If you’re looking to find a destination that suits your tastes, we’re here to help! Much like last year’s version, we’re bringing you 20 fantastic destinations across the US (some popular, some lesser-known) that you must visit in 2020; only this time we’re matching each destination to a popular traveler type or interest. So whether you’re looking for world-class museums, a wine getaway, or a heart-pounding thrill ride, dive in and find the 2020 destination for you!
Ocracoke, North Carolina
Perfect for: The beach bum
With 16 miles of unspoiled, secluded beaches, Ocracoke is an ideal setting for a beach getaway without the crowds or condos. While Ocracoke is an island that you’ll have to access by ferry, it’s well worth the commute for the pristine scenery and relaxed vibes that await you. Ocracoke’s main attractions are its beaches—Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach was recently named as the 2nd best in America by esteemed beach expert Dr. Beach. When you’re not at the beach, the village is relaxed and charming, with quaint local restaurants galore serving up fresh Atlantic seafood.
“Nature at its finest. Uncrowded perfection of windswept dunes, powdery white sand, clear water, and frothy waves breaking out over a sandbar. Excellent spot to walk and treasure hunt for shells! Perfect place to enjoy the beauty and power of living in the moment.” — Traveler Review of Ocracoke Beach
Perfect for: A family vacation with a little bit of everything
Cincinnati may not immediately come to mind as a family vacation hotspot, but is loaded with activities for travelers of all ages. Animal-obsessed youngsters will love the magnificent Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden as well as the Newport Aquarium, right across the river in Kentucky. Prefer a thrill? The water slides of Coney Island and the exhilarating roller coasters of Kings Island, the Midwest’s largest amusement park, should do the trick. Aside from the multitude of family fun opportunities, Cincinnati earns bonus points for being relatively budget-friendly and easy to access with its central location.
Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota
Perfect for: The museum dweller
While cities like New York, DC, and Chicago get much of the national acclaim for their museums, you can make a case that the Twin Cities belong in that same conversation. The metro area is home to 55 museums in total, and you can easily spend a week exploring different ones without getting bored. In Minneapolis, the headliner is the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and lovers of the arts should also check out The Museum of Russian Art and the Weisman Art Museum. For local history, try the Mill City Museum, built into the ruins of what was once the world’s largest flour mill, and the Minnesota History Center in neighboring St. Paul. St. Paul is also home to the Minnesota Children’s Museum and the Science Museum of Minnesota, perfect for inquisitive youth.
“This museum is worth spending the day at. The variety of the collections is staggering. One gallery leads to the next, and so on until you feel a little lost in the art. There are paintings, statues, furniture, whole rooms! The jade collection is beautiful. There is also a lunch shop and tables in the main entrance. There are also helpful people to guide you.” — Traveler Review of The Minneapolis Institute of Art
Perfect for: The craft beer enthusiast
Despite being a relatively small city, Burlington punches way above its weight class as a craft beer destination. This charming lakeside locale is home to a number of highly-regarded breweries, like Switchback Brewing, Zero Gravity Craft Brewery, Foam Brewers, Fiddlehead Brewing Company, and Magic Hat Brewery Company. A great way to sample them all in an afternoon is this brewery tour, where you can enjoy guided tastings at each spot and learn more about the brewing process behind each beer. When it’s time to burn off all that beer consumption, stroll around the lovely Church Street Marketplace or take a ride on the Burlington Bike Path.
Amelia Island, Florida
Perfect for: The small-town romantic getaway
With secluded, white-sand beaches, gorgeous natural attractions, and a charming town center, Amelia Island is tailor-made for a romantic getaway. Here’s a small sampling of the many things you and your significant other can do in this quaint Florida town: To explore some of the area’s natural attractions and wildlife, try this self-guided kayak tour, where you’re given a route that takes you through the lush mangroves. To sightsee in town, try this cocktail tour, or stroll through the lovely Amelia Island Historic District, full of charming shops, restaurants, and bars. And of course, it doesn’t get much more romantic than a sunset horseback ride on the beach.
