The Most Exciting Travel Destination in Each U.S. Region to Visit Right Now

Read about each U.S. region’s upcoming (and sometimes surprising) standouts.

Red barn in the middle of a field om the daytime

The Hudson Valley region in New York is one of the country’s most up-and-coming destinations.

Photo by Michelle Heimerman

Sure, globe-trotting is great, but there’s plenty of inspiring travel that’s entirely passport-free. If you’re looking for some ideas to explore closer to home, we’ve got you covered: Here are five buzzy destinations, one for each of the United States’ key regions, that are worth a trip right now.

Located in Andes, Wayside Cider is a place to drink and take away bottles of locally-made cider.

Located in Andes, Wayside Cider is a place to drink and take away bottles of locally-made cider.

Photo by Michelle Heimerman

Northeast: Hudson Valley, New York

The Hamptons are over: -crowded and -priced. There’s an upstart alternative, though, with an equally sumptuous landscape, convenient transport links, and countrified landscape within an hour or so of New York City: the Hudson Valley, which has seen a jolt of energy in recent years on both sides of the river.

In the rugged Catskills on the west side of the Hudson River, little villages have appealing additions: Take Andes, for example, where small-batch cider maker Wayside has a brewery and beer garden close to vintage dealer Hasbeens & Willbees, while ceramicist Stephanie Theado lives and works from a townhouse on the main street. In Dutchess and Columbia counties to the east, noteworthy new restaurants have opened from River & Post in Staatsburg to Pretty To Think So and Kips Tavern in and around Rhinebeck.

On both sides of the Hudson, there are new hotel options, too, from the newly refurbished Eldred preserve to boutique chainlet Foster Supply, which will add the wellness-focused Hemlock Neversink on a 230-acre site in fall 2023 as well as the five-star Chatwal Lodge, a satellite of the original hotel in New York City’s Theater District.

Where to stay

The hipster hotelier Habitas took over a one-time wedding venue to create this modish spot right on the edge of the river—book a room in the main house rather than the annex for maximum charm.

How to get to the Hudson Valley

From elsewhere in the northeast, Hudson Valley is well-served by Amtrak, but if you want to fly here, consider SWF just west of Newburgh: Allegiant connects it nonstop to Orlando and Tampa year-round, with seasonal service to Savannah and Myrtle Beach.

The Tampa Bay region has a population of around three million people.

The Tampa Bay region has a population of around three million people.

Photo by Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Southeast: Central Florida

There’s more to Central Florida than Disney—though a dose of the Mouse House is still a must-do whenever you’re here. Consider a different kind of entertainment when you next head to Orlando, though, and head out to Volusia County. That quiet corner of central Florida is home to Cassadaga, a spiritualist town where the residents work as mediums or psychic healers. Check who’s offering services on any given day at the message board in the welcome center.

Over in Tampa, there’s a newfound focus on upscale hospitality: Three of the city’s best restaurants recently earned Michelin stars for the first time. There’s the Mediterranean-skewing Lilac, inside the Edition hotel, plus tasting menu–focused Japanese Koya and chef Bryce Bonsack’s Italian Rocca, where the housemade pasta is a standout. The hotel scene there is improving, too, with creative new openings—like Hotel Haya’s tribute to cigar-rolling Cuban culture.

Where to stay

The luxe lifestyle property is a 172-room site that’s part of the Water Street district—come hang on its rooftop terrace and pool deck with vine-wreathed cabanas and a scene-y vibe.

How to get to Central Florida

MCO airport has service on all major carriers that goes beyond many typical hubs: Spirit flies to Atlantic City, for instance, while Sun Country connects it with Eau Claire and Avelo has service to Dubuque. Even better, though, is the news for Floridians: Brightline’s train tracks between south Florida and MCO are completed and the operator promises that it will start welcoming riders sometime later this summer.

Fall in the city of trees with Boise River and downtown buildings

Head to the Boise River Greenbelt for scenic views along the Boise River.

Photo by Charles Knowles/Shutterstock

West: Boise, Idaho

In 2023, for the first time ever, an Idaho chef won a James Beard award: Kris Komori, who runs Kin. Moreover, it was noteworthy that all Boise-based semi-finalists this year had diverse heritage, a nod to the city’s makeup: Boise was recognized as a leading Welcoming City under the Obama administration. The new 29,000-square-foot Warehouse Food Hall (which opened last summer) has a roster of more casual spots to try, and its owners will open Hotel Renegade next year, a 122-room property that will be the city’s toniest place to crash.

