7 and older will have a vacation of a lifetime on an expedition cruise in the Galápagos archipelago. Adventures by Disney offers nine-day itineraries led by experienced naturalists on board the 100-passenger boutique ship Galapagos Legend. The highlights of the experience are the unforgettable wildlife encounters on land and in the ocean with sea lions, spotted eagle rays, penguins, marine iguanas, the giant Galápagos tortoises, white-tipped reef sharks, frigatebirds and blue-footed boobies. On the ship, Junior Adventurers will enjoy pizza and dance parties, stargazing on the equator, Disney movie nights and more.
A golf and sporting getaway in Georgia
The picturesque lakeside resort at The Ritz-Carlton Reynolds, Lake Oconee sits about 85 miles east of Atlanta. This vacation destination property in Georgia features five championship golf courses and the 100-acre Sandy Creek Sporting Grounds, designed by international shooting champion Justin Jones of Great Britain. In addition to the sporting clays course, Sandy Creek also offers fishing, archery, kayaking, canoeing and off-roading. The recently reimagined hotel also has a new Ritz Kids Clubhouse for children ages 5 to 12 and a new family pool. In addition, Georgia’s Restaurant is slated to reopen in spring 2023 with an exciting Italian and bar concept featuring alfresco dining amid beautiful lake views. Best of all, the property is pet-friendly so your pup can enjoy the picturesque setting with you.
Sip wine in Arizona’s Verde Valley
The Verde Valley American Viticultural Area in central Arizona sits about 100 miles north of Phoenix and encompasses the famed red rocks in Sedona. Plan to spend several days in the eclectic town of Cottonwood, at the heart of the region’s wine country. From here, you can check out the tasting rooms in the Old Town and visit nearby wineries on the wine trail in Jerome, Cornville and the surrounding area. For accommodations in Cottonwood, The Tavern Hotel is ideally situated just a block off Main Street, so you can walk to the tasting rooms, restaurants and shops. While in town, visit the new location for Maynard James Keenan’s Four Eight Wineworks, where you can sample the wines accompanied by small plates and bites.
An adults-only getaway to Key West, Florida
Plan a getaway to the “Southernmost City in the U.S.” — Key West, Florida — for a little slice of paradise and grown-up fun in the sun. This small island is an angler’s dream, offering some of the best sport fishing in the world. Underwater exploration is another not-to-be-missed activity with top-notch spots for wreck diving and snorkeling like the 10-mile reef system at Sand Key Lighthouse Reef. You’ll never go hungry or thirsty in town with the more than 240 restaurants and bars — many of which serve freshly caught local seafood like grouper, snapper or tuna. Plan to stay in the Old Town at Santa Maria Suites, an upscale all-suite resort close to the ocean, beach and lively Duval Street.
Fly-fishing in Wyoming
Late spring and early summer bring some of the most scenic fly fishing in the U.S. to Jackson Hole, especially along the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park. First-timers and expert anglers alike will also want to check out the excellent fishing opportunities on the lakes and rivers in nearby Yellowstone National Park. Mid-May to late June is the optimal time to fish before it gets too hot in July and August. For the best experience and ease in obtaining the proper licenses and gear, consider hiring an experienced local guide and outfitter like Jackson Hole Fly Fishing School, Jackson Hole Anglers or Reel Deal Anglers. Then you’ll be set up and ready to hook a prized cutthroat, brown or lake trout out on the water.
Family fun in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Myrtle Beach is the perfect family vacation spot with many kid-friendly activities like mini-golf, trampoline parks, Ripley’s Aquarium and zip lining. Broadway Grand Prix is another top pick to entertain the kids with go-kart tracks, bumper cars, a rock climbing wall and more. After days spent enjoying the rides, exploring the local state parks, or playing in the sand and surf along the beach, take the kids for a fun-filled evening at Pirates Voyage Dinner & Show. For accommodations, you’ll find many budget-friendly hotels and resorts in Myrtle Beach. There are also properties like North Beach Resort & Villas that feature oceanfront condominiums and private villas.
