50 Best Places to Travel in 2023

Revenge travelers rejoice – we’ve got just the bucket list for you! From Madagascar to Mississippi, our 2023 list of places to travel highlights unexpected hidden gems and emerging destinations we think are poised to pop. And we bet you haven’t yet heard of half of them … 

If three years of pent-up wanderlust has you yearning to venture further – and travel bolder – you’ll love our picks for the world’s best destinations to visit in 2023. 

At Travel Lemming, our team of dozens of travel experts shares practical travel tips and useful guides to some of the best destinations around the USA and the world

At the end of each year, we pool our knowledge to collectively curate a mega-list of the 50 places we think are most worth our readers’ attention in the coming year. To learn more, see our methodology section below. You can also browse our 2022 places to travel list.

Our 2023 list is definitely our boldest yet. 

Our top 10 picks dare you to push your boundaries next year with far flung destinations like Vanuatu, Uzbekistan, Kosovo, and Bhutan. But if you prefer something a little closer to home, we’ve got you covered with some hidden gems that have been sitting under your nose this whole time – including our number one pick this year, an unheralded town right here in the United States …

Personalize your 2023 bucket list by using our handy filter buttons to narrow down the list to destinations that match the regions of the world and times of year that you want to travel. 

To reset the list, click “Clear All Filters.”

And remember to share this list with your friends and bookmark it for later!

Show me only these regions (select all that apply):

Show me only places to visit in these months (select all that apply):

50 Best Places to Travel in 2023

1. Lafayette, Louisiana

A family enjoying their water activity in Lafayette
(Photo: LafayetteTravel.com)

Take in the aromas of Creole cuisine and the rhythm of Cajun music while wandering this Southern city’s historic streets. 

New Orleans certainly lands on many destination bucket lists, but if you prefer to avoid crowds, opt for Lafayette. Nicknamed the “Happiest City in America,” this Southern community quakes with activities and attractions. Fall in love with the tastes of Louisiana, including boudin, boiled spicy crawfish, gumbo, and étouffée. 

The town proudly lives up to the state’s mantra laissez les bon temps rouler,” or “let the good times roll.” On any night in downtown Lafayette, you can dance to Cajun and Zydeco music performed live by local artists. Visit anytime, as there’s no shortage of food and music festivals happening throughout the year.

📸 Things to Do: Mardi Gras, Festivals Acadiens et Creole, Take a Cajun food tour, Enjoy outdoor recreation and wildlife, Paddle the Vermilion Voyage
🗺️ Places to Visit: Vermilionville, University of Louisiana, St. John’s Cathedral Church, Cajun Country Dancehalls, Historic Lafayette
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: March-May, September-November 

Lana Sampa, Travel Lemming Writer

📚 Related Guides: Places to Visit in Louisiana

2. Bhutan

View of the Tigers Nest Monastery from afar

Discover ancient Buddhist culture and pristine landscapes in one of the world’s least-touristed nations.

Bhutan, a tiny Himalayan country wedged between China and India, is a special place. With breathtaking scenery and the freshest air you’ll ever inhale, the Bhutanese take environmental conservation seriously – not by law, but by choice. They strive to keep their country “clean and green,” and they’ve succeeded.

The entire nation looks like a postcard, with Buddhist monasteries decorating its dramatic mountains and valleys. You may wonder how a place like this can exist, but Bhutan has embraced a “High Value, Low Impact” policy for visitors. The Government of Bhutan requires a sustainable development fee of $200 USD per visitor per day to enjoy this pristine paradise. Is it worth it? We’ll leave that for you to find out.

📸 Things to Do: Climb to Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Attend a festival, Punakha Suspension Bridge, Trek the Trans Bhutan Trail
🗺️ Places to Visit: Thimphu, Paro, Bumthang
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: March- May, September-November

Rachel Davey, Very Hungry Nomads

3. Utila, Honduras

Travel Lemming writer Katie posing for a photo while scuba diving in Utila
Travel Lemming writer Katie Neufeld enjoying a dive through the extensive reefs

Explore magnificent coral reefs and embrace island time in this lesser-known Caribbean escape.

Many people have heard of Roatán, a popular diving destination and cruise port off the coast of Honduras. But just west lies the lesser-known island of Utila, home to more than 80 astounding dive sites. Many resorts and dive centers on this island cater to scuba divers and offer all-inclusive, week-long packages. 

Backpackers and beachgoers will also love this Caribbean escape. White sands, waterfront bars, and vivid sunsets suggest a leisurely pace. Those seeking a relaxing getaway will have no issue adjusting to island time in Utila.

📸 Things to Do: Get scuba certified, Go snorkeling, Relax on the beach
🗺️ Places to Visit: Bando Beach, Pumpkin Hill, Neptune’s Beach Bar
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: April-June

Katie Neufeld, Travel Lemming Writer

4. Île Sainte-Marie, Madagascar

View of a boat on a beach in Ile Sainte Marie
Ile Sainte Marie, Madagascar

Choose your own adventure on this Indian Ocean isle, a beacon that draws thrill seekers, outdoor lovers, and beachgoers alike. 

Few places offer such diversity as Madagascar. Île Sainte-Marie teems with raw nature, rugged coastline, and an endless variety of things to do. A destination that offers excitement and relaxation, how you spend your days is entirely up to you. Here you’ll find incredible hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, national parks—and of course, amazing beaches, too. 

Found off Madagascar’s east coast, this massive island is an excellent choice for a beach getaway. Imagine wooden bungalows, the turquoise Indian Ocean lapping at your doorstep, sunshine, cocktails served in coconuts, and delicious Malagasy cuisine. Île Sainte-Marie is the real deal.

📸 Things to Do: Snorkel, Scuba dive, Go whale watching (June-September), Rent a pirogue (canoe) with a driver, Quad bike/motorbike north of the island
🗺️ Places to Visit: Île aux Nattes, Sacred Natural Pools
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: October-April

Rachel Davey, Very Hungry Nomads

5. Kosovo

Overlooking view of the Prizren town in Kosovo at sunset
View of Prizren from the fortress at sunset

Among Europe’s last hidden gems, the continent’s youngest country is affordable, enchanting, and home to some incredibly friendly locals. 

Kosovo is one of the most unique destinations in Europe, and perhaps its most affordable. While you won’t find many other tourists in Kosovo, you will find stunning mountainous landscapes, a thriving cafe culture, historic mosques and churches, intriguing cuisine, and more American flags than in the USA.

Intrepid souls who dare to discover Kosovo will find it’s much safer than you probably think, although caution is still advised before visiting the northern region. English prevalence is high and the locals are eager to chat and help out, making Kosovo the perfect place to find some new friends while pushing yourself outside your comfort zone.

📸 Things to Do: Prishtina Bear Sanctuary, Prizren Fortress, Taste Raki, National Library of Kosovo, Prishtina’s cafe culture, Gjakova Grand Bazaar 
🗺️ Places to Visit: Prishtina, Prizren, Peja 
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: May-September 

Nate from Travel Lemming

Nate Hake, Travel Lemming Founder

📚 Related Guides: Backpacking Europe Guide

6. Salento, Colombia

View of wax palms on a scenic spot in Salento, Colombia
Wax palms near Salento can grow up to 200 feet tall

Found near the world’s tallest palm trees, this small Andean town is the focal point of Colombia’s flourishing coffee industry.

Halfway between Bogotá and Cali is the Andean town of Salento, a quaint mountain village that inspired the setting for Disney’s 2021 musical, Encanto. Subsequently, eager travelers have flocked to Salento to witness the magic the movie is based on.

