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While the classics are classics for a reason, there’s something to be said for those off-the-beaten path gems that could be the next big thing. Since we like to keep our finger on the pulse of travel, we’ve hand-picked 30 up-and-coming destinations to watch over the next 30 years—enjoy!

Zion National Park

Zion National Park, Springdale, UT

Located in Southwestern Utah, Zion National Park is home to some amazing hiking trails and beautiful vistas that beg to be shown off on your Instagram. Whether you’re there to backpack or birdwatch, Zion is the perfect destination for those that want a more active vacation or just want to unplug for a little while.

Oakland, CA

Oakland is a surprising foodie paradise, with revitalized downtown neighborhoods full of young, creative chefs. Not only that, but it’s less pricey and pretentious than its neighbor across the Bay, but just as noteworthyfor exactly those reasons—it has tons of personality, from its indie shopping streets to local art.

Marathon, TX

What this tiny West Texas town lacks in size, it makes up for in character. If you’re looking to get away from the city bustle, this unique corner of the Lone Star State and the surrounding towns are pretty much perfect. Marathon boasts incredible stargazing, offering the darkest skies in the lower 48 states. Plus, 45 minutes away is bizarre little Marfa, home to a natural light phenomenon rumored to be paranormal activity. Not to mention that weird Prada store art installation. Beyond the stars, Marathon offers some cozy farm-style lodging, horseback riding, and arguably the best farm-fresh breakfast sandwich known to man.

A lake in Bend, Oregon

Bend, OR

Located in beautiful central Oregon, Bend is a skier’s paradise in winter and hiker’s dream in summer. The small town boasts one of the best ski resorts in the country, some truly stunning hikes, a dedicated ale trail featuring local breweries, and plenty of other outdoor activities. Dubbed the “outdoor playground of the West” for a thousand good reasons, Bend is world famous for both its outdoor pursuits and pristine beauty.

Jacksonville, OR

The historic town of Jacksonville is tucked away in Southern Oregon, surrounded by beautiful mountains, rivers and lakes. It also has no shortage of antique shops and boutiques, wineries and restaurants. Jacksonville is also home to the annual Britt Festival, an outdoor amphitheater that welcomes world famous musicians each summer, and—bonus—is one of the few venues that lets you bring in your own food, wine and beer. Stay in town, catch a concert, or head out to the stunning Squaw Lake for a hike and swim. And who knows? You might even bump into Johnny Depp, Martha Stewart, or the number of other celebs who have homes there!

Orcas Island, WA

Orcas Island is the perfect mix of arts and culture, lush outdoors, scenic lakes and countless activities. Among these are whale watching (which is how the island earns its name), as well as kayaking, paddle boarding, hiking and bike riding. The island also offersplenty of dining, boutiques, and shops for visitors looking to cruise through the town.


Louisville, KY

Louisville, Kentucky might be one of the most underrated destinations in the U.S., with rich history and a thriving arts scene there’s never a shortage of things to do, eat, drink and see – and not just during the Kentucky Derby.

Grand Rapids, MI

Over the last decade, the once-quiet town of Grand Rapids has evolved into a budding craft-beer and art hub. Each fall, the town hosts ArtPrize, a festival in which art from around the world is featured across the city for people to view for free. Much of the art from previous years is purchased by the city or business owners, and can be seen throughout the city year round. The town is also known for its sustainability efforts, which are best experienced by dining and shopping at the Downtown Market or strolling through the Grand Rapids Art Museum, the world’s first LEED certified museum.

Cocoa Beach, FL

A quintessential beach town, Cocoa Beach is one of the more affordable Florida vacation destinations. It’s a great spot for families or anyone looking for an alternative to overcrowded beach cities like Miami. And speaking of Cocoa Beach’s eponymous attractions, they’re pristine, and are made all the more picturesque by the Cocoa Beach Pier, a boardwalk that stretches 800 feet over the Atlantic Ocean. Visitors of all ages will find something to enjoy between deep sea fishing, eco-tour adventures, kayak tours, airboat rides, wind and watersports, golf, shopping, dining, and beach-style nightlife. The iconic Ron Jon Surf Shop has its flagship store in Cocoa Beach, which is open 24 hours a day for those looking to stock up on summer essentials. The Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station are just a short drive away, so well-timed visitors may even have the chance to see rocket launches.

