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10 Places I’m Dying To Visit In 2021
WELL. Last year certainly didn’t go as planned. 2020 has a lot to answer for.
And so much has changed, when it comes to travel. But it’s that time of year again…I usually love preparing this post, because it gets me daydreaming and hardcore planning for the coming months, and getting excited about epic adventures. Like many of you, I have missed exploring new places SO MUCH. I’ll be honest though, I’m a little less excited this year.
This was my last trip a few weeks before everything closed down and it was absolutely idyllic…
Where to travel in 2021
In some ways, it feels like I could just re-post last year’s article and call it a day…grand plans were put on hold as fear over COVID played havoc with the entire world, and the global travel industry especially. And it still is. So while I’d love to just “re-up” on my 2020 list, I sadly have to acknowledge that heavy international travel may not be in the cards for a bit.
Because of that, I’ve left a few of my perpetual entries on here (e.g. the Greek islands, which were almost a reality in 2020 before COVID), but have also tailored parts of the list to the realities of a coronavirus world. You can see the 2017 list, 2018 list, 2019 list, and 2020 list (HA!) if you’re interested as well (or peek into the future at 2022’s and 2023’s lists).
With everything going on and all the uncertainty around travel, I’m approaching this a bit differently this year. The first five destinations on the list are focused more domestically for U.S., which is likely going to be more realistic for many in at least the first half of the year. Then the second five are some internationally that I’m DYING to visit…provided I don’t have to wear a mask for 12+ hours of transit.
So here are ten places I’d recommend to fuel your wanderlust dreams. Are any of these on your list?
1. Sonoma Coast, California
Because I’ve been able to explore Sonoma Coast once or twice, *I’m* actually dying to visit the (overtouristed) Carmel/Big Sur/Monterey area just because I haven’t been yet. But if YOU haven’t already been then Sonoma Coast definitely needs to be in your 2021 travel destinations.
Why?? Ummmm let me see…gorgeous powerful waves crashing against dramatic cliffs. Hundreds of wineries at your disposal. Hiking along the coast or inland in the redwood forests. A crazy good foodie (and craft beer) scene. Beautiful sunsets. And far fewer tourists than better-known nearby Napa Valley, despite being an even easier drive from San Francisco.
Have I convinced you yet??
Check out my deep-dive guide to Sonoma County
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2. New Mexico
I have no idea how New Mexico managed to fly under my radar for so many years, and then recently managed to dig into my brain so quickly. I’m kind of obsessed with the idea of doing a lovely solo road trip through various parts of the state, from the dark sky stargazing to White Sands National Park to quirky Albuquerque and cute Taos.
As soon as they drop the 14-day quarantine requirement this is toward the top of my list for a visit!
3. Asheville, North Carolina
I visited Asheville once, very briefly and during a bitter cold snap (actual high temps 16 F, with wind chills much lower). I still managed to have a great time and in particular explore the food and beer scene. But ever since then I’ve wanted a “re-do” on my visit during better weather so I can really get a feel for the area.
Situated in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, the area around Asheville boasts tons of hiking and waterfalls, as well as amazing fall foliage. The town itself has a thriving arts community, great restaurants, tons of craft breweries, lovely sunsets, and as a bonus is close to the famous Biltmore Estate.
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4. Upper Peninsula, Michigan
Honestly, “the UP” was never on my radar at all until this year. No idea why, except that living in Atlanta for so long, Michigan was never really something I ever thought about. But a combination of living in Louisville and everyone doing big roadtrips during COVID, plus having a number of Chicago friends who frequent the area, has made me see how awesome it is.
From interesting and diverse landscapes (including legit beach, with the Great Lakes), to quite the foodie and beer scene, to quaint little towns, I get the sense you could explore this area several times and just barely have scratched the surface. Each season has something a little different to offer, and it’s definitely on my list of where to travel in 2021.
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5. Culebra, Puerto Rico
Honestly Puerto Rico PERIOD. I love it so much, and haven’t been in so long! I’ve done two separate adventures there, once based in San Juan and once in Rincon, but the last was in 2013 so I’m long overdue. You’ll love anywhere you choose, but I’m interested in exploring Culebra and Vieques, which are a bit harder to get to.
Come for the beautiful beaches and stay for the warm people, delicious food, sparkling bioluminescent bays, and lush rainforest.
Okay, let’s move on to international delights…
6. Portugal’s Algarve Coast
SIGH. I want to visit the Algarve and roadtrip along Portugal’s coast sooooo bad! I’m totally in love with Portugal and want to explore it more. Lisbon is one of my all-time favorite cities, but it’s the only part of Portugal I’ve been able to see so far.
And the gorgeous Algarve Coast in the south of Portugal is at the top of the list, though I definitely want to sample the delights of Porto and the Douro Valley as well. I love the towering cliffs, turquoise waters, sun, sand, and super chill look of the place!
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7. Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel Aviv was one of the biggest surprises on my amazing 7-day Israel and Jordan adventure a few years ago. From its turquoise beach and energetic vibe, its vibrant street art, blend of modern and history, and central location for exploring more of Israel, I fell in love with Tel Aviv and Old Jaffa in a very short amount of time.
I’ve been dying for a return trip to Israel and Jordan ever since, because this part of the world is simply magical.
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8. Greek islands
I’m a bit disappointed in myself for not making this a reality yet, because it’s a perennial entry on the list. I’m fascinated by the aquamarine water, whitewashed buildings, sailing opportunities, bright blue roofs, and pink flowers of Greece’s islands.
I think one of the things we’ll see in the next year or two is that, since traveling will be more of a hassle than ever before, people are realizing that they may as well make it WORTH IT…splurge on a special trip or amazing experience, Sailing around the Greek islands and lounging on various beaches would definitely make that list for me.
I finally made it to Santorini and Naxos!!
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9. Lofoten Islands, Norway
It’s no secret that I’m a little in love with Norway, having done January trips to both Tromso and Bergen over the years. It’s a place that really seems mythical, and you can almost picture Thor walking the earth, or Viking ships coming into view. For a few years now, though, the tiny and remote Lofoten Islands have been calling my name.
These islands are a lot more known than they used to be, so have sadly been seeing a lot more tourists. But you can see it’s for good reason! Those iconic red buildings, dramatic coastlines and stunning vistas, and lots of outdoor activities…though the photo below is a bit misleading because it’s not super common to be able to see the Northern Lights, due to weather and cloud cover.
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10. Republic of Georgia
I’m just kind of…fascinated by this part of the world, and dying to visit for myself. The amount of history and culture is staggering, and it kind of quietly flies under the radar despite being a melting pot of ethnicities and cultures, having amazing food and wine, and beautiful Carpathian Mountains and Black Sea scenery.
Here’s just a bit of info on Georgia to whet your appetite…it’s definitely one of my dream 2021 travel destinations.
So where do I want to go this year?? I mean, given how 2020 went, one of my answers is “LOL literally *anywhere*”! But hopefully this post gave you some ideas on where to travel in 2021 more close to home, as well as some inspiration for when we can begin venturing further afield again.
So now I’ve got to start booking trips…I’m being a bit cautious to see how the wind blows on cancellation policies. But I definitely plan on traveling. Where is on your “must” list for where to travel in 2021?? Let me know in the comments!
Some practical travel tips to go with your inspiration:
- The Ultimate Gift Guide for the Traveler in Your Life
- 11 Of My Best Travel Tips for ANY Trip
- Travel FAQ: Things You Might Not Know About Your Credit Card
- A Travel Bucket List for Your 30’s
- My Ultimate Airplane Reads: The Best Romance and Urban Fantasy Series
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