After a devastating year starring COVID-19 and the quick churn out of three miracle vaccines, leisure travel finally seems to be on the agenda again for Americans, (per The New York Times). If we didn’t all live through quarantine, it would almost be hard to fathom that this beloved pastime, which generated as much as $124.6 billion in tax revenue in 2019 (via U.S. Travel Association), has been halted for this long. However, we seem to be approaching the light at the end of the tunnel as the Centers for Disease Control finally gave the OK for traveling both domestically and abroad, and more Americans get inoculated against the virus.
On that positive note, we have compiled a list of some United States-based and international destinations we hope to visit in 2021. We use the word “hope,” as some of the international locations are contingent on their country’s respective rules and regulations. Still, nothing will deter our newfound optimism for jumping on an airplane and getting our passports stamped once more.
California's Wine Valley
Number one on our list for domestic travel is the ever-beloved California Wine Valley (a.k.a. Napa Valley). This wine-lovers destination, located just 50 miles north of San Francisco, hosted more than 375 vineyards (via Visit Napa Valley) before it faced its worst wildfire in 2020 — a blaze that ravaged numerous townships, vineyards, and restaurants, per National Geographic.
Since then, however, the community has been on a mission to rebuild and once again reestablish itself as America’s premium wine region. One such way they’re accomplishing this is with a new Four Seasons resort due to open mid-2021, which their website is calling “a one-of-a-kind California wine-country resort set within a world-class vineyard.”
If you’re looking for a unique adventure without leaving the country, then the Land of Enchantment is the place for you. New Mexico offers gorgeous desert landscapes, stunning snowcapped mountains, relaxing hot springs, and plenty of ancient national monuments, such as the Aztec Ruins (located in Aztec), Bandelier (located in Los Alamos), and Capulin Volcano (located in Capulin), via National Park Service.
If you’re into culture, New Mexico is also an interesting melting pot of European American, Native American, and Mexican heritage. And if that’s not enough to convince you, just think about how many likes a photo of a herd of bison set against vibrant scenery would get on your Instagram page.
If you’re in the mood to go somewhere foreign that’s not terribly far, then perhaps Costa Rica is the destination for you in 2021. This lush Central American country is full of exciting things to do, from flying over volcanoes to stomping through jungles.
If you’re feeling especially adventurous, you can trail through Costa Rica’s ecologically-diverse rain forests, where you can observe the wildlife in their natural habitat. Or maybe you want to take it easy and work on your downward-facing dog on one of the many beautiful beaches. Costa Rica spans gorgeous coastlines on both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean — the choice is yours! Don’t forget to soak up some history at some of the cultural institutions, like the Pre-Columbian Gold Museum (via Costa Rica Information).
Another international destination that is nearby (just four short hours away from JFK airport) is Iceland, otherwise known as the Land of Fire and Ice. This strikingly beautiful country affords travelers the opportunity to explore thousand-year-old ice caves, come up close and personal with active volcanoes, and bathe in geothermal lagoons, such as The Blue Lagoon. The country’s capital, Reykjavík, also hosts some of the most interesting architecture in the world (take a look at the world-famous Lutheran church, Hallgrímskirkja, which is inspired by Icelandic culture).
Other popular activities in Iceland include watching the Northern Lights (a.k.a. the Aurora Borealis), visiting one of the many majestic waterfalls, and checking out the geysers (which I can confirm are super cool!).
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