Peppering the hillsides of Salento are some of the most productive coffee and chocolate estates in South America, many of which offer interactive tours. Nearby, Cocora Valley is home to the tallest palm trees in the world while Los Nevados National Park features snow-capped peaks ready for summiting.

📸 Things to Do: Calle Real, Visit coffee farms, Embark on a chocolate-making tour
🗺️ Places to Visit: Cocora Valley, Filandia, Los Nevados National Park
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: December-March

Andrew Bloem, Travel Lemming Writer

7. Vanuatu

Rachel Davey and Marty Sebova of Very Hungry Nomads admiring the view on a beach in Port Vila
Rachel Davey and Marty Sebova of Very Hungry Nomads in Port Vila, Vanuatu

Explore the blue lagoons, lush rainforests, and stunning beaches that saturate this stretch of South Pacific Ocean islands. 

If you’re looking for a dreamy nature getaway, Vanuatu is the complete package. This South Pacific Ocean paradise offers beautiful landscapes, world-class diving, rainforests, volcanoes, captivating beaches, and warm hospitality. With an abundance of tropical fruit all year round, the country offers some delicious cuisine, too. 

Of course, you could spend your entire time beach-hopping and exploring the underwater world off the main island of Efate, but Vanuatu offers so much more. For a taste of adventure, head to the outer isles and villages to experience local culture and quintessential island life. 

📸 Things to Do: Hike an active volcano, Eat local dishes in the fresh markets of Port Vila, Go shipwreck diving
🗺️ Places to Visit: Tanna Island, The Blue Lagoon, Espiritu Santo
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: April-October

Rachel Davey, Very Hungry Nomads

8. Lake Ohrid, North Macedonia

A boat floating at the water of Lake Ohrid
Lake Ohrid’s turquoise waters support a unique underwater ecosystem

Visit the “Jerusalem of the Balkans,” a rare UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring Bronze Age relics, a unique ecosystem, and lakeside retreats.

Lake Ohrid is one of those rare UNESCO World Heritage Sites that meet both natural and cultural criteria. Beneath the surface of its tranquil waters lies one of Planet Earth’s most biodiverse lake ecosystems, as well as artifacts from ancient settlements dating back to at least the 4th century BC. 

Ohrid, the town that shares the lake’s name, has been nicknamed “the Jerusalem of the Balkans” because it is home to as many churches as there are days in the year. The town’s cobblestone streets and Instagram-worthy boutique hotels have long drawn vacationers from around the Balkans, though Ohrid remains a relatively hidden gem unknown to most travelers outside the region.

📸 Things to Do: Church of St. John the Theologian, Tsar Samuel’s Fortress, Boat tours, Hiking
🗺️ Places to Visit: Ohrid’s Old Town, Bay of Bones, Galičica National Park
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: June-August

Nate from Travel Lemming

Nate Hake, Travel Lemming Founder

📚 Related Guides: Best Travel Backpacks for Europe

9. Uzbekistan

View of the Registon Square in Uzbekistan

Follow in the footsteps of the ancient Silk Road, witnessing incredible madrassas, the disappearing Aral sea, and impressive mausoleums.

Uzbekistan is the gem of the Central Asia region. Once difficult to visit due to complicated visa requirements and limited flights, Uzbekistan has changed its conditions in recent years and should definitely be on your bucket list.

While here, I recommend visiting the ancient cities of Bukhara, Samarkand, and Khiva, where you’ll find the best examples of Silk Road architecture. Then, there is the capital city of Tashkent, a delightful and striking mix of old-world and contemporary. And, if you venture out further, you can witness the disappearing Aral Sea.

📸 Things to Do: See Registan in Samarkand at sunset, Shop for dried fruits at the famous Chorsu Bazaar, Take the metro in Tashkent 
🗺️ Places to Visit: Bukhara, Samarkand, Khiva
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: April-May, September-early November

Marty Sebova, Very Hungry Nomads

10. Detroit, Michigan

View of Detroit, Michigan skyline from Ontario
Views of the iconic city skyline from Ontario, Canada

“Motor City” has revved up interest with a thriving cultural scene, but maintains its historic charm with Motown music and Art Deco architecture.

The United States boasts some of the world’s most famous cities, and though Detroit doesn’t receive the same recognition as New York or Los Angeles, it certainly deserves to. This Michigan metropolis is filled with character, a diverse range of things to do, and friendly people.

As one of the country’s best-kept secrets, Detroit isn’t overly touristy, so you get the joy of exploring without crazy crowds. Some of the city’s best elements are its architectural history, Motown music, thriving sports scene, art culture, and excellent selection of restaurants, craft breweries, and cocktail bars. Canada is just across the beautiful Detroit river, so make the most out of your trip and visit two countries in one go!

📸 Things to Do: Eastern Market, Motown Museum, Detroit Riverfront, Try Detroit-style pizza, Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, Detroit Institute of Arts
🗺️ Places to Visit: Greektown, Park Avenue Historic District, Campus Martius, Belle Isle Island
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: May-October, December

Brooke Horrobin, Travel Lemming Writer

11. St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

Travel Lemming writer Andrew admiring the view of Caribbean Sea from the top of Goat Hill
Travel Lemming writer Andrew Bloem on St. Croix’s Goat Hill

A rock in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, this far-off destination emits a rustic and multicultural lifestyle unlike any other. 

In a way, St. Croix is the countryside of the U.S. Virgin Islands. It’s more than twice the size of nearby St. Thomas while having a smaller population. Though quieter, the pristine island offers everything you’d dream of during a seaside getaway.

For starters, the topography is stunning. A slender ridge runs the entire length of the island, complete with hiking trails, cliffside views, and a rainforest. The mountains spill into white-sand beaches before plunging thousands of feet into the ocean — providing amazing wall dive opportunities for scuba divers.

St. Croix’s hillsides are dotted with remnants of 18th-century sugar plantations, and the main towns of Christiansted and Frederiksted are flanked by colonial Danish fortresses. Buck Island Reef National Monument harbors endangered marine life while Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge protects critical shorelines for nesting sea turtles.

📸 Things to Do: Sail to Buck Island, Hike to the Annaly Bay Tide Pools, Watch the earliest sunrise in the US at Point Udall
🗺️ Places to Visit: Christiansted, Frederiksted, Sandy Point National Wildlife Refuge
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: April-June

Andrew Bloem, Travel Lemming Writer

📚 Related Guides: US Virgin Islands Guides, Places to Visit in the USVI

12. Caye Caulker, Belize

Travel Lemming writer Betty swimming with nurse sharks near the Belize Barrier Reef
Snorkel with hundreds of nurse sharks near the Belize Barrier Reef

Few tourists venture to this small island paradise, home to underwater bars, shark diving, and gorgeous tropical scenery.

Following an hour-long water taxi ride from the capital of Belize City, you’ll dock along a quaint row of outdoor bars and restaurants. Tourists gather near the Split, a waterway separating Caye Caulker’s residential area from the mangrove forests up north. Here, you’ll find thatch-roof palapas and barstools submerged in crystal-clear water. You’ll never enjoy a piña colada more than while waist-deep in the aquamarine sea.

With the Belize Coral Reef just off the coast, scuba diving and snorkeling are unmatched. Book an all-day catamaran trip for less than $100 USD, allowing you to swim with eagle rays, pufferfish, and massive swarms of nurse sharks. Year-round, the water is so warm that you won’t even need a wetsuit! You’ll come away from Belize wishing you could live out your days on a tropical island far from the realities of the mainland.

