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The Next Best Destinations 2021

After a year of exceptionally limited travel opportunities, the time for a much-needed vacation is upon us. Here are 10 destinations for you to consider visiting, when you’re ready to plan a big trip again.

Portland Head Light in Southern Maine. Photo courtesy of Visit Maine

In the last year, travel has been a dream for all of us. Spending our days at makeshift work-from-home desks has left us musing about warm oceans, foggy mountains, exotic cuisine and memorable nights spent with the people we love. As we enter the post-pandemic period, cities and towns are coming alive again, welcoming tourists in dire need of a vacation. In this spirit, Worth has rounded up 10 travel hot spots to keep on your radar. 

Hawaiian Islands

Fish rillette salad from M By Chef Mavro

Hawaii has long been a bucket-list destination for its stunning beaches, diverse culture and breathtaking scenery. Hawaii is open for travel, but it has implemented the Safe Travels program, which means travelers must test negative for COVID prior to their visit to bypass the 10-day quarantine. This is in effect even for fully vaccinated travelers. But with all there is to do and see in Hawaii, it seems well worth it. 

Where to Stay:

The Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua in Maui, Hawaii

This five-star resort overlooking the Pacific Ocean will help you relax with amenities like indigenous spa treatments and houses six restaurants for you to enjoy. You can choose from residences, rooms and suites for your lodging, as well as guest rooms and suites on the Club Level. 

Where to Play:

Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Take in Hawaii’s mesmerizing volcanoes at this national park. The park is open to the public again, but it should be noted that there are some road closures happening throughout the year, so check its website before you go. Fascinatingly, if you go soon, you might be able to see a live show, as Kilauea is currently in the midst of an eruption. 

Where to Eat:

Waiahole Poi Factory

If you’re after some tasty, traditional Hawaiian fare from a family-owned restaurant, look no further than Waiahole Poi Factory. You can try local staples like Kalua pig, salted pork shoulder that is wrapped in ti leaves and slow cooked, or poi, a paste made from steamed, pounded taro root.

M By Chef Mavro

Sample modern Hawaiian cuisine at M By Chef Mavro. Stop in for a five-course tasting menu or enjoy an array of options from the à la carte menu. Whichever route you choose, make sure you top it off with a vibrant cocktail or mocktail from Bar M. 

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The Great Smoky Mountains is the best place to visit for a nature lover looking to explore the Southeastern United States. Rising along the Tennessee-North Carolina border, this happens to be America’s most visited national park, and one quick Google Image search will show you why. This mountain range features some of the nation’s most breathtaking views, perfect for hiking and photo ops. 

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Where to Stay:

LeConte Lodge in Sevierville, Tennessee

This is the only hotel in the national park. The guest lodge, located in Sevierville, Tenn., is ideal if you want to stay right in the middle of nature, but still have some basic amenities.

Campsites

If you want the full experience, camping might be for you. There are four different campsites throughout the park, which vary from RV and tent camping to campgrounds intended for eight or more people. 

Where to Play:

Horseback Riding 

There are numerous stables throughout the park (Cades Cove, near Townsend, Tenn., Smokemont, near Cherokee, N.C., Smoky Mountain, near Gatlinburg, Tenn., and Sugarlands, near Gatlinburg, Tenn.). Rides along the beautiful trails can last anywhere from 45 minutes to a couple of hours. Some of the stables offer carriage and wagon rides, too. 

Bicycling 

Bicycling is a great way to incorporate fitness and enjoy the views at the same time. Though there are no mountain trails intended for bicycling, cyclists can safely ride their bikes on the roads in the park. 

Where to Eat:

Cades Cove Campground Store

There are no restaurants in the park. However, this campground store has a snack bar that serves breakfast foods, snacks, wraps and more.

Chesapeake’s Seafood and Raw Bar

If you’re not too deep into the park, and you want to go to a restaurant, consider visiting this seafood spot located in Gatlinburg, Tenn., where you can savor fresh seafood and local microbrews.

Southern Maine

Southern Maine has found itself situated as one of the top trending destinations this year, according to search data gathered by Airbnb. Maine presents itself as an ideal summer destination for its picturesque beaches, gorgeous coastline and plethora of outdoor activities from hiking and biking to boat tours and long walks on the beach. 

