There are so many amazing places to travel in this world. It was hard to narrow it down to just ten. In this list, there is a mix of countries, states, cities and state parks. There is a mix because, in many of these places, there is so much to see and do that it’s hard to stay in one small city when there is so much else to see. If you are a big hiker, many of these places should be on your list. Travel is a unique experience for everyone. Some people like to spend most of their time outdoors, some people like to spend time at cultural attractions such as museums, and others may want restaurants, theaters or nightlife. What makes a good travel experience depends on your interests. Many of the people I asked about the best places to travel were like me and like to spend time outdoors, so my list of the best travel places includes areas with many outdoor activities or scenic attractions. My list is in no particular order, but I have been to four of the ten locations and would love to travel to the remainder of them.
Hawaii is a top ten travel destination because of the great weather, the scenic beauty of the islands, and the diversity of geography, people and large number of activities. Each of the Hawaiian Islands offers a different experience. For example, Oahu is a large city in Honolulu, but also offers beautiful white sand beaches, the Bonsai pipeline for surfing, and for the extremely daring, the Haiku stairs. While climbing up the Haiku stairs is technically forbidden, it looks like it provides unbelievable views and a good work out. The Big Island of Hawaii provides a completely different experience with volcanoes, small towns, and even snow on the peak of Mauna Kea. Maui offers a different experience and I am sure the same is true about the remainder of the islands. The one thing they all have in common is great weather and lots of outdoor activities. Whether it’s golfing, surfing, snorkeling, hiking, waterfall or biking, Hawaii has something for nearly all outdoor enthusiasts. On occasion, you can even ski on the snow-covered peaks of Hawaii.
Although the climate is generally cold, it’s not as cold as one would think given that Iceland sits on the edge of the Arctic Circle and warm ocean climates buffet the island’s southern shores. Reykjavik is the country’s largest city and the metro area makes up about 60% of Iceland’s population of 330,000 people. The city is easily walkable and has beautiful, colorful structures, great restaurants and numerous cultural attractions, such as museums and arts. For those willing to bundle up, there is much to see in Iceland such as volcanoes, hot springs, waterfalls and glaciers. The southern shore is frequented by tourists due to the easily accessible glaciers and waterfalls while the northern and eastern parts of the island are more sparsely populated and perfect for those who like to explore small towns, get away from it all or simply spend time outdoors. No trip to Iceland would be complete without a hike on a glacier, soaking in a hot spring or viewing the Northern Lights in the spring, winter or fall. The Northern Lights can’t be seen in the summer as the daylight lasts through the night.
3. Quebec City
Quebec City offers an urban setting that is unlike any other in North America. The city sits on a hill overlooking the majestic St. Lawrence River and is one of the oldest cities in North America. Quebec City has the feel of Europe due to its narrow winding streets, French-speaking citizens and well-preserved architecture. Some of the sites that should not be missed include the Chateau Frontenac, perhaps the most photographed hotel in the world, Montmorency Falls, and the upper and lower parts of Old Quebec. Quebec City is known for its Winter Carnival and there are things to do year round. Other things to do in the area include skiing at Mount St. Anne in the winter or driving a few hours north to a whale watch on the river during the summer months.
4. Adirondack Mountains
The Adirondack Mountain Park is a large area of land in Northern New York that includes vast tracts of wilderness, small towns and villages and the highest peaks in New York State. The best-known area is Lake Placid, NY, host city for the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics. The 1980 Olympics in Lake Placid was the setting for the “Miracle on Ice” and nearly all of the Olympic facilities continue to operate to this day and can be toured or used. Major international skiing events, sledding events and skating activities still take place at Whiteface Mountain, Mount Van Hovenberg or the downtown skating arenas.
While Lake Placid is a hub of activity, most of the Adirondacks is made up of trails, lakes, lean-tos and campsites. The best way to thoroughly enjoy the Adirondacks is to fill your backpack with gear, put on your hiking boots and find a trail to walk. Some of the trails are busy with many people seeking to get to the top of a mountain for the awesome view, while on other trails you may not see another person all day.
Switzerland’s location in the Alps of Central Europe makes it an interesting and beautiful place to visit. Switzerland’s appeal comes from its natural beauty with remarkable areas such as Lake Geneva and Zermatt. Lake Geneva sits on the country’s western border with France and the city of Geneva is known for its luxury shops and cobblestone streets. Zermatt, on the other hand, is a region in southern Switzerland that sits at the base of the Matterhorn and is just over the border from Italy. The region is best known for its skiing, hiking and outdoor activities.
Like many of the other areas on the list, Maine has something for everyone, especially outdoor enthusiasts. Southern Maine offers small towns with great shopping and beautiful beaches. Although most beaches tend to be small, some beaches such as Old Orchard Beach and Ogunquit are quite large and offer activities generally not associated with Maine, such as surfing and paddle boarding. As you go farther north along the coast you’ll find Acadia National Park which has beaches, seas cliffs and mountains all in one area. The hiking in the park can range from well-maintained carriage trails to daring, dangerous trails such as the Precipice Trail, which is not for the fearful and has taken numerous lives. Everywhere along the coast of Maine, one will find two common themes…lobsters and blueberries. Both are excellent.
Move away from the coast and one will find a more rural area that has numerous lakes, rivers and mountains. In North/Central Maine is Baxter State Park, home of Mount Katahdin, the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail.
Colorado makes the top ten list because of its natural beauty, parks and hip social culture. Denver, the capital, sits at the base of the Rocky Mountains and is home to major sports teams such as the Rockies, Nuggets and Broncos and has all cultural attractions of any major urban area in the United States. But less than an hour to the west lies some of the largest mountains in the country. Mount Elbert, the highest peak in Colorado, has snow year round and can be hiked in a day. Rocky Mountain National Park, also a short distance from Denver, crosses through the Continental Divide and one can see some of the most iconic animals in the Western United States such as elk, Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, and moose. Colorado is also known for its incredible skiing with resort towns: Vail, Aspen and Steamboat Springs being just a few of the areas that offer world-class skiing.
Alaska is an outdoor lover’s paradise with mountains, glaciers, the sea, rivers, lakes and everything else associated with the outdoors. Known for its hunting and fishing, Alaska also has many other things to offer such as whale watches, wildlife viewing and small coastal towns, such as Homer or Ketchikan. While you can get to parts of Alaska by car, many areas are isolated and only reachable by planes and boats.
Only a short plane ride from the coast of Florida, the Bahamas offer an island setting with activities such as going to the beach, snorkeling and fishing. The country is made up of numerous islands with the larger ones, such as Grand Bahama, known for its resorts and upscale hotels. Many people fly to the Bahamas while others travel there on cruise ships from the United States and the Caribbean.
Australia is the only place on the list that is located in the Southern Hemisphere. The biggest draws to Australia include seeing the Sydney Opera House, the Sydney Harbor Bridge, the Great Barrier Reef and the Outback.