Sail on a country-intensive voyage with Azamara
Upmarket cruise line Azamara offers country-intensive and culturally immersive voyages in destinations such as Croatia, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Ireland, South Africa and more. If you’re a cruiser that prefers to focus on one country — and you’d like the opportunity to stay later or even overnight in port — then consider a country-intensive voyage on one of the line’s smaller boutique ships. Azamara’s four ships — Azamara Onward, Pursuit, Quest and Journey — carry just about 700 passengers. With a smaller ship, you’ll also be able to enter “hidden gem” ports around the world. On the line’s eight-night Greece Intensive Voyage, the ship departs Athens for Istanbul with stops in six Greek islands, including Crete, Santorini, Rhodes and Mykonos. There are also full days in port with only one departure at 5 p.m. and two evenings with a 10 p.m. departure.
Escape to an all-inclusive resort in Turks & Caicos
Beaches Turks & Caicos is an excellent choice for an all-inclusive family vacation in the Caribbean. This impressive resort in Providenciales boasts a 12-mile-long stretch of powdery white beach on Grace Bay, five uniquely designed villages, 21 restaurants, 10 pools and a 45,000-square-foot water park. Best of all, most land activities, water sports, entertainment and programs for the kids are included in the price, along with all meals and beverages.
Take a bucket list trip to French Polynesia
One of the top destinations for LGBTQ travelers is Bora Bora in French Polynesia due to the generally welcoming culture and acceptance of same-sex couples and gay families. For a special celebration or romantic getaway, splurge on a stay at The St. Regis Bora Bora Resort. The magical overwater villas include 24-hour butler service, unforgettable views and access to the lagoon. While you’re on island time, go snorkeling or reef fishing, lounge by the pools, or book a relaxing treatment at Iridium Spa by Sothys. If you need a travel agent to assist in planning your dream getaway, Out Adventures specializes in small-group and bespoke gay travel. The company also offers an intimate 46-passenger, seven-night Tahiti Gay Cruise.
Explore New Zealand’s North Island
Plan a once-in-a-lifetime trip to New Zealand’s North Island, which offers a diverse vacation experience for everyone in the family. Here you’ll find the bustling cities of Auckland and Wellington, stunning scenery, beautiful beaches, and plenty of opportunities for outdoor adventure. You can even visit Middle Earth during a tour of the Hobbiton movie set in Matamata in the Waikato region. While in the area, you can also book a tour of the Waitomo Caves, a labyrinth of limestone caves housing thousands of glowworms, which twinkle like stars overhead as you leave the caves by boat. Wine lovers will also want to explore the picturesque Hawke’s Bay wine region.
Mountaintop glamping in Asheville, North Carolina
Escape to the mountains of western North Carolina at this 160-acre glamping retreat about 20 miles from downtown Asheville. The Glamping Collective offers eight luxury domes, nine glass cabins and five new XL Domes that sleep six guests. During your stay, you’ll have access to 5 miles of private hiking trails, including the 2-mile round-trip hike at Sunset Summit Trail. This route offers picturesque scenic overlooks, opportunities to see deer and other wildlife, and incredible sunrise and sunset views. The property also offers a few dog-friendly accommodations. When it’s time for food and drink, head into town to experience Asheville’s iconic food, craft cocktail and brewery scene.
Cross-country skiing in Glacier National Park
Avoid the summer crowds and enjoy the quiet majesty of Glacier National Park in winter when it’s blanketed in snow. Visitors to the park can go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing on trails and routes for all skill levels. While there are minimal park services at this time of year, you can opt for a guided excursion with experienced outfitters such as Glacier Adventure Guides, Glacier Treks Outdoor Adventures or Whitefish Outfitters & Tours. If you decide to go on your own, rental equipment is available at local shops. You can also download a skiing and snowshoeing brochure with detailed maps on the National Park Service website. For an overnight stay, Cedar Creek Lodge in Columbia Falls is one of several hotel options near the park.
Visit London during the coronation
London is anticipated to be one of the world’s top cities to visit in 2023, especially during the coronation of King Charles III on May 6. While you won’t be able to attend the event, you’ll at least see the British pomp and circumstance on full display throughout the city. One must-visit destination in London is the newly renovated art deco Battersea Power Station, which is home to dining, drinking and shopping establishments. Be sure to explore the British Museum, take in a show in the West End, have afternoon tea at The Savoy and visit Westminster Abbey after the coronation. You can also be one of the first guests to stay at The Peninsula London, an elegant hotel overlooking Wellington Arch and Hyde Park Corner in the Belgravia district, after its expected opening in early 2023.
