12 Best Places to Travel in 2021 for a Much-Needed Vacation

April 24, 2023
8 min read
12 Best Places to Travel in 2021 for a Much-Needed Vacation

It's 2021 and you, most likely, are in dire need of a vacation. After 18 months of pandemic lock down, remote school, city-wide shut-downs, job stress, and travel regulations - many of us have the itch to get out of our bubbles and explore somewhere new.

Luckily, the options are endless! Whether you're looking for an activity-filled adventure or a relaxing beach getaway, the world is your oyster. We've put together this list of the best places to travel in 2021 according to different criteria so that you can find the perfect location!

1) The Florida Keys

The Florida Keys is an ideal family and romantic vacation destination. With tons of water-based activities, like snorkeling and scuba diving, the Florida Keys is a great place to get away from it all. There are also opportunities for hiking in Everglades National Park or exploring undersea life at Key West Aquarium.

What's unique is that this location offers plenty of outdoor adventures, not just beautiful beaches to kick back and relax at. While the waters are beautifully turquoise and the sun is often shining, you can fill your days with adventures like snorkeling and scuba diving, hiking at Everglades National Park, exploring undersea life at Key West Aquarium, or paddling boats around the Keys.

2) Oahu, HI

Alooooha. It's no surprise that Hawaii is on every list of top vacations. Beautiful beaches, sunshine, surf... what's not to love?

Oahu is a great place to visit, as it's home to the historical Pearl Harbor and an active volcano. If you make your way over here from Maui or Kauai, then there are plenty of modern activities like shopping in Honolulu (in case you forgot something for yourself) or going out on a whale watching tour with Makapuu.

Traveling with your family? Oahu guarantees to provide tons of family fun for kids and adults of all ages. Some activities that are most popular on the Island of Oahu include snorkeling, surfing, hiking, sunset cruises, outrigger boats, swimming with dolphins, and more!

3) Outer Banks, NC

Outer Banks is one of the East Coast's most popular vacation gems, and it's easy to see why! The five lighthouses built here, as well as the sheer beauty of being on the beach year-round is what draws people in. There are many seaside towns to explore such as Kitty Hawk and Nags Head. The Outer Banks has a vibe all its own with miles of uninterrupted beach sand for sunbathing, surfing or fishing!

Outer Banks beaches are lauded for their consistent yet manageable waves and verdant landscapes. And you can count on North Carolina's OBX to deliver great summer weather (think: highs in the 70s and 80s).

4) Monterey, CA

No vacation list would be complete without some California favorites! Monterey, right in the beautiful central coast of California, has tons of options for travelers of all types - from food & wine lovers to outdoor enthusiasts.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium is a must-see for families of all ages, with more than 34 exhibits including the Kelp Forest and interactive touch pools. The aquarium's exterior is also home to world-renowned tide pools that are mesmerizing in their beauty - just be sure to bring your camera!

For those interested in golf and beautiful views, Pebble Beach and 17-mile drive are a must. Just south of Monterey, Pebble Beach has hosted the U.S. Open four times and is home to all three 18-hole courses - The Links, The Golf Course, and Cypress Point Club - as well as several restaurants including the world-famous Bistro Agoura Hills which overlooks the 17-mile drive.

5) Tybee Island, GA

If the South East is on your radar, Tybee Island, just outside of Savannah, GA will not disappoint.

Its culture and history are unparalleled, but its natural beauty is worth the visit as well. The island was once home to Fort Screven which served as a Union stronghold during the Civil War until it fell in 1864. It's now managed by Tybee Island National Seashore, an area of land with over 17 miles of pristine coastline, swimmable ocean waters, bike trails, coastal businesses, and so much more.

The biggest perk of Tybee Island? It's proximity to Savannah, GA. If you've had enough sun, you and your family can enjoy the shade of Savannah's Spanish Moss Trees, southern comfort food, jazz music, art, and so much more.

6) Grand Canyon, AZ

While some people just call it a big ditch in the ground, the Grand Canyon is so much more than that. ) Hiking

The Grand Canyon has more than 100 miles of trails. There are many different routes you can take that offer a variety of views and scenery to suit any hiker's taste. Bring good hiking boots, water, sunscreen, and bug repellent for your trip!