📸 Things to Do: Caye Caulker Regatta, Caye Caulker Lobster Fest, Snorkel, Scuba dive, Rent a catamaran
🗺️ Places to Visit: The Split, Caye Caulker Village, Belize Barrier Reef
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: November-April

Betty Hurd, Travel Lemming Writer

13. Teotihuacán, Mexico

Travel Lemming writer Lea Rose sitting on top of the Pyramid of the Sun
Travel Lemming writer Lea Rose on top of the Pyramid of the Sun

In this extraordinary place, rich history and human achievement inspire a sense of awe that (quite literally) takes your breath away.

An hour northeast of Mexico City lies the mysterious, pre-Hispanic city of Teotihuacán. Known for its massive size and towering pyramids, this site was one of the most influential cities of its region and time. 

The Pyramids of the Sun and Moon, as well as the Temple of Quetzalcóatl, make up the ancient archeological complex. If you’re up for a workout, ascend the stairs of each pyramid. Aerial views will inspire a sense of awe like none other, and make you see why Teotihuacán means “the place where the gods were created.”

📸 Things to Do: Visit the pyramids, Have a meal at La Gruta, Reino Animal
🗺️ Places to Visit: Pyramid of the Sun, Pyramid of the Moon, Temple of Quetzalcóatl
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: March-June, October-November

Lea Rose Allbaugh, Travel Lemming Writer

📚 Related Guides: 33 Things to Do in Mexico City, Best Hotels in Mexico City, Mexico Packing List

14. Mammoth Lakes, California

A man standing for a photo with the Rainbow Falls on his background
Rainbow Falls, a cascade at the end of a lovely forested hike

Go skiing on deep powder or explore a web of hiking and biking trails—this Central California mountain town is stunning every season. 

A year-round destination, Mammoth Lakes is equally stunning in the snow and the summer sun. While famed for some of the best skiing and snowboarding in California, seasonal snowmelt reveals wonderful campgrounds and a web of incredible hiking trails, several of which lead to pristine alpine lakes. 

📸 Things to Do: Mountain bike, Kayak Lake Mary, Ski or snowboard
🗺️ Places to Visit: Lake George, Devils Postpile, Rainbow Falls
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: January-March, September-November

Ashleigh Bandimere, Travel Lemming Writer

📚 Related Guides: 27 Things to Do in Mammoth Lakes

15. York, Maine

A boat at the York River under the clear blue sky
Kayak along the York River to pick up your fresh lobster, dockside.

Embark on a classic New England summer vacation to experience pleasant beaches, historic lighthouses, and the freshest caught lobster.

One hour north of Boston lies the charming beach village of York, Maine. Set on the state’s southern tip, the town is steeped in history and is famous for its fresh-caught lobster, lighthouses, and summer festivals.

York is one of the United States’ oldest cities, conserving important historical moments in local museums and the York Historical Society. It’s also home to three seaside golf courses and the classic New England preserves shop, Stonewall Kitchen. Pick up some jams before heading home to enjoy a taste of summer all year long.

Try to plan your visit during York Days, an annual July festival with food, drinks, games, and more fun for the whole family. Afterward, take a drive to the Nubble Lighthouse or walk the beautiful cliff path to watch an amazing sunset over the water.

📸 Things to Do: Take the Cliff Walk to York Harbor Beach, Hike the Mt. Agamenticus region, Eat fresh lobster, Kayak on the York River
🗺️ Places to Visit: Nubble Lighthouse, Stonewall Kitchen, Wiggly Bridge Distillery
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: June-September, December

Larissa Albright, Travel Lemming Writer

16. Morelia, Mexico

Overlooking view of the Morelia Cathedral from the outside
Morelia Cathedral

In this captivating city, cobblestone streets and intricate stone buildings blend periods of history with today’s vibrant Mexican culture.

Morelia, the capital of Michoacán, is a stunning product of rich Mexican and Spanish Colonial history. The narrow cobbled streets winding between pink stone buildings are reminiscent of a quaint European town, but the distinct flavor of Mexican culture permeates the city, giving it a truly unique atmosphere.

Towering at the heart of the city is the Morelia Cathedral, which presides over the central square. In this UNESCO World Heritage Center, you can stroll through the garden, enjoy a bite to eat, and sip mezcal while listening to live music.

📸 Things to Do: Santuario de Guadalupe, Morelia Cathedral, Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve
🗺️ Places to Visit: Plaza de Armas, The Rose Conservatory, Morelia acqueduct
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: February-April, September-November

Ashleigh Bandimere, Travel Lemming Writer

📚 Related Guides: Places to Visit in Mexico, Safety in Mexico, Travel Insurance for Mexico

17. Húsavík, Iceland

View of a tail of a whale in Húsavík Harbor
A whale taking a dive near Húsavík Harbor

Visitors to this Icelandic fishing village spot whales and puffins, then thaw in hot spring pools just south of the Arctic Circle. 

North of the roaring Goðafoss Waterfall and pristine Mývatn lakes lies a small fishing village with unexpected natural beauty. Take a boat tour across Skjálfandi Bay to see breaching whales and nesting puffins on a backdrop of snow-covered mountains. 

Even though tourists flock here for whale watching, the harbor town maintains its charm with colorful houses lining the streets. Húsavík also has geothermal sea baths that are less crowded than the Blue Lagoon. Visit the museums to learn more about Icelandic wildlife and the community’s history.
-Seychelle Thomas

📸 Things to Do: Whale watching in the harbor, Soak in a geothermal sea bath
🗺️ Places to Visit: Húsavík Whale Museum, GeoSpa, Húsavík Museum
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: June-August

Seychelle Thomas, Travel Lemming Writer

18. Aswan, Egypt 

Travel Lemming writer McKenna enjoying herself in front of the Abu-Simbel temple
Travel Lemming writer McKenna twirling in front of the epic Abu-Simbel temple

Venture where few explore to witness ancient wonders and float on a felucca, a centuries-old style of sailboat. 

While most visitors to Egypt flock to Giza, Cairo, and Luxor, the grandeur and beauty of Aswan is reserved for enthusiastic visitors. Your exploration will be rewarded with unbelievable ancient ruins, friendly locals, and opportunities to experience sites most other tourists don’t even know exist.

Explore the Temple of Philae and Monastery of St. Simeon, and take a day trip to one of the country’s best-hidden gems, the Abu-Simbel temple. In this southern Egyptian town, summer temperatures often exceed 100°F. To combat the desert heat, cruise down the Nile River on a felucca, a style of sailboat used since the 10th century.

📸 Things to Do: Abu-Simbel Temple, Take a felucca Nile River cruise, Temple of Philae
🗺️ Places to Visit: Nubian Villages, Elephantine Island, Monastery of St. Simeon
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: October-May

McKenna Mobley, Travel Lemming Writer

19. Cebu, Philippines

Travel Lemming writer Lea Rose with her friends swimming with the whale sharks in Cebu
Swimming with whale sharks in Oslob

Relax on white-sand beaches or revel in daring adventures—this stunning Philippine province caters to both types of tourists.

The Philippines is a prime destination for island adventures, and Cebu is no exception. Visitors can swim with whale sharks, go canyoneering down cascading waterfalls, see the unusual Chocolate Hills in Bohol, and so much more. Island hopping is a favorite activity. Surrounded by 167 isles and inlets, the province has endless places to explore by land and sea. 

Perfect for all types of tourists, Cebu allows you to indulge in both thrilling experiences and waterfront relaxation. If you seek the latter, set your sights on Moalboal, Camotes, and Bantayan Islands, all known for their scenic white-sand beaches.