Sail to the Caribbean on the world’s largest cruise ship
For a one-of-a-kind adventure on the high seas, book a cruise on Royal Caribbean International‘s Wonder of the Seas. There’s no end to the onboard fun on the largest cruise ship in the world with eight unique neighborhoods, nonstop entertainment, kids clubs, and more restaurant and bar venues than you’ll have time to visit. Wonder of the Seas sets sail from Port Canaveral, Florida, for Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries. Some voyages include a stop at the cruise line’s private island, Perfect Day at CocoCay.
Wellness retreat in St. Lucia
This all-inclusive beachfront luxury and holistic wellness resort offers a total mind and body transformation program through therapeutic care, classes, adventure activities and sports. Guests at BodyHoliday Saint Lucia can be as laid-back as they choose or participate in many of the activities and diet and exercise programming. Rooms with a view of the garden or ocean focus on a healthy lifestyle and feature the property’s “Sleep Well” concept with interior design inspired by feng shui. The St. Lucia property also has six restaurants — and they offer extensive vegan options.
Theme park thrills at Ohio’s Cedar Point
Roller coaster enthusiasts will want to plan an extended vacation to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, for its 18 world-class coasters, including the hyper-hybrid Steel Vengeance, which stands 205 feet tall. Steel Vengeance is also the longest hybrid coaster in the world, with 5,740 feet of track and cars reaching speeds of up to 74 miles per hour. Cedar Point, as one of the country’s top amusement parks, has fun things to do for everyone in the family: There’s more than 70 thrilling rides, live shows, an 18-acre water park and — coming in May 2023 — The Boardwalk. This new area is a modern take on the late-1800s boardwalk style equipped with rides and entertainment. Its Grand Pavilion will features unique culinary offerings, a riverfront bar, and unrivaled views of the park and Lake Erie’s coastline.
Girls weekend in Manhattan
Whether you’re celebrating a bride-to-be or just want to have fun getaway with the girls, you’ll have plenty of options for top-notch dining and attractions in New York City. Plan to stay in Manhattan at The Chatwal, one of the city’s top hotels. The beautiful historic property on 44th Street sits close to the Broadway theaters, restaurants and shopping. For a real treat, splurge on one of the property’s 10 Chatwal Crown suites that boast spacious terraces and butler service. While in town, save time to visit the new Museum of Broadway, which recently opened in Times Square. The immersive and interactive exhibits take visitors on a visual tour of the history of Broadway theater.
Eco-friendly resort in Costa Rica
Travel off the grid to a luxury eco-lodge nestled along the banks of the Pacuare River, around 60 miles east of San Jose. Pacuare Lodge is an intimate retreat with just 20 suites. The property focuses on sustainability efforts around the conservation of the rainforest and ecosystem, the local wildlife, use of energy and water, waste management, and more. Adventure activities include whitewater rafting, zip lining and canyoning. Through excursions and experiences at the lodge, guests can also learn about Indigenous cultures in Costa Rica, such as that of the Cabécar people, the country’s largest group of Indigenous people, who live in the rainforest and the Talamanca Mountains. The cuisine is one of the highlights at Pacuare Lodge, with organic and locally grown food — some of it sourced from the property’s farm — and thoughtfully harvested animal products. All the meals are prepared by culinary staff who live in the nearby towns and Indigenous communities.
Take a music-themed cruise on Celebrity Cruises
Celebrity Cruises offers a variety of themed cruises throughout the year, including options to sail with jazz legends like Wynton Marsalis and dance music icons like KC and The Sunshine Band. Whether you prefer easy-listening tunes or want to boogie the night away, there will surely be a cruise for you. The lineup for early 2023 includes the five-night Ultimate Disco Cruise, the seven-night Flower Power Cruise, the seven-night ’70s Rock & Romance Cruise and more. When you pack for your cruise, don’t forget your tie-dye shirts, miniskirts, bell bottoms and platform shoes so you can dance until dawn.
Reserve accommodations at a new luxury resort in the Riviera Maya
The St. Regis Kanai Resort, Riviera Maya is one of the new luxury properties opening in 2023 in Playa de Carmen along Mexico’s famous Yucatán Peninsula. The resort, scheduled to open in March, will feature 124 rooms and suites, two adults-only pools, one family pool, a spa, and eight dining and bar venues. The restaurants highlight various cuisines, such as Middle Eastern fare with Riviera Maya flair at Chaya, Latin America dishes starring at Toro, and delightful treats prepared with Mexican chocolate at The Library. For cocktails, the elegant rooftop St. Regis Bar serves handcrafted beverages inspired by the constellations once studied by the Mayans.
