The Best Places To Travel In The U.S. In 2023, According To The Experts
For the past three years, with borders closed around the globe, U.S. travel has provided Americans with much-needed solace—a tonic during a time of uncertainty and fear. We rediscovered national parks, we explored this country’s hidden shores and we found new appreciation for America’s wide open spaces.
Despite the fact that many international countries have reopened to travelers, domestic travel remains strong, according to the U.S. Travel Association—proving that there’s still a lot to discover close to home.
So what are the best places to travel right now? Every year, I round up the best places to visit in America. Once again, I tapped into leading women travel experts and influencers to find out their favorite places to travel in the U.S. in 2023. I also opened my own little black book to reveal the destinations that are on my radar.
This year, the top choices for where to go span the country from coast to coast, ranging from seaside escapes to mountain hideaways to urban hot spots, with some surprises thrown in along the way. Compare these choices to 2022’s list of the best places to travel in America, and it’s clear that the U.S. is the travel gift that keeps on giving.
Where to Go: South County, Rhode Island
Chosen By: Nneya Richards is a speaker and travel blogger at ’N A Perfect World, a curated intersection of travel, food, fashion and geopolitics inspired by the global-citizen lifestyle of the millennial. Richards aims to empower young people, especially those of color, to travel, as she believes it is through exploring the world that we will bridge cultural gaps and misunderstandings.
Why: “It’s just over three hours away from NYC on a fast, comfortable Amtrak ride. But shhh… don’t tell the New Yorkers,” says Nneya Richards. “During the summer season, getting to South County, Rhode Island is easier than getting to the Hamptons. And you’re going to want to head here all year round.”
South County, Rhode Island is on the list for 2023, thanks to all its secret diversions and some not-so secret celebrity fans. “You may know the town of Watch Hill from Taylor Swift’s Last Great American Dynasty,” says Richards. “Or maybe it’s because Watch Hill is home to the oldest Flying Horse carousel in the country, dating back to 1754.”
Also going for South County: “There’s something for everyone,” says Richards. “There are laidback surf town vibes in places like Narragansett, and you’ll find the best seafood in the country at restaurants like Matunuck Oyster Bar, and cuisine that could easily be just at home in a hotspot in Mexico City at Dalia, a waterfront Mexican restaurant at Ocean House.”
There’s plenty of hotel news in South County, including The Cottage Collection (new accommodations from the acclaimed by Ocean House), The General Stanton Inn (an historic property in Charlestown that’s reopening in May) and Surf Shack Bed & Breakfast (a funky inn coming in late 2023 in Narragansett).
Other new exciting spots include Double Barrel Steak by David Burke, which recently debuted at The Preserve Sporting Club & Residences and Seaside Shadows ghost tours in Westerly (new since last fall). And coming in 2024: Charleston’s Ninigret Park will be home to new Troll works by the famed Danish artist Thomas Dambo.
Best of all: “It’s one of those pockets of peace that the rugged coastlines of the Atlantic can do so well,” says Richards. “And the sunrises and sunsets are just marvelous.”
Where to Go: Phoenix, ArizonaChosen By: Lucee Santini is a travel writer and lifestyle blogger who has contributed to Huffington Post, SheBuysTravels and Newsbreak and is the chief editor and writer for MomJunky.com. She shares her adventures and tips on Instagram @momjunky.com and @familytraveldestinations.
Why: Phoenix made headlines recently as the host of Superbowl LVII, the kickoff location of Taylor Swift’s tour and the home of the MLB Spring Training. But there’s so much to experience in Greater Phoenix in 2023—one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S.—not to mention the natural beauty that made it a must-visit destination in the first place. “The Valley of the Sun is known for sunny weather all year around, beautiful hikes and scenic landscapes,” says Lucee Santini, who is a big fan of spots like the Desert Botanical Garden, a 144-acre oasis in the middle of the desert.