Grand Canyon is such a popular vacation spot because so many people - families, couples, adventure groups - travel from around the world to see the beautiful sights for themselves.

Want to get up close and personal with the canyon floor? There are plenty of opportunities for kayaking and rafting on the Colorado River, which is one of two major tributaries that flow into Grand Canyon. Open-top motorboats can also be used to see points along the canyon's edge.

Or if you want to stay at the rim, Grand Canyon Village has an array of hiking trails, horseback riding opportunities and guided tours available to explore the canyon without ever getting wet.

There's even a scenic drive that winds along an elevated road on the South Rim for those who don't want to exert themselves at all; it offers gorgeous views from far below or close up as you please.

7) San Diego, CA

In the last decade, San Diego has become one of the most popular places to vacation. This is due in large part to its mild climate and proximity to other famous cities like Los Angeles or Las Vegas. There are many things for kids to do as well. Sea World's animals provide a fun experience that can help teach your little ones about marine life, while the San Diego Zoo lets them get up close and personal with iconic animals.

Not traveling with kids? San Diego offers some of the most beautiful beaches in Southern California, and is home to world-class surfing. It also offers amazing Mexican cuisine, so if you're not feeling like putting on a bathing suit or getting wet at all, there are plenty of great restaurants for you to enjoy.

8) Lake Tahoe

Itching for a vacation that has it all - mountains, lakes, trails, and more? Tahoe might just be the place. This gem of a vacation spot is the perfect escape from summer heat, and hikers can take their pick of hundreds of miles worth of trails. Lake Tahoe offers year-round attractions such as skiing, mountain biking, kitesurfing, fishing - the list goes on!

Visit in the winter and you'll have multiple mountain resorts to choose from, all overlooking the deep blue waters of the lake. Visit in the summer, and you'll find yourself vacationing alongside adventurous families, trail runners, backpackers, bikers, and the likes. Plus, after a day in the mountains, what's better than relaxing on the beach and dipping in the lake?

9) Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. might be an obvious vacation choice to some, but if you haven't been before, it's one of the best places to travel in 2021. It is a great city for families because there are museums and monuments galore. Some to note include:

  • Smithsonian Museums have some exhibits available which will work with kids' interests like sports and music.
  • The National Mall has so many memorials that you could spend a full week exploring them and still not see them all.
  • The D.C. Zoo is one of the greats in all of North America.
  • The National Air and Space Museum is a fan favorite and has an observation deck that's free on Monday afternoons when it isn't too busy.
  • The White House is always a fun stop for kids to explore what life might be like as President.

10) Sedona, AZ

There's a reason why Sedona is considered one of the best places to visit in 2021. Known for its natural beauty and historic sites, this town has something for everyone. If you want to spend an afternoon hiking or biking through the red rocks, then head over to Devil's Bridge Trailhead Park.

If you're interested in arts and culture, Sedona is a must-see spot for you as well. From artist markets to gallery walks, this gem of a town is a must-visit on your 2021 travel list.

11) Big Sur, CA

Those who have visited Big Sur in their lifetime know that they are some of the lucky few. This dramatic, isolated coastline on California's central coast is a treat for anyone who gets the chance to drive through. The redwoods, the lighthouses, and the big tide pools are just a few of Big Sur's attractions.

The best thing about this destination is that it can be accomplished in one day or weekend getaway. With so much to see, you'll want to spend as many hours here as possible, but if you have very little time, simply driving route 1 through this part of the state will appease your travel desires.

12) Acadia National Park, ME

Last but certainly not least, Acadia National Park is an excellent destination for families. With beautiful hikes and serene coastal drives, you'll be able to enjoy all that the area has to offer with those who matter most.

Before your vacation ends, take a ferry from Bar Harbor over to Nova Scotia - one of Canada's Maritime Provinces, where there are plenty more adventures. But if you're looking to stay within the country, the small seaports along the Maine coastline will provide plenty of entertainment (and delicious lobster).

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