Acadia National Park and Ullikana Inn in Maine
After busy days exploring the natural beauty of Acadia National Park and shopping along Bar Harbor‘s busy Main Street downtown, you’ll appreciate returning to quiet luxury at Ullikana Inn. This English Tudor-style home built in 1885 is one of the few original cottages remaining in town. The property’s 11 rooms have private bathrooms; many also feature private terraces or fireplaces and water views. Guests of the bed-and-breakfast will enjoy an evening social, complimentary snacks and beverages, Molton Brown toiletries, and other amenities. A hearty Maine breakfast is served each morning next door at Bass Cottage Inn. Be sure to order fresh and local steamed lobster and lobster rolls at several restaurants while in town: One of the top-rated spots is The Travelin’ Lobster.
Catch the annular solar eclipse
According to the American Astronomical Society, North America will once again have the opportunity to see the sun, moon and Earth align on Oct. 14, 2023. This annular (or “ring-shaped”) eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, not entirely covering it for a total eclipse but leaving a “ring of fire.” The top places to catch the event are areas with clear skies in a 125-mile-wide path from Oregon to Texas, and then through parts of Mexico and South America. For the best viewing opportunities, AccuWeather recommends traveling to San Antonio or Corpus Christi in Texas or Albuquerque, New Mexico. Other more remote locations you can go include Four Corners National Monument at the conjunction of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona; Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah; and Crater Lake National Park in Oregon.
Ghost tours and Southern charm in Savannah, Georgia
Regarded as one of the most haunted cities in the world, Savannah offers spine-chilling ghost tours, creepy pup crawls and chance paranormal sightings at several of the inns, hotels, restaurants, breweries and historic buildings in town. When you’re not chasing (or hiding from) ghostly spirits, take time to visit the eerily beautiful Bonaventure Cemetery and explore the live oak-lined streets featured in “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” Plan to stay at the riverfront Thompson Savannah, where you’ll be close to the ever-expanding culinary and beverage scene, shopping, and other attractions in the city. At the end of the day, relax with a handcrafted cocktail at Bar Julian, the property’s adults-only rooftop bar overlooking the Savannah River.
[Read: The Most Haunted Hotels in America.]
Head west for a dude ranch vacation
Dude ranches are a popular vacation option for couples or families with outdoor adventure, horsemanship programs, sports, relaxation and even wellness activities. The ranches vary from working ranches with trained wranglers and hands-on ranching activities to resort-style, luxury and boutique properties offering fly-fishing, hiking, biking, water sports, glamping and other activities, depending on the location. In the U.S., you’ll find dude ranches in about a dozen Western states, including California, Wyoming, Colorado, Idaho and Montana. Once you decide on the type of experience you’re looking for, pack up your boots, grab your cowboy hat and head west for a one-of-a-kind vacation you’ll never forget.
Spend a weekend dining out in Music City
Nashville may be known for its country music legends, honky tonks and live music venues, but the city also has a burgeoning culinary scene that’s attracting talented chefs and bringing exciting new restaurants to town. One of these chefs is Jean-George Vongerichten, who is at the helm of restaurant Drusie & Darr and cafe The Pink Hermit at The Hermitage Hotel, a recently renovated and historic property. While in Nashville, stop by Assembly Food Hall, where you’ll find more than 30 eateries and bars, three stages with live entertainment, and Nashville’s largest rooftop. The city is also home to an impressive list of new hotels, including the Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences Nashville downtown and the Conrad Hotel in Midtown.
See the Canadian Rockies by rail
Rocky Mountaineer offers several jail journeys and tours to see the majestic Canadian Rockies. The nine-day First Passage to the West Grand Adventure I tour includes two days on board the train and then travel by motorcoach with hotel accommodations in the destinations. Travelers can choose the eastbound or westbound route between Jasper and Vancouver, with stops in Kamloops, Banff, Lake Louise and the Columbia Icefield, one of the largest masses of ice below the Arctic Circle. Travelers can choose the level of service and hotels with the line’s Silverleaf and Goldleaf options. Some tours and meals are included in the price, and you can customize the trip with add-on excursions and transfers.
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30 Vacation Ideas for Every Type of Traveler in 2023 originally appeared on usnews.com
Update 02/01/23: This slideshow was published at an earlier date and has been updated with new information.