Where to Stay:

The Cottages at Cabot Cove in Kennebunkport, Maine

In a post-COVID world, what could be better than inhabiting your own luxury cottage? There are 16 to choose from, each designed by a different interior designer, yet all equally dreamy. Every cottage features a fully equipped kitchen, a private patio with views of either the cove or the gardens and a basket full of freshly baked goodies delivered every morning. The cottages are open until October. 

Where to Play:

Portland Head Light

If Maine had a symbol, it just might be the lighthouse. A particularly notable lighthouse worth visiting is the Portland Head Light in Cape Elizabeth. Not only can you take in the site of the Portland Head Light, but you will also be able to see four other lighthouses from here. Located in Fort Williams Park, you can also visit the Goddard Mansion, Battery Blair and Battery Keyes. The park and lighthouse grounds are open daily, but the museum and gift shop were closed at the time of publication. 

Ogunquit Beach

There are many stunning beaches in Maine, but one of the most notable is Ogunquit Beach. Its 3.5 miles of white sand and coastline make it an idyllic spot to spend a day soaking up the sun, playing in the sand and wading in the water. 

Where to Eat:

Eventide Oyster Co. 

In a place like Maine, you’ve got to get your hands on some good seafood, and Eventide Oyster Co. is just the place. Grab a seat in their outdoor patio space or order an Eventide brown butter lobster roll for a picnic on the beach! 

Chaval

If you’re looking for something a little different, head to Chaval—a brasserie serving up Spanish-and French-influenced dishes. The menu changes every day, and right now, they are operating on a pick-up or delivery basis. 

Milford Sound, New Zealand

New Zealand might currently be closed to foreign travelers, but we can only imagine that it will become a trending destination upon its reopening due to its captivating natural wonders, which allow locals and visitors alike to get away from the hustle and bustle. One of these wonders is Milford Sound—a remote destination noted for its idyllic waterfalls and mountains. 

Where to Stay:

Milford Sound Lodge in Milford Sound, New Zealand

Milford Sound is a remote destination, and as such, there are not many places to lodge within Milford Sound itself. If you are set on staying in the area, Milford Sound Lodge is the way to go. Book one of their riverside or mountain-view chalets or a chalet suite to spend some quality time amidst nature.

Where to Play:

Cruise Around Milford Sound

One of the best ways to take in Milford Sound is through a sightseeing cruise. You can book through Milford Sound Lodge, and it will include a night’s stay at the lodge, or you can book through Southern Discoveries directly. 

Milford Track

It takes four days to hike the 53.5-kilometer track, which will take you through lush landscapes, stopping at lodges along the way. It is recommended to visit between late October and late April, as it can become hazardous during the off-season. 

Where to Eat:

Pio Pio Restaurant 

Situated in the Milford Sound Lodge, Pio Pio offers New Zealand fare, highlighting local produce. Open seven days a week, you can dine from a three-course menu or à la carte in the evenings. 

San Juan, Puerto Rico

If you’re looking for a tropical getaway where you can enjoy both beaches and historic sites, San Juan, Puerto Rico, is an excellent choice. The island is known for its blend of Spanish-Caribbean culture with an American twist. So, if you’re someone who tends to get homesick fast, you may want to add Puerto Rico’s capital to your list of places to visit. 

Where to Stay:

Condado Vanderbilt Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico

Located in Condado, one of San Juan’s neighborhoods, the hotel is right on the beach and in the city center. Guests can enjoy a full-service spa, which features several treatment therapies, a Turkish bath/hammam and a steam room. In addition to being on the beach, the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel has three outdoor pools.

Where to Play:

Casino del Mar at La Concha Resort

The casino is a convenient four-minute walk from the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel. It’s a fun way to spend the night or day—since it’s open 24/7—featuring 400 gaming machines and 24 table and poker games. 

Castillo San Felipe del Morro

The famous castle/fort, also known as El Morro, is one of Puerto Rico’s most notable historical sites. It was built between the 16th and 18th centuries by Spanish troops to protect San Juan from seaborne enemies. Now, it’s a tourist attraction where locals and foreigners come to learn some island history, take photos and enjoy the scenery. 