📸 Things to Do: Swimming with whale sharks, Waterfall canyoneering, Island hopping
🗺️ Places to Visit: Oslob, Bantayan Island, Kawasan Falls
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: December-May

Lea Rose Allbaugh, Travel Lemming Writer

20. Bogotá, Colombia

Colorful hoses at the cobbled street in La Candelaria in downtown Bogotá
The cobbled streets of historic La Candelaria in downtown Bogotá

One of Latin America’s largest cities, this eclectic capital is a vibrant epicenter of South American culture and dazzling colonial architecture. 

In the last decade, Colombia has shed its former reputation and is now regarded as one of the most affordable and culturally vibrant travel destinations in the world. Undoubtedly, your experiences in this South American country ought to include a stop in the Andean metropolis of Bogotá.

Travelers gravitate to La Candelaria, a labyrinth of cobbled streets and alleyways lined with budget hostels, chic coffee shops, rooftop breweries, and timeless Colombian restaurants like La Puerta Falsa. Adventurers will love climbing Cerro de Monserrate for stunning city views, while history buffs will enjoy browsing the fascinating Museo del Oro (Gold Museum).

📸 Things to Do: Dine at La Puerta Falsa, Hike Cerro de Monserrate, Museo del Oro
🗺️ Places to Visit: La Candelaria, Plaza de Bolívar, Salt Cathedral of Zipaquirá
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: December-March

Andrew Bloem, Travel Lemming Writer

21. South Island, New Zealand

A woman on top of a mountain with an overlooking view in South Island, New Zealand

Full of postcard-worthy landscapes, New Zealand’s largest island is easily one of the most beautiful destinations on the planet.

The South Island of New Zealand, the largest of the two main islands, is renowned for its stunning mountains, fjords, glaciers, and lakes. Places like Milford Sound and Doubtful Sound will leave you dazzled by their beauty—without the hefty price tag of comparable destinations like Norway and Iceland.

Exploring the South Island is all about epic road trips, lake dips, thrilling outdoor activities, and of course, learning about fascinating Māori culture. This is a destination best visited with your own wheels, so I highly recommend getting a rental vehicle for the optimal experience. With New Zealand only recently reopening its borders to tourism, this pristine island and its people are ready to welcome you.

📸 Things to Do: Hike the Lake Marian Track, Take a Milford Sound cruise, Go bungee jumping in Queenstown
🗺️ Places to Visit: Fiordland National Park and Milford Sound, Mount Cook National Park, Lake Wanaka 
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: December-March

Marty Sebova, Very Hungry Nomads

22. Whidbey Island, Washington

View of the Deception Pass Bridge in Whidbey Island
Whidbey Island’s iconic Deception Pass Bridge

This tranquil, unhurried island in Puget Sound entices nature lovers and artists with a slower pace of living.

With its uncrowded bluffs and beaches, stunning forests, and historical sites, Whidbey Island beckons outdoor enthusiasts to Washington state. Kayak around the island’s iconic Deception Pass Bridge, and witness breathtaking sunsets on Ebey’s Landing. Bunkers and batteries invite exploration, as does the meticulously preserved lighthouse at Fort Casey.

The island’s charming small towns urge you to embrace moving at a slower pace. Forage for Penn Cove mussels in Coupeville, one of the state’s oldest communities, then wander through Langley’s bohemian galleries for a healthy dose of artistic inspiration.

📸 Things to Do: Deception Pass State Park, Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, Earth Sanctuary, Fort Casey State Park, Musselfest, Blue Fox Drive-In Theater
🗺️ Places to Visit: Langley, Coupeville, Oak Harbor
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: March-October

Chelsea Booker, Travel Lemming Writer

📚 Related Guides: Places to Visit in Washington, Things to Do in Washington

23. El Cuyo, Mexico

View of the pool area and the beach in Hotel la Casa Cielo
View of El Cuyo beach from Hotel la Casa Cielo

A sleepy village on an out-of-the-way sandbar, El Cuyo offers one of the Yucatan’s last unspoiled stretches of white sand and the chance to truly disconnect.

El Cuyo is a quiet fishing village with a population of about 1,750 inhabitants, located in a hard-to-reach corner of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. Journeying to El Cuyo requires navigating a single pothole-ridden road through dense jungle, but that’s part of the charm and the reason El Cuyo remains such a hidden treasure. 

Though technically a sandbar, El Cuyo has a laid-back island vibe and kilometers of gorgeous white sand completely free of crowds. Conditions are perfect for kitesurfing, making it the perfect place to learn, or you can just grab a book and relax at one of El Cuyo’s small beachside boutiques.

📸 Things to Do: Kitesurf, Rent an ATV, Go paddleboarding, El Cuyo beach
🗺️ Places to Visit: El Cuyo town center, Las Coloradas, Río Lagartos
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: December-March

Nate from Travel Lemming

Nate Hake, Travel Lemming Founder

📚 Related Guides: El Cuyo (Ultimate Travel Guide), Renting Cars in Mexico

24. Karijini National Park, Australia

Marty Sebova of Very Hungry Nomads during her hike in Karijini National Park
Marty Sebova of Very Hungry Nomads hiking in Karijini National Park, Western Australia

One of the country’s best-kept secrets, the dramatic landscapes of Karijini National Park are well worth the effort to get there.

Found in Western Australia, Karijini National Park may be the best-kept secret in the whole country. Each year, well-known national parks like Kakadu in the Northern Territory and Daintree in far North Queensland draw large numbers of tourists. But you won’t find crowds at Karijini. Sure, it takes a little effort to get there, but traveling in Australia is all about detouring to discover hidden gems. 

This spectacular destination features ancient gorges and canyons, towering waterfalls, serene swimming holes, and wildlife, too. So pack the hiking shoes, book a camper van, and reconnect with nature—Karijini is calling.

📸 Things to Do: Swim in freshwater pools, Go hiking, Enjoy the scenery
🗺️ Places to Visit: Kermit Pool via Hancock Gorge, Knox Gorge Walk, Weano Gorge (Handrail Pool)
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: April-October

Marty Sebova, Very Hungry Nomads

25. Crested Butte, Colorado

View of wildflowers at the Walrod Loop Trail
Summer wildflowers on the Walrod Loop Trail

Claiming big titles, this historic Colorado mountain town strikes a balance between rugged and charming, drawing outdoor enthusiasts year-round. 

Claiming the monikers “Colorado’s Wildflower Capital” and “the last great Colorado ski town,” Crested Butte sets its bar high. But visitors to this remote Rocky Mountain village will find these promises fulfilled, and more. With over 750 miles of singletrack, Crested Butte is also famed as one of the birthplaces of mountain biking. 

Aside from outdoor recreation, the former mining town is a relic of America’s Wild West. Colorful Victorian buildings, now charming galleries and boutiques, line the downtown main street. You won’t find traffic lights on Elk Ave, nor cellular service on nearby scenic drives.

Kebler Pass, stunning in the fall, leads to Paonia, famed for its wineries and farm-to-table restaurants. West Maroon Pass, a hiking trail connecting Crested Butte to Aspen, offers another escape from the everyday.

📸 Things to Do: Crested Butte Wildflower Festival, Crested Butte Mountain Resort, Mountain bike, Hike West Maroon Pass to Aspen
🗺️ Places to Visit: Downtown Crested Butte, Kebler Pass to Paonia, Meridian Lake, Gothic 
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: July-August, December-March 

Abigail Bliss, Travel Lemming Editor

📚 Related Guides: 41 Best Places to Visit in Colorado

26. Kraków, Poland

A horse carriage at the Rynek Główny in Kraków, Poland
Take a horse-drawn carriage around Rynek Główny, the main market square

Discover poignant history, incredible architecture, and fantastic Polish cuisine in one of Eastern Europe’s most affordable cities. 