Lone Peak in Big Sky, Montana

Big Sky, MT

This destination’s name is not a misnomer. Lovers of the outdoors flock to Big Sky for the expansive views and wide-open sky. It’s also become a mecca for winter sport enthusiasts due to the 5,800 acres of terrain and four mountains. Which explains why skiers and snowboarders of all levels flock here, many of whom stay at Big Sky Mountain Resort, the largest ski resort in the country. Big Sky also offers a host of activities in the summer including fly fishing, horseback riding, rafting, hiking, biking and so much more. As if that wasn’t enough, the town serves as basecamp for Yellowstone National Park for those hoping to check out Old Faithful.

Madison, WI

Only two hours north of Chicago lies Madison Wisconsin, a popular college town which boasts an impressive selection of craft beers and Wisconsin’s famous cheese curds. Madison has also been recognized nationally as a hub for the farm-to-table movement, meaning locally sourced food is never hard to find. It’s also one of the greenest cities in America, and home to over 15,000 acres of lakes and more than 200 miles of biking and hiking trails. Perhaps more surprisingly, Madison is a top music destination, offering more rock shows per capita than any other city except Austin.

Portland, ME

Portland may be the largest city in the state of Maine, but it still maintains its small town feel. The Old Port waterfront features working fishing wharfs and converted warehouses that now house charming restaurants and shops. And the cobblestone streets and 19th-century brick buildings only add to the local aesthetic. Travelers can enjoy Maine lobster and craft beer near the Portland Harbor while watching the ships come in and out of one of the busiest ports on the East Coast.

Deadwood, South Dakota

Deadwood, SD

Deadwood, South Dakota has been called the “wildest town in the West.” History buffs and western fans will love the OldWest shootouts and reenactments on Main Street, and the opportunity to visit the final resting place of Deadwood legends Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane. Deadwood has been welcoming guests since 1876 and offers a true western experience complete with saloons and casinos. Weirdly, it was even named a top party destination thanks to a consistent pipeline of concerts, festivals, rodeos, and more.

Woodstock, NY

Woodstock, home of the legendary 1969 Woodstock music festival, is considered one of the most famous small towns in America. Nestled in the heart of the Catskills, Woodstock is not only a living memorial to some of the greatest musicians of all time, but also a cultural mecca with hole-in-the-wall art galleries, antique stores, and book shops lining the appropriately named Tinker Street downtown. Then there’s Kaaterskill Falls, a two-drop waterfall and favorite subject of the Hudson River School painters, as well as the local swimming holes like Millstream and Fawn’s Leap. Before you leave don’t forget to take a photo with Grandfather Woodstock, a friendly hippie who came to Woodstock in 1969 and never left!

San Antonio, TX

Foodies, history buffs, sports fans and adventurers alike will all enjoy San Antonio. The Alamo and the city’s 18th century colonial museums are must-see destinations, but if you want to do something a little different, consider taking a cooking class at the Culinary Institute. San Antonio also boasts several world class restaurants if you’d rather have someone else treat you to a nice meal. After you’re finished, you can walk it off along the city’s famous RiverWalk.

The night skyline of Cleveland, Ohio

Cleveland, OH

Cleveland certainly had its moment this year with the Republican National Convention taking center stage, but there is so much more about this vibrant city to see and explore. Your first stop might be the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, but where to next? Maybe you’re a thrill-seeker. If so, Cedar Point Amusement Park is certainly worth a trip. Movie buffs can also swing by the house from A Christmas Story and take a peek at the famous leg lamp.

Burlington, VT

Peace-loving Burlington is home to Ben and Jerry’s, Phish and the University of Vermont. In the summer, you can rent a sailboat, kayak, canoe or paddle board from the Community Sailing Center and spend some time enjoying Lake Champlain. So it’s probably unsurprising that Burlington is an active city, and there’s perhaps no better way to experience it than by bike. Rent a one at Local Motion, a nonprofit “promoting people-powered transportation,” and head south along the lake to Switchback Brewing Company. Travelers can also cool off with a trip to the Ben and Jerry’s factory and see where the magic happens.

Pocono Mountains, PA

The perfect destination for summer or winter, the Pocono Mountains are ideal for outdoor adventure seekers. You can ski, snowshoe, kayak, hike and even zip line in this beautiful mountain region. Better yet, it’s just a few short hours from Philadelphia and New York.

Cathedral Basilica of St Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe, New Mexico

Santa Fe, NM

Santa Fe, NM is the place to be for arts, music and culture. The city boasts 200 world-class art galleries in two square miles alone. One little known fun fact: During the New York Met Opera’s off-season, many singers perform in New Mexicoat the Santa Fe Opera, meaning it’s definitely worth a visit.