“My husband and I were on a road trip. I navigated him to this unbelievable place. Christmas card worthy. Romantic. The restaurants, saloons, taverns, shops, streets, bed and breakfast places all were absolutely amazing. We are going back in October for three days. Can’t get enough of this place.” — Traveler Review of Amelia Island Historic District
Perfect for: Outdoor urban adventure seekers
Chattanooga was named as the “Best Town Ever” two years in a row by Outside Magazine, so while its inclusion here may not be a surprise, it’s well worth a visit. It’s bisected by the Tennessee River, which is perfect for kayaking, paddleboarding, and boating. See the river up close at the Tennessee Riverpark, which stretches for 13 miles and has several entry points, attracting bikers, joggers, and casual strollers alike. Don’t miss hikes like the Glen Falls Trail and Lookout Mountain, where you can see Ruby Falls, and as the name might suggest, stunning views of the surrounding area. You can see more of the urban areas and local haunts of Chattanooga with this Segway tour, or this walking tour.
Perfect for: Foodies
Located in the heart of America’s most bountiful agricultural region, California’s capital has an advantage that gives it A-list status for foodies: easy access to a vast array of fresh ingredients. See why Sacramento is known as the nation’s farm-to-fork capital with a food tour—this one takes you through multiple restaurants in the city’s lively downtown, and this one gives you a taste of the bustling Midtown neighborhood. For individual restaurants, TripAdvisor travelers recommend The Kitchen and The Waterboy for fine dining, Biba for outstanding Italian, and Bacon & Butter for an unforgettable breakfast.
Perfect for: Lovers of live music
When you think live music in the US, you likely think of Nashville and Austin. But it’s a different Southern college town that earns the nod here. Athens is best known for being home to the University of Georgia, but what you may not know is renowned bands like The B-52’s and R.E.M got their start here. Today, Athens stays true to its rock roots at iconic venues like 40 Watt Club and The Georgia Theatre and don’t miss other essential spots like The Classic Center, The Foundry, and Live Wire Athens. More into the festival scene? Check out AthFest, a 3-day music and arts festival that hosts over 100 bands every summer.
“This was my second year going for a music weekend to Athens, Georgia. The 40 Watt Club is one of the best venues I’ve ever been to. This year was as consistent as last year. Fabulous sound system, friendly staff, great acts booked in. A good crowd that never seems to be out of control. If you are in the area, check out a show, you won’t be disappointed!” — Traveler Review of the 40 Watt Club
Las Vegas, Nevada
Perfect for: Adrenaline junkies
In Las Vegas, you can find plenty of thrills and heart-pounding excitement outside of the casino. Start with a thrilling ride on the Stratosphere Tower where you’ll be swung, spun, and suspended high above the Strip. If you want something a bit more laid back but with the same spectacular Strip views, try the High Roller observation wheel, which towers 550 feet above the ground. Las Vegas is also home to pretty much any mode of adrenaline-inducing transportation you can imagine—try this helicopter tour from the Strip to the Grand Canyon, this hot air balloon ride, or this exotic car racing experience at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Perfect for: History buffs
While Montgomery has a somber history as a primary location in the Civil Rights Movement, the city has done an admirable job preserving that history, celebrating the courageous Civil Rights activists, and educating visitors on the events that took place within Montgomery and the rest of Alabama. Some recommended sites include the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, the Rosa Parks Library and Museum, the Civil Rights Memorial Center, and the Dexter Patronage Museum, which was Dr. Martin Luther King’s home in the city. To see these sites and many others that make up the historical fabric of Montgomery, try this tour, which takes you through 16 of the city’s most significant attractions and provides live commentary and storytelling throughout.
“Give yourself enough time so that you can view and think about what you’re seeing. It’s hard to come face to face with our brutal past. But in order to go forward, we have to try to understand our past. We’re supposed to learn from our MISTAKES. Have we? Long overdue and expertly done! Life changing!” — Traveler Review of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice
Greenville, South Carolina
Perfect for: The trendsetter in search of the next “hot” destination
With a thriving arts scene, acclaimed bars and restaurants, and a beautiful, happening downtown, Greenville has all the ingredients to be one of America’s next hot getaway spots (some may say it is already!). Start by eating and drinking your way through the city with this breakfast tour, or this craft cocktail tour. Make some time to check out arguably the crown jewel of the city—Falls Park on the Reedy. This oasis right in the heart of the city boasts cascading waterfalls, a stunning suspension bridge, and plenty of walking trails. To see further-reaching parts of the city (that are equally worthwhile) try this Segway tour where you can learn some local secrets and facts.