Where to Eat:

1919 Restaurant

If you’re looking for fine dining with beautiful views, consider making a reservation at 1919 Restaurant, located in the Condado Vanderbilt Hotel. The upscale eatery is headed by chef Juan José Cuevas, who’s worked at multiple Michelin-starred restaurants, so you can expect the best of the best. 

San Juan Smokehouse

Want to experience San Juan like a local? San Juan Smokehouse is the place to visit. It’s a casual American and Caribbean restaurant and bar with a lively atmosphere.

Mykonos, Greece

Mykonos is known for its summer party vibes and beautiful beaches. Therefore, the island makes for an incredible trip if you want to not only relax, but also have the time of your life.

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Where to Stay:

Anax Resort & Spa in Mykonos, Greece

The five-star hotel stands out for its outstanding service and gorgeous island views. Anax Resort & Spa has access to two infinity pools, as well as a private beach made for sunbathing. 

Where to Play:

Little Venice

Take a stroll down one of Mykonos’ busiest locations. Little Venice, located in the Chora neighborhood, is the perfect way to get a taste of the island’s city life. It’s ideal for shopping, dining and exploring.

Delos

For some history, visit Delos, the mythological birthplace of Greek gods Apollo and Artemis. This location features some of Greece’s most significant archaeological sites. While Delos isn’t on the island of Mykonos, it’s just a ferry ride away.

Where to Eat:

Kastro’s

This upscale restaurant, located in Little Venice, offers some of the island’s most incredible Mediterranean cuisine. Kastro’s is popular for its stunning views of the waterfront, which you get to experience at its best with outdoor seating. 

Baos Fine Dining

For a romantic dinner with your significant other, visit Baos Fine Dining, which prides itself on delicious seafood and ambiance. And, of course, you can’t forget about the amazing views.

Las Vegas

They say whatever happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, so why not go all out and give yourself a vacation to remember?

Where to Stay:

Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nevada

This five-star hotel is right on the strip and offers amazing views. There are several luxurious rooms to choose from, including the presidential suite. Amenities include spas, fitness centers and in-room childcare. 

Where to Play:

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area

This site is a must if you want to see Mother Nature at her finest. You can enjoy the amazing geological features in a number of different ways. Entry passes vary from car/truck to motorcycle to bicycle/pedestrian to commercial tour vehicles, such as bus and limo rides.

Las Vegas Helicopter Night Flight

If national parks aren’t really your thing, going on a helicopter ride at night is a stellar way to experience Vegas’ beautiful views. You can even get picked up at your hotel if you desire. The helicopter ride lasts 12 to 13 minutes and seats six passengers plus the pilot. It’s recommended you book the flight with a party of six, as social distancing is not practiced on the aircraft. 

Where to Eat:

Restaurant Guy Savoy

This refined French dining spot is perfect if you’re looking to enjoy an intimate and romantic date night. The two Michelin-starred restaurant is located in Caesars Palace and has a gorgeous view of Paris Las Vegas’ Eiffel Tower.

Nobu

If you’re craving Japanese cuisine, consider dining at Nobu, also located in Caesars Palace. Nobu features a stylish lounge with a sushi bar and hibachi grills.

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

Sink your toes into white sand beaches, splash into vivid blue waters and take in the colonial architecture in the capital city of the U.S. Virgin Islands. Located on the island of St. Thomas, Charlotte Amalie has much to offer travelers, from watersports and historic sites to scenic views and the chance to unwind. 

Where to Stay:

Bolongo Bay Beach Resort in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas

Experience a unique take on an all-inclusive resort at Bolongo Bay Beach Resort. The first all-inclusive resort in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Bolongo Bay offers guests à la carte dining, unlimited cocktails and an array of watersports gear, including paddleboards and kayaks. And if you book an all-inclusive stay for five nights or longer, you’ll get a Sunset Harbor Cocktail Cruise on the resort’s 53-foot catamaran included. And if all-inclusive packages aren’t for you, don’t worry, Bolongo Bay also offers room-only plans. 

Where to Play:

Drake’s Seat

If you’re looking for beautiful views mixed with some island history, Drake’s Seat is sure to impress. The lookout has breathtaking views of Magens Bay and is said to be named after Sir Francis Drake, who, the story goes, used this overlook to keep an eye on the harbor for enemy Spanish ships.   