Boise is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country—between 2016 and 2023, the city population grew by 25 percent, to almost three-quarters of a million. It’s easy to see why: the tree-filled, pedestrian-friendly downtown is an attractive place to idle or cycle along. Culturally, Boise’s jewel is Idaho Shakespeare. Its outstanding outdoor productions run through October. Bring a picnic to its 770-seat amphitheater to enjoy while you watch this season’s repertoire, which includes musical Natasha Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.

Where to stay

The 39-room boutique hotel, which opens in August, is a reimagining of a landmark building downtown. It was once home to the Blues Bouquet nightclub and is operated by Boise-born Cal Elliott, who earned a Michelin star at New York’s Dressler restaurant.

How to get to Boise

BOI is served by eight different airlines, with nonstop service to 25 cities, including Delta to ATL, Allegiant to LAS, and Southwest to OAK.

Las Vegas, Nevada, USA skyline over the strip at dusk.

Nearly 40 million people visited the Las Vegas area in 2022.

Photo by Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

Southwest: Las Vegas

Sin City’s endless reinventions are perennial interest-piquers. This year, two new hotels are opening later in 2023: the off-strip, 200-room Durango, with a more casual vibe (the anchor restaurants will be part of a funky food hall) and the 3,700-room Fontainebleau, a Strip-based outpost of the Miami original. Meanwhile, the food-focused Cosmopolitan continues its revamp since joining the MGM portfolio last year, with the opening of the new restaurant LPM, the ninth location for the see-and-be-seen spot that aims to bring a slice of the French Riviera to anywhere it opens.

Wynn Las Vegas faceplanted when it first opened Awakening, its Cirque du Soleil–inspired new show last fall. It didn’t hesitate to go dark for several months to retool it for a relaunch this summer; the tinkering turned a confusing dud into a surefire hit. The celebrity residences nearby continue at maximum star wattage, whether Weekends with Adele or Katy Perry’s Play. All that plus the September 2023 opening of MSG Sphere, a futuristic entertainment venue where the three, football field–size LED screens will wrap around the audience.

Where to stay

Glimpse the still-under makeover of the erstwhile Bally’s hotel, which has received a much-needed injection of cash to renovate its casino floor, turning its sportsbook location into a video arcade and adding a new steak joint, among other things.

How to get to Las Vegas

Take your pick of flights—getting to Las Vegas nonstop is one of the easiest journeys in the country. Southwest is the major carrier here, with service to everywhere from Kansas City to Nashville.

Lighthouse On A Rocky Coast by lake waters.

The Great Lakes is also one of AFAR’s Best Places to Travel in 2023 destinations.

Photo by ehrlif/Shutterstock

Midwest: The Great Lakes

Call it E-Route 66. The states that border Lake Michigan (Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Indiana) are cooperating on a massive new infrastructure project, intended to futureproof the journey around its coast. They’re working together to create a 1,100-mile circuit for EV drivers that allows them to take a trip without worrying about running out of juice; the first stretch of it has just been completed, in Wisconsin, with the rest to follow soon.

Michigan, of course, is only one of the five Great Lakes (which is one of AFAR’s 12 best places to travel in 2023). (Remember Super Heroes Must Eat Oats as a mnemonic for Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie, and Ontario; together, they form the planet’s largest freshwater system.) Cruise operators have started to recognize their appeal, with both American Queen and Viking programming voyages there to take in the resort towns that dot the shoreline, like Mackinac (say it MA-kinaw) Island on Michigan’s northernmost tip or Wisconsin’s Door County. The latter is a 75-mile peninsula that juts into Lake Michigan, a Midwestern answer to Cape Cod with more than 300 miles of shoreline filled with gorgeous beaches.

Where to stay

If you’re not cruising around on water or by road, consider a few days at the aptly named Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, a wedding cake–like building dating back to the 1880s with an enormous, idle-ready porch and a throwback glamour.

How to get to the Great Lakes

There are several gateway cities for this region, but Chicago may be the most well-connected, with not one but two airports and nonstop service to most cities across the country. Don’t overlook MKE, though, which has low-cost service on the likes of Southwest and Sun Country to such cities as Phoenix and Denver.

British-born, New York–based Mark Ellwood has lived out of a suitcase for most of his life. He is editor-at-large for luxury bible Robb Report and columnist for Bloomberg Luxury. Recent stories have led him to hang out with China’s trendsetters in Chengdu and learn fireside raps from cowboy poets in Wyoming.
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