The city is in the midst of a $23 million redesign of South Mountain Park and Preserve—America’s biggest urban park—that will culminate with the park’s 100th anniversary in 2024. “Stay at WorldMark Phoenix – South Mountain Preserve,” says Santini. “It’s the perfect home base to explore nearby trails and catch an amazing show or exhibition.”
Over the next year, Phoenix will see the opening of several major resorts, including Moxy Phoenix Downtown (set in a 1920’s Luhrs building), The Ritz-Carlton Paradise Valley, The Palmeraie (overlooking Camelback Mountain) and the $1 billion VAI (complete with white-sand beaches, a 52,000-square-foot party island and the Mattel Adventure Park).
Some iconic properties are also getting overhauled. The Wigwam, an historic resort with luxury casitas and suites in the West Valley, will undergo a comprehensive renovation in 2023. Look for two expansive swimming pools, bocce and tennis courts, as well as an enhanced golf club with 54 holes of championship golf including two courses designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. Meanwhile, JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge Resort & Spa recently debuted an $80 million transformation and will soon be unveiling a reimagined AquaRidge Water Park, as well as a new Pan-Asian restaurant concept, Kembara.
The Phoenix metropolitan area’s food and wine scene is also exploding, with exciting entries like Chic Chef 77 (Arizona’s first Black-owned wine bar from celebrity chef Nik Fields) and Chilte (Mexican street food at the Grand Avenue Arts District’s new Egyptian Motor Hotel). The drinks scene is also making global headlines, thanks to trend-defining spots like Platform 18 and UnderTow, which have established a new brand of cocktail theater.
Where to Go: Central Coast, CaliforniaChosen By: Molly O’Brien is a freelance journalist.
Why: The Central Coast of California—stretching from Santa Barbara to San Luis Obispo—is undergoing a renaissance, with new and renovated hotels, expanded wine offerings and a burgeoning culinary scene, not to mention a unique vibe. “Something special just opens up inside of you when you’re on the Central Coast,” says Molly O’Brien. “Perhaps it’s the warmth of the community that welcomes you, or the abundance of open space to explore, or maybe it’s the freshness of the ingredients used in the local dining and drinks scene—you can feel yourself almost instantly relax and let go of your stresses.”
In Santa Barbara—which is also known as America’s very own Riviera—the new tech-driven boutique hotel, Drift Santa Barbara, officially opened its doors in early 2023 in a restored 1920s building, offering contactless check-in, a third-wave coffee shop and eatery (Dawn) and a craft bar (Dusk) inspired by Mexican heritage. The Steward, a new Tribute Portfolio Marriott Hotel, is set to make its debut in May. Set on nearly five acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, this all-suite boutique hotel has a deep commitment to sustainability, from eliminating single-use plastics to using staff uniforms made of vegan materials.
The area’s art and food scene is also buzzing. The former Bellosguardo estate will open to the public for the first time later in 2023, while the Urban Wine Trail is welcoming numerous new tasting rooms, including La Lieff Wines and Frequency Wine Co. Among Santa Barbara’s culinary newcomers are the Rosewood Miramar Beach’s AMA restaurant (which serves authentic Japanese sushi in a beautiful setting) and Augie’s tequila bar and restaurant (which features the largest selection of tequilas and mezcals on the West Coast, including local agave spirits).
There’s lots of other exciting news in 2023 throughout the Central Coast—from the latest American Viticultural Area, which is growing in size, to new restaurants like the Italian-inspired Cielo (opening in Atascadero) and Antigua Brewing Company (set to open in San Luis Obispo). The wine-tasting destination of Paso Robles now boasts a new Michelin star at Six Test Kitchen and the town will soon be home to two Nomada Hotel Group properties: the Farmhouse and River Lodge, offering easy access to the quaint downtown area. What’s old is also new: In the once forgotten frontier town of Pozo, the Nomada Hotel Group is transforming the iconic Pozo Saloon into a modern day travel escape with Airstreams, glamping tents, RV hookups for sprinter vans, outdoor soaking tubs and a distillery.
The Best Places To Travel In The U.S. In 2023, According To The ExpertsSOURCE: Forbes