99 Steps 

Don’t let the name fool you, the 99 Steps are actually 103 steps. At any rate, these historical steps, made by the Danes in the 1700s from ballast used in ships, provide for a great photo op. The steps will lead you to Blackbeard’s Castle, a national historic landmark—though, at the time of publication, the castle was closed for renovations in the wake of Hurricane Irma. 

Where to Eat:

Hook, Line & Sinker

When in Charlotte Amalie, go where the locals go. Head to Hook, Line & Sinker to enjoy freshly caught fish just 10 feet off the water. 

Tavern of Charlotte Amalia

If you’re in the mood for something slightly more upscale, try Tavern of Charlotte Amalia. Take in stunning views of the ocean while dining on fan favorites, such as the pierogis, cabbage rolls and Caribbean stir-fry.

Quintana Roo, Mexico

Located on the Yucatán Peninsula, Quintana Roo is a Mexican state encompassing cities like Cancún, Playa del Carmen, Cozumel, Tulum and more. In Quintana Roo, you’ll get to experience vivid blue oceans, vibrant culture and ancient ruins.

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Where to Stay:

Viceroy Riviera Maya in Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo

Escape to your private villa at the Viceroy Riviera Maya. The hotel features 41 villas, each with its own private pool, outdoor shower and patio with handmade hammock. You can enjoy a white sand beach, a library lounge and the full-service Wayak Spa.  

Where to Play:

Mayan Ruins

You can explore Mayan ruins throughout Quintana Roo. Two notable sites are Chichén Itzá, considered one of the new wonders of the world, and the Tulum Archeological Zone, which features an ancient Mayan compound, complete with ancient temples and a breathtaking coastline. 

Dolphin Discovery Cozumel

Head to Cozumel, an island off the coast of Playa del Carmen, to have a safe and exciting dolphin encounter; you’ll get to interact with the dolphins through an array of behaviors, such as caressing and hugging the animals. You can also swim with their dolphins, as well as their manatees and sea lions. As for the dolphins, they were all born under human care through Dolphin Discovery Cozumel’s breeding program. 

Where to Eat:

Porfirio’s Restaurante in Cancun

Serving up contemporary Mexican cuisine in a high-end environment, Porfirio’s offers an array of dishes, like green enchiladas, grilled arrachera (skirt steak) with roasted nopal (the pads of the prickly pear cactus) and a whole host of taco options, including crispy crab and filet with marrow. 

Arca in Tulum

Arca is known for serving a progressive menu of micro-seasonal food and is composed of small plates made for sharing. Try offerings like sea urchin ceviche, roasted bone marrow and suckling pig roulade. 

Anchorage, Alaska

Alaska’s largest city is home to several cultural sites and amazing wildlife. It’s definitely worth a trip, especially if you love cold weather, as snow is typically present in Alaska from October to March/April. 

Where to Stay:

Hotel Captain Cook in Anchorage, Alaska

Hotel Captain Cook is located within walking distance of several tourist attractions, including the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail and the Alaska Center for the Performing Arts. The hotel varies in room type and offers either mountain views, landscape views or city views.

Where to Play:

The Alaska Railroad

If you want to take in all the beauty of Alaska, here’s one fun way to do it: Take a train ride on this iconic railroad, which connects several of Alaska’s best sights and landmarks, including Denali National Park and the Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop. 

Anchorage Aurora Quest – Northern Lights Photo Tour

This tour is ideal if you love photography and have always wanted to experience the beautiful Northern Lights in person. This one-of-a-kind tour takes place at night, so you can fully enjoy Alaska’s gorgeous night sky and the nature surrounding it. You have the option to get picked up from wherever you’re staying, and then you will ride inside a tour van where social distancing isn’t possible, therefore wearing masks is mandatory until you arrive at the open areas outside. 

Where to Eat:

Kincaid Grill

This is known as one of Anchorage’s best fine dining establishments. It’s also known for its amazing hospitality and seafood, so if that’s up your alley, the Kincaid Grill and Wine Bar is the place to go. 

Snow City Cafe

For delicious brunch and breakfast foods, visit the Snow City Cafe. It’s also very convenient as this spot is a four-minute walk from Hotel Captain Cook. 

For more stories from our recent travel issue, check out the digital magazine here

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