Kraków is a stunning city, filled with horse-drawn carriages that transport tourists and trees and perfectly manicured gardens lining the cobblestone streets. Less than an hour from the charming city square lies Auschwitz concentration camp, a tragic but important site that forever leaves a chilling mark on visitors. 

In addition to the immense Jewish history in and around Kraków, awe-inspiring architecture abounds. This especially applies in the well-preserved medieval core. Walk through Rynek Główny, the market square, to sightsee St. Mary’s Basilica, a 14th-century Gothic church, Wawel Royal Castle, and more. When visiting, be sure not to miss the salt sculptures in the Wieliczka Salt Mine.

📸 Things to Do: Take a carriage ride through Rynek Główny, Try Krupnik and homemade pierogies, See the salt sculptures at Wieliczka Salt Mine
🗺️ Places to Visit: Auschwitz concentration camp, St. Mary’s Basilica, Wawel Royal Castle
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: March-May, September-November

Betty Hurd, Travel Lemming Writer

📚 Related Guides: Places to Backpack in Europe

27. Palau

Rachel Davey of Very Hungry Nomads snorkeling under the water of Jellyfish Lake
Rachel Davey of Very Hungry Nomads exploring Jellyfish Lake, Palau

A remote cluster of islands in the western Pacific Ocean, Palau is home to some of the best scuba diving in the world. 

Palau is a tiny nation located in the western Pacific Ocean, about 500 miles east of the Philippines and 800 miles northeast of Guam. Remote? You could say that. Worth visiting? Absolutely! 

This cluster of islands is as gorgeous as it is diverse; some say it has the best marine ecosystem in the world. It’s no surprise that its tourism focuses on its best assets: world-class scuba diving and untouched natural beauty. 

Conservation is crucial in Palau. Upon entry to the country, you must sign a stamped environmental pledge in your passport vowing that you, too, will be conscious during your visit. The stamp containing the commitment is adorable – an imprint of a jellyfish.

📸 Things to Do: Scuba dive, Swim with a million stingless jellyfish, Tour Rock Island 
🗺️ Places to Visit: Jellyfish Lake, Belau National Museum, Downtown Koror
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: September-May

Rachel Davey, Very Hungry Nomads

28. Charlotte, North Carolina

Overlooking view of Uptown Charlotte during autumn season
Autumn views of uptown Charlotte

Combining trendy with classic Carolina charm, this perfectly-sized city is located near some of North Carolina’s best attractions. 

Though smaller than other urban areas in the United States, Charlotte provides all the amenities of a larger city without the overwhelm. The diversity of attractions in Charlotte makes it a worthy destination for a variety of visitors.  

The arts, culture, and food scenes are thriving, and there are sports attractions galore—think professional football, basketball, and NASCAR. Because Charlotte is centrally located, outdoor recreation in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Outer Banks, and Lake Norman are all within a short drive.

📸 Things to Do: Carowinds, U.S. National Whitewater Center, NASCAR Hall of Fame
🗺️ Places to Visit: Uptown, Camp North End, Lake Norman
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: March-May, September-November

Lea Rose Allbaugh, Travel Lemming Writer

📚 Related Guides: Where to Stay in Charlotte, 29 Places to Visit in North Carolina, 33 Things to Do in North Carolina

29. Xiaoliuqiu, Taiwan

Aerial view of the Flower Vase Rock in Little Liuchiu, Taiwan
Flower Vase Rock, an iconic snorkeling point in Xiaoliuqiu (photo: Sean Yeh / Shutterstock)

Coastal drives, snorkeling with sea turtles, and fresh seafood await on Taiwan’s only coral island.

All you need on Xiaoliuqiu is a motor scooter, a bathing suit, and a bit of cash. To reach the island, also known as Liuchiu and Lambai Island, take a 20-minute ferry from Donggang (tickets are less than $10 USD). When you arrive, rent a motorbike at the port. The island is only about two-and-a-half square miles, so it’s easy to navigate by scooter without getting lost. 

Chow down on fresh seafood, then enjoy sweet bubble tea for dessert. To simplify your trip, book one of many all-inclusive guesthouses on Xiaoliuqiu, offering meals, snorkeling tours, and more.

📸 Things to Do: Snorkel with sea turtles, Scooter the perimeter of the island, Visit a Buddhist temple
🗺️ Places to Visit: Little Liuchiu villages, Biyun Temple, Beauty Beach
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: September-December

Betty Hurd, Travel Lemming Writer

30. Cleveland, Ohio

Reflection of skyscrapers on a river in Cleveland, Ohio
The Cleveland skyline gleaming in the moonlight

A Midwestern city that embraces all communities and caters to every interest.

A major city in the American Midwest, Cleveland embraces diversity, both in its communities and attractions. Studio West 117 popped up this year, a new neighborhood created by and for the LGBTQ+ community. In 2023, Karamu House, America’s oldest African American theater, is putting on new shows; while the Western Reserve Historical Society will be opening a Black history exhibit. 

Black representation continues with a new photo display on the golden age of Soul, R&B, and funk, available at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. City entertainment further extends to the clubs on West 6th Street and the shops of Tower City Center. Not to mention the concerts, comedy shows, sports games, and more. With Lake Erie’s shoreline and 23,000 acres of parks and nature preserves, even outdoor enthusiasts will love exploring Cleveland.

📸 Things to Do: See a show at Karamu House, Cleveland History Center, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Tower City, West Side Market, Cleveland Museum of Art
🗺️ Places to Visit: Studio West 117, Edgewater Park, Public Square
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: May-September

Nilani Thiyagarajah, Travel Lemming Writer

📚 Related Guides: Where to Stay in Cleveland, Ohio Travel Guides, Places to Visit in Ohio

31. Louisville, Kentucky

Building of one of the whiskey distilleries in Louisville, Kentucky
One of the city’s many whiskey distilleries (photo: 4kclips / Shutterstock)

Make a pilgrimage to the heart of Bourbon Country, where libations flow and the food and hospitality are both delightfully southern. 

Louisville was once known as the “Wall Street of Whiskey” and proudly lives up to this name today. With its Wall of Bourbon and unique tasting experience, the Frazier History Museum marks the start of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail​​. Continue your spirited vacation by visiting multiple of the city’s distilleries. 

Besides bourbon, Louisville is also something of a culinary city. Its food scene is up and coming, featuring several James Beard award-winning chefs and restaurants. If your idea of a good getaway revolves around food and drinks, then Louisville is the place to be.

📸 Things to Do: Visit bourbon distilleries, Frazier History Museum, Kentucky Derby Museum
🗺️ Places to Visit: Old Louisville, Urban Bourbon Trail, NuLu
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: March-June, September-November

Elizabeth Demolat, Travel Lemming Writer

32. Reno, Nevada

Neon signs at night in Downtown Reno
Dazzling nighttime views of downtown Reno (photo: Joseph Sohm / Shutterstock)

Explore “The Biggest Little City in the World,” offering the same glamorous allure of Las Vegas but half the amount of tourists.

From midday rafting to midnight clubbing, Reno perfectly balances outdoor activities and nightlife. Hike along the Truckee River or hit the slopes at Mt. Rose Ski Resort, then indulge in Reno’s enchanting entertainment. 

Downtown is constantly buzzing with activity. Enjoy delicious eateries, get discounted tickets to shows, and try your luck at the casinos’ penny slots. Unlike the bustling attractions of Las Vegas, you’ll seldom encounter crowds—and those you meet will likely be locals, urging you to embrace all that the city has to offer.