“Greenville has made huge strides in changing itself from a sleepy little Southern town to being a beautiful, international city worth visiting. The Falls Park is a perfect example of these efforts. It invites peaceful contemplation and enjoyment of nature while having fun. It also brings people to different stores, shops, and restaurants in a lovely setting appropriate for all ages and almost all physical conditions.” — Traveler Review of Falls Park on the Reedy
Perfect for: The trendy urban explorer
Some combination of beer, brats, and baseball likely comes to mind when you think of Milwaukee. While those are very much still ingrained in the fabric of the city, this lakeside metropolis has quietly developed into a hip hotspot filled with can’t-miss urban attractions. Make some time to walk the Milwaukee RiverWalk and through trendy neighborhoods like the Historic Third Ward. Browse the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Harley-Davidson Museum, and the Milwaukee Public Market. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, eat your way through the city on this secret food tour. And not to worry—you can still get great beer here, too.
“Milwaukee has done a great job of creating this beautiful walkway along the Milwaukee River! There’s a great urban vibe with the development that has taken place here. The landscapes really compliment the historic streetlights which line the walks in the downtown evening times. A really lovely stroll anytime of the day! Lots of nice nearby attractions to stumble upon.” — Traveler Review of the Milwaukee RiverWalk
Perfect for: Wine lovers
While other places in the Golden State receive more national attention for their wine production, Temecula is well worth a trip for wine enthusiasts—and easily accessible from Los Angeles and San Diego. A great way to sample from the top wineries in Temecula is this all-inclusive tour, which handles all the logistics for you so all you have to do is sip and enjoy. Top-rated wineries you’ll want to save to your Trip include Wilson Creek Winery, Leoness Cellars, and Vindemia Estate Winery, where you’ll find a variety of wines, thoughtful pairings, and creative tasting formats. Want to see more of Temecula outside of the vineyards? Take in the beauty of the Temecula Valley from the air on this sunrise hot air balloon tour, and check out Old Town Temecula for some funky shops and mouth-watering eateries.
Crystal River, Florida
Perfect for: The outdoor-lovers small town getaway
Located along Central Florida’s “Nature Coast,” Crystal River is a small, funky town that conjures fond memories of Old Florida. The town is most well known for its water adventures—the surrounding spring-fed waters stay at a balmy 72 degrees year-round, so swimming in the colder months is very much a possibility. Crystal River is also famous for its friendly manatee population, as it is the only place in Florida where you can legally swim with these gentle giants in their natural habitat. Take advantage of this with this snorkeling tour, or this VIP tour via pontoon boat.
“The tour was amazing!! We were able to swim next to the manatees even though it wasn’t peak season. The guides made the activity even better. Not only do they want to give a great experience to their guests, but they also care for the wellness of the manatees. 100% recommended.” — Traveler Review of Crystal River Manatee Swim
Perfect for: The next great urban attraction
Tulsa might not be the first place you associate with world-class urban attractions, but here’s why you should reconsider. The Gathering Place, a new $465 million dollar riverfront park, was named one of TIME Magazine’s World’s 100 Greatest Places for 2019, and USA Today’s best new attraction in the United States. This riverfront jewel boasts over 100 acres of play areas, trails, gardens, and ample opportunities for water sports and cultural activities. Once you’ve seen all this dazzling park has to offer, check out some of Tulsa’s acclaimed museums like the Philbrook Museum of Art and the Gilcrease Museum.
