The 50 Best Places to Travel in 2021 – Preserve Sporting Club & Residences
For TRAVEL + LEISURE website, Rhode Island and The Preserve Sporting Club & Residences is among the 50 Best Places to Travel in 2021,
When the time comes to travel again, these destinations — all right in your own backyard — are the ones to visit next.
Even for the compulsive jetsetters among us, it’s a simple truth that most travel stories are aspirational in the best of times. There are too many incredible places to see, not enough vacation days, and sometimes we all have to content ourselves with scrawling another spot on the bucket list and hoping the stars align.
But this year, as we all sat at home and watched the world come to a halt, “aspirational” took on new meaning. When restrictions relaxed this summer, the familiar wanderlust crept back in. With even the most straightforward international getaways ruled out, and many travelers still hesitant to hop on a plane, even simple trips — scenic drives, camping weekends, staycations across town — suddenly felt novel and luxurious.
With the first vaccines now rolling out, it seems the end of our long international nightmare is finally (finally!) in sight. In anticipation of that moment, we’ve once again compiled our annual list of the best places to travel in the coming year — with one twist. In honor of our revived appreciation for the discoveries to be made in our own backyards, this year’s list features 50 dynamic, of-the-moment destinations — all right here in the United States.
Some spots on the list ahead are newly blossoming thanks to hotel or infrastructure developments or revamped cultural attractions. Others caught on this summer, as social distancing made empty expanses of wilderness more compelling than ever and we all looked for new wells of charm in our own home states. What they all have in common is that singularity that makes a destination memorable — the sense that this place has something to offer that you won’t find anywhere else in the world.
Ahead, Travel + Leisure‘s 50 best places to travel in 2021, listed in alphabetical order.
38. Rhode Island
Known for its Colonial seaside towns and Gilded Age mansions, Rhode Island is a destination steeped in history. But it’s become a modern hot spot recently with the openings of several new properties. The Wayfinder Hotel in Newport, created by a group of locals, touts its anti-nautical design vibe — visit the on-site restaurant, Nomi Park, for traditional New England fare with a twist. And the past blends with the present at Providence’s new hotel, the Beatrice, once the 1887 Exchange Building. Now, it’s a 47-room boutique property within walking distance of the university city’s buzzing downtown. And there are even options for outdoor enthusiasts thanks to the opening of the 3,500-acre Preserve Sporting Club & Residences in Richmond, from the team behind Ocean House. The one-of-a-kind wilderness retreat features an 18-hole golf course, zip line, mountain biking, rock climbing, kayaking, archery, and more. The pint-size state is having such a moment, luxury travel company Black Tomato even included a stop at the Vanderbilt in Newport on a New England road trip itinerary launched as part of its curated Take the Open Road with Auberge and Black Tomato collection. Of course, the classic experiences are just as appealing: You can’t leave the Ocean State without making a pilgrimage to try the epic Sunday brunch at Castle Hill Inn, overlooking Narragansett Bay. —Jordi Lippe-McGraw
1. Alaska’s Coast
In the midst of the pandemic, Alaska’s entire May to September cruise season was cancelled in 2020. That left some 1.3 million travelers unable to board ships to experience thunderously calving glaciers, frolicking humpback whales, lively gold rush towns, and fascinating Alaska Native arts scenes. Tourism providers missed serious income. Cruise lines and local officials express muted optimism about 2021, which may be the best year to see Alaska given that cruise ships are unlikely to sail full and coastal towns won’t have their typical crowds even post-vaccine rollout. Or skip the civilization part: Vast national parks such as Glacier Bay, Misty Fjords, and Kenai Fjords are best reached by boat. Small ship soft-adventure lines such as UnCruise Adventures and Lindblad Expeditions — and ultra-luxurious Seabourn with its zodiac and kayak exploration program on the 450-passenger Seabourn Odyssey — have one-week itineraries that spend most of their time in the wild. For more privacy, rent the six-passenger, 78-foot Sea Mist for a luxury yachting experience in Prince William Sound, home to more active tidewater glaciers than anywhere else in the world. — Fran Golden
2. Astoria, Oregon
Goonies never say die, and neither does the nostalgia of visiting Astoria, the northwestern Oregon town at the mouth of the Columbia River where the ’80s cult classic film was shot. The oldest American settlement in the West, this charming seaside town evokes a simpler time with its colorful Victorian houses and treasure-filled antique shops. Around these parts, freshness matters only for fish and beer. A new mobile passport program by the North Coast Craft Beer Trail ensures drinkers find their way to both big names like Fort George Brewery — famous for its IPAs — and smaller spots like the 20-barrel Buoy Beer, built in a former fish cannery right on the river. It’s one of many old cannery sites that have found new lives here, most notably the boutique Cannery Pier Hotel, where new ownership plans a February unveiling of renovations to its spa — famed for the Finnish sauna and water-view hot tub. Though the town made its name on tinned fish, Astoria now thrives on the direct connection to fresh seafood at places like South Bay Wild Fish House, from the family behind a fishing vessel of the same name. At their restaurant, sustainably caught Dungeness crab, Oregon pink shrimp, black cod, and more goes direct from boat to bánh mì. — Naomi Tomky
3. The Berkshires
City-dwellers have been visiting this region of gently rolling hills and charmingly sedate towns in Western Massachusetts since the 19th century, but a welcome boost of youthful energy arrived with the 2018 opening of the design-forward hotel Tourists in North Adams and, last year, the launch of Miraval Berkshires, the third location of the luxe wellness resort. While summer is still the most popular season, thanks in part to the beloved classical music venue Tanglewood and dance center Jacob’s Pillow, there are still plenty of opportunities for social distancing, from the enormous exhibition spaces at the contemporary art museum Mass Moca, to the pastoral acres surrounding the Clark Art Institute (home to the Institute’s first-ever outdoor exhibition, Ground/work, through October 2021), to a hike up Mount Greylock or Monument Mountain, to a meal at Cantina 229, a restaurant set on a farm that offers outdoor seating in warmer months. Mooncloud, a new bar in Great Barrington, is riding out the pandemic with a slate of to-go meals and cocktail kits. Tuck in for the night at the peaceful but chic Inn at Kenmore Hall, a bed and breakfast in a classical Georgian estate. —Peter Terzian