📸 Things to Do: Whitewater rafting, Truckee River Walk, Mt. Rose Ski Resort, Try your luck at casinos, Nevada Museum of Art, Reno Arch, Dine at Bimini Steakhouse
🗺️ Places to Visit: Downtown Reno, Lake Tahoe, Rancho San Rafael Regional Park, Idlewild Park
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: April-May

Isabelle Pavese, Travel Lemming Writer

📚 Related Guides: Nevada Travel Guides

33. Sofia, Bulgaria

The St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral from the outside in Sofia, Bulgaria
St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral

Alongside modern and ancient influences, this hidden gem in Eastern Europe is home to underrated cuisine and underground music. 

Built on ancient ruins and filled with interesting people, Sofia is one you’ll want to put on your bucket list. Though the capital of Bulgaria, it’s a lesser-known destination, making it one of the most affordable places to stay in Europe. You’ll find an upcoming restaurant scene, and one of the best underground music scenes in Eastern Europe.

The city abounds with spectacular architecture and fascinating history. Sofia is the continent’s only city with four distinct places of worship in one dedicated area. The Square of Tolerance features an Eastern Orthodox church, a Catholic cathedral, a mosque, and a synagogue, all just a short walk from each other.

📸 Things to Do: St. Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, See ruins at Serdika Metro Station, Drink the mineral water downtown, Regional History Museum Sofia, St. George Rotunda Church
🗺️ Places to Visit: The Square of Tolerance, Vitosha Mountain, Vitosha Boulevard
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: April-October

Laura Falin, Travel Lemming Senior Writer

34. Chiang Rai, Thailand

Reflection of the majestic White Temple of Chiang Rai on a pond
The awe-inspiring White Temple of Chiang Rai gets more intricate the closer you get

Visit this northern Thai city to marvel at some of Southeast Asia’s most stunning temples and Buddhist shrines. 

North of Chiang Mai lies the less-traveled Chiang Rai, where visitors will find some of the most thought-provoking temples in the region. Marvel at the history and intricate carvings of the White, Blue, and Black Temples, each one saturated in its assigned color. 

Explore other attractions unique to Chiang Rai, including the Golden Clocktower and Wat Huai Pla Kung, famed for its giant white statue of the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy. And don’t miss the Night Bazaar, full of vibrant stalls selling souvenirs and all the incredible Thai food you crave.

📸 Things to Do: Rent a motorbike, Zipline above the tea plantations at Singha Park, Chiang Rai Night Bazaar, Municipal Market Food Court
🗺️ Places to Visit: The White Temple, The Blue Temple, Baan Dam Museum (The Black Temple), The Golden Clocktower, Wat Huay Pla Kung
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: October-February

Sky Ariella, Travel Lemming Writer

📚 Related Guides: Thailand Travel Guides

35. Cape Coast, Ghana

People crossing a hanging bridge in Kakum National Park

In this West African city, experience a vibrant jungle oasis and educate yourself on important history.

Ghana’s Cape Coast is vibrant and scenic. Visit Kakum National Park where you’ll discover Ghana’s absolute enchantment. Sway with the tropical treetops as you tiptoe across the Canopy Walkway, a series of rope bridges strung 30 meters above the ground. When visiting, keep an eye out for forest elephants, mona monkeys, leopards, and other incredible wildlife. 

Tour Cape Coast Castle and Elmina Castle to learn about the history of the transatlantic slave trade. As you wander the sun-bleached walls of each dungeon, you’ll envision these harsh realities, and though sobering, there are lessons to learn from the past.

📸 Things to Do: Tour slave castles, Surf the Gold Coast, Eat fufu and red red
🗺️ Places to Visit: Kakum National Park, Elmina, Accra
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: October-March

Betty Hurd, Travel Lemming Writer

36. Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico

Ancient structures at the Chaco Culture National Historical Park
A small glimpse of the park’s ancient structures

Peer down into kivas and crouch through brick passages as you explore this ancient city set in the high desert. 

Chaco Culture National Historical Park is one of the American Southwest’s most precious places. It’s found on Navajo land at the end of a long dirt road, far from any of today’s large cities. But more than a century ago, between 850 and 1250 A.D., this archeological wonder housed thousands of Ancestral Puebloan people.

Today, the remote destination is one of the United States’ least visited National Parks. Its significance and preservation of over one million artifacts even granted the park a UNESCO World Heritage Site title. Chaco Culture is also an International Dark Sky Park, which means it’s perfect for stargazing. Hiking trails lead through ruins, past petroglyphs, and into the high desert landscape. The awe-inspiring ruins are heightened by the remarkable solitude.

📸 Things to Do: Visit archeological sites, Take a guided hiking tour, Canyon Loop Drive, Camping, Stargazing
🗺️ Places to Visit: Chaco Culture Visitor Center, Pueblo Bonito, Chetro Ketl, Pueblo del Arroyo, Casa Rinconada
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: March-May, September-November

Abigail Bliss, Travel Lemming Editor

37. Salkantay Trek, Peru

Travel Lemming writer McKenna with her friend smiling for a photo during a hike in Salkantay Trek
Travel Lemming writer McKenna Mobley posing with a friend in front of the most scenic part of the 5-day trek

Traverse glacial rivers, snow-capped peaks, and dense jungle terrain to arrive at one of the seven wonders of the world: Machu Picchu. 

Take the route less traveled to Machu Picchu, the most spectacular archeological site in Peru. Across the span of five days, the Salkantay Trek weaves in and out of the dense jungle and Andean mountain terrain. 

The beauty of the snow-capped peaks and glacier-carved valleys is sure to wow all who lay their eyes on the landscape. On your scenic journey, you’ll share authentic Peruvian dishes and get to know hospitable locals. Likely, you’ll encounter only a few other tourists, adding to the reasons why this is one of the country’s absolute best excursions.

📸 Things to Do: Take a side trail to Humantay Lake, Huayna Picchu Mountain, Cocalmayo Hot Spring
🗺️ Places to Visit: Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu ruins, Chonta Canyon of the Condor
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: April-November

McKenna Mobley, Travel Lemming Writer

38. Cataño, Puerto Rico

Travel Lemming senior writer Vanessa smiling for a photo in Cataño, Puerto Rico
Travel Lemming writer Vanessa Ramos in Cataño

Just a short boat ride from San Juan, this lively oceanside town revolves around good music, tasty food, and Caribbean rum.

Although it’s just a short and cheap ferry ride from Old San Juan, very few Puerto Rico tourists know about Cataño. Those who do often visit solely for the Bacardi Factory, the largest rum distillery in the world. But there is so much more to do in this vibrant, lesser-traveled town.

Families can enjoy Bahía Viva Cataño, an oceanside promenade featuring colorful piers, playgrounds, a fountain, and social-media-worthy murals. Couples and solo travelers will love Cataño’s great nightlife and restaurants. El Kiki Ese, the Container Bay Restaurant, and El Balcón del Mojito all have a lively ambiance with music and dancing.

📸 Things to Do: Bacardi Rum Factory, Bahía Viva Cataño, Patron Saint Festivals
🗺️ Places to Visit: Las Cucharillas Swamp Nature Reserve, La Esperanza Park, Cataño Pyramid
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: December-July

Vanessa Ramos, Travel Lemming Senior Writer

📚 Related Guides: 64 Things to Do in Puerto Rico, Where to Stay in Puerto Rico

39. Tavira, Portugal

Colorful sky over the town of Tavira in Portugal during sunset

Set aside the party vibes for a quiet beach getaway in Portugal’s beautiful Algarve region.

