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Where to Go in 2013

The Best U.S. Destinations to Visit in 2013


At the end of each year, the major travel publications, such as Lonely Planet, Condé Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, and Frommer's, put out a list of the best places to visit the following year. Suggestions are based on budget, events, and historic anniversaries, to name a few factors.

Southern cities topped many of the lists this year. The following list of the best places to go in the USA in 2013 is compiled from a selection of the travel suggestions from the major publications, as well as a few of my own. Review the list for travel inspiration and start planning your trip now.

Note that destinations are listed in no particular order.

Links to "Best of 2013" Lists

Louisville, Kentucky

Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville, Kentucky
Getty Images
Louisville, home of bourbon, basketball, baseball bats, and best horse race in the world, topped Lonely Planet's list of U.S. destinations for 2013. Lonely Planet cites Louisville's artsy neighborhoods full of new restaurants and antique shops as one reason to check out this vibrant city. If you plan to go, check out the listings on Louisville.com and Eater Louisville.

Book your trip now


Guitars and banjos on display at the Museum of Country Music in Nashville
Flickr user pepsiline
Two of the top music cities in the USA made the 2013 must-see lists. Condé Nast Traveler chose Nashville for its list of U.S. destinations both because of its music scene, which these days includes much more than country & western tunes, and its Haute Southern food scene. Meanwhile, National Geographic Traveler lists Memphis for its growing roster of grassroots projects, its world-famous barbecue, and the 4,500-acre Shelby Farms Park, one of the largest urban parks in the nation. Of course, both cities are also on the Elvis Presley Trail, reason enough for many music lovers to book a trip.

Book Your Trip to Nashville or Memphis

San Francisco

San Francisco Cable Car
William Storage, via Getty Images
San Francisco is a perennial favorite among travelers in the U.S., but Lonely Planet added SF to its Top 10 Cities in the World for 2013 because it will host the 34th America's Cup. If you've always wanted to see a regatta, there couldn't be a better backdrop than the San Francisco Bay. Of course, beyond sailing, the Bay Area offers some of the best restaurants in the world.

Book Your Trip Now

Washington State

Seattle Cityscape
Philip Kramer / Getty Images
Lonely Planet chose Washington's San Juan Islands - the "Gourmet Archipelago" - for its list, while Frommer's selected the state's biggest city, Seattle, as a must-visit destination for 2013. In 2012, Washington became one of two states (the other is Colorado) to legalize marijuana for recreational use, so these relaxed laws are seen as a possible boon to tourism (and, quite possibly, travel deals). But 2013 is also the centennial of the Evergreen State's state park system, which will mean a host of events for outdoor enthusiasts.

Book your trip now


Rocky Mountains in Colorado
Doug Berry via Getty Images
Like Washington State, Colorado expects to see greater tourism numbers thanks to the relaxation of marijuana laws in the state. Arthur Frommer expects travelers to flock to Denver in higher numbers, but the rest of the state stands to see more visitors in its world-famous ski resorts and national parks. The Rocky Mountain State boasts five national parks, one of which - Mesa Verde - is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Colorado is also home to America's newest National Monument at Chimney Rock.

Book Your Trip Now

Civil War Sites

Manassas Civil War cannon
Flickr user Mr. T in DC
Last year, I listed War of 1812 Sites as some must-visit destinations for history buffs. Even more appealing to those interested in military history are the battlegrounds and memorials related to the Civil War. Since 2011, the U.S. has been commemorating the 150th anniversary of the War Between the States. This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, making Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and nearby Pittsburgh a hotspot for Civil War tourism. Visit the Gettysburg 150 website for more details on events to mark the anniversary.

Book your Gettysburg hotel now

Minneapolis/St. Paul

Minneapolis Skyline
© Joe Sohm via Getty Images
Travel + Leisure touts Minneapolis' new spate of notable Scandinavian flavored restaurants as the reason it chose the city for its 2013 list. Meanwhile, Lonely Planet selected the Twin Cities for its bike-friendliness (it ranked second on America's Best Biking Cities list from Bicycling Magazine) and its entertainment options, ranging from the Twin Cities Jazz Festival to Prairie Home Companion, the public radio mainstay that is performed live in the Fitzgerald Theater when its not traveling to auditoriums around the USA.

Book your trip now

New Orleans

Jester at Mardi Gras World in New Orleans
Blaine Kern Mardi Gras World/neworleansonline.com
After Hurricane Katrina and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, tourism to New Orleans took a hit. But travel experts from Condé Nast Traveler as well as New Orleans boosters are saying that the Big Easy is back and better than ever. In 2013, New Orleans will party harder than it has in a while, as it will be host of the 2013 Super Bowl. Follow that up with Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, and some of the USA's most unique cuisine and you've got a rocking top destination for 2013.

Book Your Trip Now

St. Augustine, Florida

Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, Florida
Getty Images
Old Florida is becoming harder to find, which is one reason National Geographic is urging travelers to check out St. Augustine in 2013. This year marks the 500th anniversary of the city's "discovery" by Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de León. In addition to St. Augustine's historic sights, which include the impressive Spanish fort Castillo de San Marco, the city is home to the Lightner Museum, which has an impressive array of objects from the Gilded Age. St. Augustine lies on Florida's Atlantic Coast, roughly equidistant from Jacksonville and Daytona Beach, which means it has its share of lovely, white sand beaches but with fewer tourists.

Book Your Trip Now

Hudson Valley

Sleepy Hollow Footbridge in the Hudson River Valley
Getty Images
For the past few years, a number of my friends from New York City have been extolling the virtues of weekend escapes to the Hudson Valley. National Geographic Traveler suggests that the rest of the country check out this New York region in 2013. Dubbed by NatGeo as the "original New York art show," the Hudson Valley has a strong locavore dining scene, thanks to the nearby Culinary Institute of America, and an impressive artistic legacy, which you can encounter on the Hudson River School Art Trail.
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