Minneapolis, MN

The theater is alive and well in Minneapolis. With some 30 theaters, this city has more seats than anywhere else in the U.S. (with the exception of New York, of course). Art lovers will also enjoy the Minneapolis Art Institute, Walker Art Center and the Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum. If bringing your kids along for a trip, check out the Science Museum of Minnesota or explore one of the 22 lakes within city limits!

Harpers Ferry, WV

Situated between the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers, Harpers Ferry is the historic site most well-known for John Brown’s raid on the Armory, and itsrole in the Civil War. Which means that during certain weekends, you can step back in time and be a part of living history. Though, if you’d rather explore the outdoors, Harpers Ferry has more than 20 miles of hiking trails that offer views of the two rivers converging. On hot summer days, try floating the river with friends and family.

The Northern Lights in Fairbanks, Alaska

Fairbanks, AK

Nicknamed “The Golden Heart City,” Fairbanks has a little something for everyone. You can visit Denali, the highest mountain peak in the U.S., learn about the city’s gold rush past, watch the North Star ballet and see the breathtaking Northern Lights. Whether visiting in the summer or winter, Fairbanks is a worth a visit for any type of traveler.

Mesa Verde, CO

If you’re a history buff then Mesa Verde National Park is the place for you. Spanish for green table, Mesa Verde was home to the Ancestral Pueblo people who lived there from AD 600 – 1300. This spectacular National Park is home to more than 5,000 archeological sites as well as several hundred cliff dwellings. It’s also just a short drive away from the fabled four corners, where you can stand in four states at the same time.

Saratoga Springs, NY

Located just north of Albany, this small town is named for its mineral springs, almost all of whichare naturally carbonated and have made the town a favorite resort destination for over 200 years. Saratoga Springs is home to the Saratoga Race Course, where visitors can bet on the horses. If arts and culture is more your speed, then definitely visit the National Museum of Dance and Hall of Fame. During the summer, the Saratoga Performing Arts Center hosts the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New York City Ballet.

Windmills over Solvang, California

Solvang, CA

Right in the heart of the Santa Ynez Valley, Solvang is a historic danish town with a true European feel. Explore town sites like the Little Mermaid Fountain, the five windmills, the giant red clog or the Round Tower. Head there in September for Danish Days and stop by one of the many authentic Danish bakeries for pastries & æbleskiver. Solvang is also just a short distance from some truly spectacular wineries, but if you’re more in the mood to walk to your beverage, then head to one of the 20 downtown tasting rooms.

Page, AZ

Page, AZ is a hidden gem located just off of the beautiful Lake Powell. There are countless destinations to explore in this area, including National Parks and Monuments, historic Navajo findings and serene lakes. Page is also a hot spot for fishing, golfing, rodeos and mountain bike races, as well as traditional Pow Wow ceremonies and Native American art shows.

Isle Royale, MI

Surrounded by Lake Superior, Isle Royale is a National Park that offers visitors a breathtaking and isolated adventure. From backpacking and hiking to scuba diving and exploring the island by tour boat, the Isle Royale is spectacular when explored by land or by sea.

An old mill in Pigeon Forge, TN

Pigeon Forge, TN

Typically, Tennessee cities like Nashville and Memphis get the glory, but the mountain town of Pigeon Forge is certainly worth a second look. Settled within the Smoky Mountains, Pigeon Forge is home to Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s version of Disneyland. In addition to the amusement park, Pigeon Forge offers visitors beautiful scenic hikes and horseback rides through the great Smoky Mountains.

Castle Lake, CA

Located in Northern California’s Trinity Mountains, the expansive, 47-acre lake lies partially within the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. This lake boasts clear waters, tons of camping and warm, wonderful weather during the summer months. Visitors can cabin or tent camp, and have access to paddle boards, paddle boats and other on-lake activities—all while admiring the stunning view of snowcapped Mount Shasta in the background. For those looking to explore beyond the lake, the breathtaking Castle Crags State Park is nearby and offers some incredible hiking.

Ste. Genevieve, MO

This scenic and charming French-influenced town is the oldest town in Missouri and a haven for rare French Colonial architecture. Visitors can visit the quaint downtown, tour one of the many internationally recognized historic homes and book a night in one of the cozy B&B’s in the area. Ste. Genevieve is also surrounded by a handful of vineyards and microbreweries, making it a perfect place for a small town getaway.

Tagged: California, City, Destinations, Family, Florida

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One thought on “30 up-and-coming destinations you need to visit now”

  1. Woodstock NY is not the home of the legendary 1969 festival. the festival took place in Bethel NY, which is about 60 miles from Woodstock.

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