Avoid resort-heavy areas and tourists who like to party, and rather, take a trip to Tavira. Set in the Algarve, the southernmost region of Portugal, this charming city is subdued without being boring and has plenty to do without being overwhelming. Its authenticity hasn’t faltered even as its popularity has grown over the years. 

Ilha de Tavira, an 11-kilometer sandbar, will allure you with its stunning beaches and waterfront restaurants. But don’t neglect the city’s easy-to-explore, budget-friendly bars and eateries. Here, you’ll find delicious Portuguese pastries, excellent cocktails, and some of the freshest seafood you’ll ever have.

📸 Things to Do: Enjoy fresh seafood, Listen to live music at Fado com História, See the city from Camera Obscura
🗺️ Places to Visit: Ilha de Tavira, Praça da República, Castelo de Tavira, Igreja de Santa Maria do Castelo
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: April-June, September-November

Chelsea Booker, Travel Lemming Writer

📚 Related Guides: Things to Do in Tavira, Best Places to Visit in Portugal

40. Coos Bay, Oregon

A welcome sign at the entrance of the Coos Bay Boardwalk

A charming town on the Oregon Coast, Coos Bay attracts visitors with its stunning scenery, art, history, and seafood. 

Just inland from the mighty Pacific Ocean, Coos Bay is a lovely small town with a big personality. Here, you can take a relaxing stroll along the river, savor local oysters and seafood, and immerse yourself in the area’s railroad and logging history.

Coos Bay is also a stone’s throw from one of the coast’s most breathtaking attractions—the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Take the short drive to see them set against a background of towering pines and crashing waves.

📸 Things to Do: Coos Bay Boardwalk, Oregon Coast Historical Railway, Coos Art Museum
🗺️ Places to Visit: Downtown Coos Bay, Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, Cape Arago Highway
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: June-October

Victoria Folz, Travel Lemming Writer

41. Taos, New Mexico

Ancient architecture found at the town of Taos Pueblo in New Mexico
(photo: DianeWierengaPhotographer / Shutterstock)

From the oldest, continuously inhabited Taos Pueblo to an array of outdoor activities, this eclectic community embodies the spirit of New Mexico. 

Not far from Albuquerque and Santa Fe lies the underrated town of Taos, New Mexico. Set at 7,000 feet above sea level, this destination has something spectacular for everyone. 

Outdoor adventurers will appreciate the hiking trails, hot springs, and world-class ski slopes. Foodies can indulge in authentic New Mexican cuisine, like blue corn tortillas, chiles rellenos, and spicy green chile. Those that appreciate history and culture can explore Taos Pueblo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and National Historic Landmark.

📸 Things to Do: Spa at El Monte Sagrado Living Resort, Taste green chile, Tour local wineries, Browse art galleries, Summit Wheeler Peak
🗺️ Places to Visit: Taos Pueblo, Taos Plaza, Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, Arroyo Seco, Taos Ski Valley
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: March – September

Jess Levy, Travel Lemming Writer

📚 Related Guides: Where to Stay in Taos, Best Places to Go in New Mexico

42. Mauritius

Relaxing view from the beach in Grand Baie, Mauritius during sunset
Twilight on the beach in Grand Baie, Mauritius

Circled by coral reefs, this Indian Ocean island is a treasure in every way. It’s rich in culture, history, and raw beauty.  

Glorious beaches, turquoise water, swaying palms, pristine resorts, soaring mountains, cascading waterfalls, lush rainforests, and bountiful exotic wildlife. All describe Mauritius, yet this small island is ever so much more. 

Found east of Madagascar, the country changed hands frequently during colonial times, resulting in a multi-ethnic culture like none other. Since gaining independence in 1968, the Republic of Mauritius has become one of the most stable democracies in Africa. The locals’ love and pride for their home is a large part of what makes it so special. In today’s complicated world, the island stands as a source of peace and hope.

📸 Things to Do: Relax on the beach, Snorkel around the reefs, Visit Île aux Cerfs, Tour Pamplemousses Botanical Garden, Jump from Rochester Falls, See Seven Colored Earths
🗺️ Places to Visit: Grand Baie, Port Louis, Mahebourg, Flic en Flac, Curepipe, Flacq, UNESCO World Heritage Site Le Morne Cultural Landscape
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: April-June, September-December

Jericha Griffin, Travel Lemming Writer

43. Trinidad, Trinidad and Tobago

Travel Lemming writer Ashleigh enjoying her day at a waterfall in Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad is full of gorgeous spots, and the best part? No one else is there!

Calypso music, Caribbean cuisine, and a sandy coastline characterize this lesser-traveled tropical paradise. 

Trinidad is a lesser-traveled island with a vibrant landscape and lifestyle. Swathed in the tropical jungle, it’s home to a variety of unique plants and animals. Hidden waterfalls, wild rivers, and diverse wetlands add to the scenery. 

Its unique cuisine blends Caribbean, Chinese, and Indian flavors to create delicious dishes. When visiting, try locals’ street food favorite—“doubles,” a curried chickpea sandwich topped with spicy mango chutney. 

From incredible food to fun festivals and the rhythm of Calypso music, Trinidadians’ warm, welcoming culture will be the highlight of your experience.

📸 Things to Do: See turtles nest at Grande Riviere, Tour the Caroni Bird Sanctuary, Asa Wright Nature Center
🗺️ Places to Visit: Maracas Beach, Bamboo Cathedral, Mermaid Pools of Matura
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: January-May

Ashleigh Bandimere, Travel Lemming Writer

44. Laurel, Mississippi

View of the Laurel Mercantile building in Laurel, Mississippi
The downtown Laurel Mercantile

Experience small-town charm in South Mississippi, where main street façades are receiving a refresh. 

HGTV fans know: Laurel, Mississippi is a charmer. Famed by Home Town, this lovely little city is just as welcoming and magical as it appears on the screen. With a beautiful historic district and quaint downtown, there’s plenty to explore. Pop into restaurants, cafes, and boutiques full of handmade wares and artisan goods. 

A two-hour drive from New Orleans, Laurel is the perfect day trip from The Big Easy. Or choose to stay a while! Book a cozy cottage B&B, where you’re sure to fall in love with small-town life.

📸 Things to Do: Shop downtown, Eat crawfish and po’ boys, Explore the Historic District
🗺️ Places to Visit: Lauren Rogers Museum of Art, Laurel Mercantile, Cafe la Fleur
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: April-June, September-October

Elizabeth Demolat, Travel Lemming Writer

45. West Orange, New Jersey

Aerial view of West Orange, New Jersey during sunset

A regional suburb of New York City, this unexpected destination surprises visitors with its scenery and range of attractions. 

New York City appears on countless destination guides, but for those who like to venture off the beaten path, there’s the regional suburb of West Orange, New Jersey. Locals know that this well-kept secret is more than what meets the eye. 

Attractions like Turtle Back Zoo and Regatta Playground are perfect for families, while more mature crowds will be drawn to upscale restaurants and lodging. Visit side streets like Mount Pleasant Avenue, where you’ll find large communities of luxury housing set on beautiful hills. For more scenery, visit Eagle Rock Reservation and admire the New York City skyline.

📸 Things to Do: Turtle Back Zoo, Paddleboat, Picnic at the Regatta Playground, Treetop Adventure Course
🗺️ Places to Visit: Thomas Edison National Historical Park, Eagle Rock Reservation, The Highlawn Restaurant
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: April-September

Yvette Griffith, Travel Lemming Writer

📚 Related Guides: Places to Visit in New Jersey, Where to Stay in New Jersey

46. Grand Junction, Colorado

Book Cliffs from afar under the clear blue sky in Colorado

Adventure and leisure abound on Colorado’s Western Slope, a fertile area known for its outdoor activities, farm-to-table cuisine, and the scenic town of Grand Junction.

