It’s that time of the year again, as 2016 comes to a close we are looking to the future and already planning trips for the New Year. To help everyone plan the best vacation possible, we put together a list of some of our favorite destinations, as selected by our talented team of bloggers, highlighting spots around the world. From cities close to home to more far flung locales, here are the travel destinations we think should be at the top of everyone’s 2017 travel wish list.
Grab your rain gear and head to Edinburgh to kick off your Scottish adventure. Stay in town for a few days, but what this country is really known for (besides haggis) is its natural beauty. Hike to waterfalls, through moors and show your kids there is more to vacation than just visiting animated characters. Putt around the greens of St. Andrews, go on a hunt for Nessie at Loch Ness or run away with the fairies on the Isle of Skye. No matter where you go in this proud land, you will find friendly locals, wild adventures and make memories with your kids that they will always cherish. Just don’t forget your plastic swords. We hear there are dragons up in those hills.
For decades, Myanmar secluded itself from the rest of Southeast Asia and the world. This created a bubble that not only slowed down the country’s economic development but also preserved certain cultural aspects that have already been lost in neighboring countries. But, in the past decade, Myanmar has reopened its doors and welcomed more tourism and economic trade at an exponential rate. Unfortunately, Myanmar does not have the infrastructure that can handle this increase in tourism or the rapid economic change. This, unavoidably, is forcing the country to change and adapt to a "modern era." It is possible that in the near future, popular sites like Bagan will start restricting tourism to control the increasing crows, and with the ease of commerce more locals might opt to wear Western clothes, instead of the local longyis, diminishing the local dressing traditions. If you want to see the mysterious and unique Myanmar, you should go now.
Virginia’s mountain regions including the Blue Ridge and the Appalachian Trail that cuts through the state, have always known to be beautiful but lately more and more people from around the world are discovering that the region’s culture is just as interesting. Start off in Roanoke, the Star City, and learn about how this city has transformed itself over the last decade. Also be sure to spend some time either driving the Blue Ridge Parkway or hiking the Appalachian Trail. Finish things off with a stay at the secluded Primland Resort, recently named one of the best hotels in the world.
In a country famous for its food, Bologna has the special designation as being the culinary heart (or stomach) of Italy. More foods started here than you can possibly imagine, including Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, lasagna, ragu sauce, tagliatella and even Balsamic vinegar. Visitors should eat everything they can in and around Bologna, spend some time at the Lamborghini factory and museum and brace themselves for a new attraction soon to be built in the area, an Eataly theme park. Also, the city of Bologna is amazing in its own right with plenty to see and do and an impressive history to learn more about.
Rain Forest, Costa Rica
What adventurer has not dreamed of hiking through the rain forest? Just imagine taking in the sunrise while sitting next to exotic orchids, hearing the jungle calls of wild monkeys or trekking through crocodile infested swamps. The rain forest is full of natural beauty, adventure and a vast amount of wildlife. Costa Rica has all these elements and more. It is the perfect recipe for an outdoor adventure in 2017.
Craft beer has been steadily gaining in popularity over the past decade. And now, many craft beer lovers are taking to brewing their own beer at home, as well. With a rich craft beer culture – over 70 craft breweries and at least one beer festival almost every month – Portland, Oregon is still at the top of foodie travelers lists for exploring this hoppy delicacy.
Northern Lights in Iceland
October through March (and sometimes April) you have the chance to see the Northern Lights with your kids in Iceland. If you are coming from the U.S. this trip couldn't be easier. There are direct flights from many major cities across the country. Book a hotel that has a northern lights wake-up call so you don't have to sit in the cold on a boat or with a bus full of people. Make sure you take the Golden Circle tour during the day to see Gulfoss (waterfall), Geysir, and Thingvellir (original seat of Parliament from Viking times).
Even people who don’t normally like tropical islands tend to fall in love with Curacao. Located deep in the Southern Caribbean, close to Venezuela, Curacao has the beaches and palm trees you’d expect, but a lot more as well. For a variety of reasons, the island has been able to retain its Dutch culture and spirit in a way that other islands have not, which is one reason why the colorful city of Willemstad was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wandering around town you’ll discover a culture rich in tradition, with some of the best meals found anywhere in the Caribbean.
Canada’s National Parks
2017 is a special year in Canada, there are lots of anniversaries going on including the 150th birthday of the Canadian Confederation and the 100th anniversary of the country’s impressive national parks system. From coast to coast, these parks are some of the most beautiful places on the planet and two in particular – Banff and Jasper – rank among my favorite travel destinations. 2017 is the best year to explore Canada’s national parks because, in light of this celebration, all parks will be free to visitors for the duration of the year. No one does this ever, so take advantage of this rare chance to see the best of Canada’s natural treasures for free. Some highlights of Canada’s National Parks include: the Icefields Parkway, Maligne Lake, Bay of Fundy, Gros Morne, Kootenay, Prince Edward Island and many, many more.
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