“This was by far the best public park I have ever seen! The design is eye candy enough for adults. Beautiful design and lay out. You could take kids here and they would have as much fun as Disney and this is FREE! Amazing place, very clean and so much to do. Wish more cities invested in this type of place to gather! Seriously, it justifies a trip to Tulsa just to go to this park. A vacation destination that is FREE yet priceless.” — Traveler Review of The Gathering Place
Perfect for: The avid surfer
Surfing is a way of life in sleepy Paia, located on the north shore of Maui. This laid back locale is a quintessential surf town, filled with hippies, healthy eateries, yoga studios, artists, and of course, killer surf. Ho’okipa Beach Park is the headliner, containing four different spots, each with different wave breaks. Other local surf hotspots include Honolua Bay, Jaws (Peahi), and HA Baldwin Beach Park, a favorite among kitesurfers. When you’re not surfing, explore your surroundings on this rainforest hiking adventure, or take this day trip that spans the gorgeous coastline of Maui. Don’t leave without trying a meal at Mama’s Fish House, rated one of the top 10 fine dining restaurants in the US according to TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice Awards.
Asbury Park, New Jersey
Perfect for: The bar-hopper
With over 40 bars and an ever-lively scene, this Jersey Shore town offers a greater diversity of after-dark options than the fist-pumping club scene you might envision. The Stone Pony is one of the most iconic music venues in the US, best known as a launching pad for hometown hero Bruce Springsteen. For great cocktails, try Asbury Park Distilling, while beer lovers will love Asbury Park Brewery and Asbury Festhalle & Biergarten. Porta is a trendy pizza restaurant by day that turns into a lively club at night, and don’t miss the dog-friendly patio at Wonder Bar, home of the famous “Yappy Hour.”
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Perfect for: The art-lover
Step away from the mainland United States for one of the coolest emerging art scenes around, in Puerto Rico’s historic capital. Spend a day at Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, which gives a great lesson on Puerto Rico’s history through the lens of its artists. Be sure to check out other art attractions like Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Puerto Rico and Walter Otero Contemporary Art Gallery. The epicenter of San Juan’s art scene is the hip, gritty Santurce neighborhood, filled with murals, street art, and events, like the annual Santurce es Ley street art festival. It’s a place not to be missed for lovers of the arts.
“Visit Santurce for a taste of true Puerto Rican urban arts and culture. Walk the streets and check out the stunning murals and end at La Placita, the market that turns into a nighttime festival Thursday through Sunday. We missed the market because we arrived too late but loved the music, food and drinks of the street fest in the square. This is off the usual beaten tourist path but one of the best ways to experience the fun of this friendly island!” — Traveler Review of Santurce
Perfect for: The solo traveler
There’s a certain magic to experiencing the otherworldly landscapes of Utah as a solo traveler. The national parks here are second to none—Arches and Canyonlands are among the best in the country, and travelers recommend Dead Horse Point State Park, especially for catching a sunset. If you find yourself wanting some company, try a guided tour—check out Arches on a Jeep Wrangler with this half-day tour, or see the splendor of Canyonlands from within a raft as you float on the Colorado River. No matter how you choose to attack it, Moab is one of those bucket-list destinations that offers plenty of opportunities for awe and self-reflection, perfect for the solo traveler.
“Arches National Park is such an amazing park to behold. I drove into town in the evening and scouted it out. I then stayed the night at a hotel, woke up super early the next morning and went to the park. I arrived just before dawn and saw the sunrise while in the park. It was the perfect time to go. There was hardly anyone there so it was like I had the park all to myself. I explored and got some awesome pics of the arches when the sun rose. It was such an incredible experience. I would very much do it again (and I just might!)” — Traveler Review of Arches National Park
Taos, New Mexico
Perfect for: The skier/snowboarder
Surrounded by the rugged beauty of the Rockies, Taos is a funky, art-oriented town that also offers some world-class skiing under 300+ days of annual sunshine. Taos Ski Valley Resort is the most well-known of the area resorts, offering 110 trails catering to levels ranging from beginner to expert. Other area resorts include Red River Ski Resort, Sipapu Ski Resort, and Angel Fire Ski Resort, giving skiers/snowboarders plenty of options to cater to their individual skill levels and other preferences. When you’re not on the slopes, check out the sights and attractions of the town with this walking tour, or this small-group driving tour.