Combine adventure and leisure when visiting Grand Junction, a town set in the center of Colorado wine country. On the nearby Grand Mesa, the world’s largest flattop mountain, you’ll discover scenic lakes and countless trails. Hiking, biking, and climbing extend to the Colorado National Monument, while the mighty Colorado River draws kayakers, rafters, and fishers. 

After a day of adventure, enjoy a pint on a sunny patio at one of the area’s many exciting craft breweries. Enjoy more local flavors by visiting in the late summer and fall, the best time to sample Colorado’s pride and joy, local Palisade peaches. Savor them in all their juicy, ripe perfection at one of Grand Junction’s renowned farm-to-table restaurants.

📸 Things to Do: Hiking, Mountain biking, Whitewater rafting, Wine tasting
🗺️ Places to Visit: Grand Mesa, Colorado National Monument, Palisade
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: June-October

Laura Falin, Travel Lemming Senior Writer

📚 Related Guides: 21 Things to Do in Grand Junction, Where to Stay in Grand Junction

47. Squamish, British Columbia

A suspension bridge with a mountain view in Squamish
Suspension bridge overlooking the mountains in Squamish

Travel north of Vancouver to discover this breathtaking mountain town where trails lead to summits, lakes, and cascading waterfalls. 

Many long-weekend travelers to British Columbia don’t make it past Vancouver, but it would be a shame to miss the stunning town of Squamish. This mountain village is located just an hour north and brims with natural beauty. 

Take in picturesque views on the Sea to Sky Gondola, and hike to the summit of the Stawamus Chief monolith. Trails also lead through lush forests and to alpine lakes, as well as to Shannon Falls, a breathtaking 335-meter cascade. By visiting, you’ll quickly discover why many in Western Canada describe the region as the “West Coast, Best Coast.”

📸 Things to Do: Sea to Sky Gondola, Summit Stawamus Chief, Squamish Craft Tasting Trail, Squamish Farmer’s Market, Hike in Garibaldi Provincial Park, Shannon Falls Provincial Park
🗺️ Places to Visit: Howe Sound, Garibaldi Highlands, Downtown Squamish
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: May-September

Brooke Horrobin, Travel Lemming Writer

📚 Related Guides: British Columbia Road Trip Guide

48. Zagreb, Croatia

Aerial view of stunning architectures and the Cathedral of Zagreb in Croatia

What Zagreb lacks in coastline is dramatically made up for in culture, art, history, and locale, as it’s set near some of Croatia’s most stunning national parks. 

Croatia’s capital city, Zagreb is often overlooked by travelers chasing salty seas hedged by towering ancient walls. Sleeping on Zagreb would be a mistake though, as it’s less touristed and more laid-back than many of its coastal counterparts, making it a more economical option than other Croatian destinations. Plus, its Mediterranean-meets-Austro-Hungarian culture lends to some of the most unique experiences in this part of the continent.

Here, you’ll find locals drinking coffee, wine, or beer in the cobblestone alleyways, year-round festivals in the city’s many parks, eclectic strips of era-bending architecture, and museums that will either teach you about physics or take you on an emotional rollercoaster. Not to mention, Zagreb is the perfect central location for a ton of day trips including Plitvice Lakes National Park, Samobor, and the Adriatic Sea in Opatija.

📸 Things to Do: Museum of Broken Relationships, Nikola Tesla Technical Museum, Dolac Market
🗺️ Places to Visit: Upper Town, Lower Town, Jarun lake
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: May-October, December

Taylor Herperger, Travel Lemming Editor

📚 Related Guides: 27 Things to Do in Croatia, Croatia Itinerary Planner

49. Block Island, Rhode Island

View from the Block Island during sunset
A stunning sunset on Block Island

Embrace the island vibes of this East Coast paradise, where bicycle rides, beach days, and brilliant sunsets charm summer visitors. 

Take a ferry or sailboat to the shores of Block Island, the perfect place to unwind and live on island time. This hidden gem features boat-filled harbors, a bicycle-friendly culture, and countless unique restaurants and boutiques. 

In a single day, you can hit the farmer’s market, explore the historic district, and enjoy the stunning scenery from clifftop lighthouses. Of course, no trip would be complete without a visit to one of the local establishments for a Mudslide, the island’s favorite boozy drink. Sip one while soaking in some of the most brilliant sunsets on the East Coast.

📸 Things to Do: Block Island Farmers Market, Rent a bicycle, Dine at The Oar, Block Island Race Week, Sailing, Hiking
🗺️ Places to Visit: Fred Benson Town Beach, Block Island National Wildlife Refuge, Mohegan Bluffs, Southeast Lighthouse
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: May-October

Victoria Folz, Travel Lemming Writer

50. Mt. Shasta, California

The Mt. Shasta from afar viewed in Highway 97
View of Mt. Shasta from Highway 97

With few crowds and mind-boggling natural wonder, this California mountain town beckons visitors to head north. 

Though California is a wildly popular destination, few folks head further north than San Francisco—but what a mistake it is to miss Mt. Shasta. Dense forests, pristine lakes, and outdoor adventures are aplenty, as is a welcoming sense of camaraderie.

This gorgeous destination is treasured by wilderness lovers and spiritual seekers, many with fascinating beliefs about the region’s mysterious volcano. The air is crisp, the lakes and rivers teem with trout, and cozy lodges invite you to the warmth of their stone-hearth fireplaces. Mt. Shasta is a quintessential mountain town in the truest form.  

📸 Things to Do: Hike in Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Climb Mt. Shasta, Mt. Shasta Ski Park, Mt. Shasta Sisson Museum, Pneuma Institute Mineral Hot Springs
🗺️ Places to Visit: McCloud Falls, Lake Trinity, Pluto’s Cave, Lake Shasta Caverns
🗓️ Best Time to Visit: June-March 

Jericha Griffin, Travel Lemming Writer

📚 Related Guides: Camping in California, 51 Best Things to Do in California, Best Hikes in California


👉 Not seeing enough places to travel? Try clearing your filters!

Our annual list is a collaborative effort of our entire team. It takes months to create and is the product of three phases: a nomination phase, a selection phase, and a fact checking phase. 

Nomination phase: In September, each of our dozens of expert travel writers submit nominations for their favorite hidden gems around the world.

Selection phase: In October, our editorial board votes on which nominees should make the cut, and also rates them so we can order the list. Our editorial board this year consisted of:

  • Editor in Chief Nate Hake
  • Editors Taylor Herperger and Abigail Bliss
  • Senior Travel Writers Vanessa Ramos and Laura Falin
  • Guest Contributors Rachel Davey and Marty Sebova of Very Hungry Nomads (who are currently nearing the end of their quest to visit every country in the world)

Fact Checking phase: Next, our editors go through the entries with a fine toothed comb to ensure factual accuracy. We double and triple check details through an extensive process that includes outreach to local tourism boards to make sure our recommendations are factually correct, up to date, and aligned with local community goals.

The end result is what we think is our best list yet – and we hope you do too! Of course, any “best of” list is inherently subjective, and ours is no different. There are many wonderful places to travel in this world that we didn’t have space for this year – but there’s always next year’s list of places to travel!

🌍 Want more travel inspiration? Browse last year’s list (which are still great places to travel!). Or check out our summer list of best things to do in the USA or our list of places to travel without a passport.

Follow Travel Lemming on social media:

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate (you can leave feedback after clicking submit)

Help us help you travel better!

Your feedback really helps ...

What did you like about this post? Or how can we improve it to help you travel better?