20 Best Places to Visit in 2020, er… 2021

Best trips to take in 2020... er, 2021

What are the best places to visit in 2020 – or on second thought,  2021? Increasing amounts of travelers complain about crowded destinations. So the secret to trip planning in 2020 2021 will be finding areas that aren’t congested but still provide unique and authentic experiences. Here are 20 best places to visit in 2020 2021, which offer adventure and enticing attractions on the road less traveled.

Table of Contents

1. Mérida, Spain

White marble columns of the Roman Theatre are shown from the seating area above. One lone woman experiences the semi-circular outdoor space.
Experience the Roman Theatre of Mérida without the crowds of more popular archaeological destinations. One of the best trips to take in 2020. Photo by UNSTOPPABLE Stacey.

Why? Experience authentic Roman ruins without the bustling crowds. At under-visited Mérida, Spain, once a capital city of the Roman Empire, you can still experience the former glory right within today’s townscape. The walkable Spanish town, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers interpretive sites, museums and outstanding local cuisine.

Who should go? History buffs, fans of the movie Gladiator and foodies.

Don’t miss: The hippodrome where two- and four-horse chariots contended before audiences of 30,000 in a scaled-down version of Rome’s Circus Maximus. The theatre (pictured above) and Merida’s Colosseum-like Amphitheater. Also, zorongollo, the region’s red chile pepper salad.

Here’s the next pick for ‘Best places to visit in 2020’ …

2. Catania, Sicily, Italy

Snow-capped Mount Etna looms above Italian town of Catania, Italy
Mt Etna and Catania, selected as ‘Best Place to Travel in 2020. Photo by Ben Aveling via Wikimedia.

Why? One of the world’s most active volcanoes + sunny beaches + art and history makes Catania, Italy, one of the best places to visit in 2020 2021. Avoid crowds and inflated prices of over-loved Rome by jetting to this city on the isle of Sicily, which boasts an international airport.  

Who should go? History and culture buffs, millennial travelers, volcanologists and others interested in earth science.

Don’t miss: Ferrovia Circumetnea, a historic narrow-gauge railroad that gets you around steaming Mount Etna. Also, Piazza del Duomo with its enigmatic elephant statue and the Roman Theatre.

Now if a steaming volcano didn’t blow your bucket-listing mind, there’s always …

3. Albuquerque, New Mexico

Colorful deflating balloon looking up at its center - blue sky shows through
Photo by UNSTOPPABLE Stacey author of ‘20 Best Places to Visit in 2020.’

Why? Albuquerque might be the best place on earth for hot air balloon rides. For one, New Mexico’s largest city has over 300 days per year of optimal ballooning weather. Secondly, a unique weather phenomenon called The Albuquerque Box – where low winds move in one direction, and the high-level winds move in another – enables pilots to take off and land in the same place. Don’t miss this chance of checking ‘ballooning’ off your bucket list. We loved our adventure with Rainbow Ryders Hot Air Balloon Company.  Another reason why Albuquerque is on the “Best trips to take in 2020” list.

Who should go? Adventure seekers, wine lovers and couples.

Don’t miss: Tasting the award-winning sparkling wines at Gruet Winery, nominated for this year’s Wine Enthusiast American Winery of the Year. The New Mexico winery specializes in méthode Champenoise wines that carry on the tradition of founder Gilbert Gruet’s Champagne house in Bethon, France. Later, catch a romantic sunset from Level 5 rooftop bar at Hotel Chaco. Afterward walk over to Tablao Flamenco for a full-blown flamenco show. Ole’! Read more about Albuquerque.

4. Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

Avoid the crowds with an exclusive day trip along the Saigon River on the lavish Reverie Yacht.

Why? Exotic food, swanky hotels and French colonial architecture are part of the attraction of this river-twined city that whirrs with a flurry of cultures.

Who should go? From travelers seeking high-style accommodations to backpacking nomads, urban explorers and foodies.

Don’t miss: Tasting Bánh , traditional Vietnamese sandwiches made on French baguettes. Exploring Củ Chi Tunnels, a war memorial. Watching sunsets from a river cruise. Indulge with bespoke excursions along the Saigon River on your own 60-foot yacht complete with a butler to pop the champagne cork.  The Reverie Yacht is offered by The Reverie Saigon, a luxury hotel.

Rather get your kicks closer to home? Then check out the next ‘Best places to visit in 2020’:

5. Southeast Montana is one of Best Places to Visit in 2020

In a museum storeroom, two women sift through sand hoping to find dinosaur bone pieces.
Sifting for pieces of dinosaur bone at Carter County Museum in Ekalaka, Montana.

Why? Southeast Montana is an under-visited spot in the US West, so it is perfect for those who prefer to avoid crowds and are comfortable exploring wide-open spaces. Follow Montana Dinosaur Trail to Carter County Museum in Ekalaka, where you get behind the scenes and help paleontologists sift dinosaur bones. Or plan your trip around their annual Dino Shindig, July 25-26, 2020, and take part in paleo field expeditions. The museum has been at the epicenter of dinosaur discoveries for the past 100 years.

Who should go? Families, cowboy wannabees and dinosaur wranglers.

Don’t miss: Medicine Rocks State Park where the spirit of the place touches as you hike among the strangely-shaped hoodoos that stand straight up in the expansive prairie. Alternatively, cowboy up at the Range Riders Museum in Miles City home of the Miles City Bucking Horse Sale, a rodeo like no other.

Why should you take a road trip to Southeast Montana? Find out here.

Watch 'Best Trips to Take in 2020' Slideshow:

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1. Mérida, Spain
Experience Roman ruins without the crowds of more popular archaeological destinations.
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2. Catania, Sicily, Italy
Mt Etna and Catania. Photo by Ben Aveling via Wikimedia.
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3. Albuquerque, New Mexico
Albuquerque might be the best place on earth for hot air balloon rides.
4. Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam
- - - ------------------------------------------------Avoid crowds with exclusive Saigon River day trip on the lavish Reverie Yacht.
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5. Southeast Montana
For families, cowboy wannabees and dinosaur wranglers.
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6. Lourdes, Occitanie, France
in the Pyrenes ...........
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7. Havasu Falls, Arizona
Reservations only
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8. Krabi, Thailand
Island beaches accessible by boat only
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6. Lourdes, Occitanie, France

Candlelight processional of people walk along a boulevard in Lourdes, France.
People from all over the world come together for candlelight processionals in Lourdes, France, making his one of the best places to visit in 2020.

Why? The Grotto of Massabielle next to the Gave de Pau River is where the young Bernadette first recieved her vision of Mary, mother of Jesus Christ. Today Lourdes is a center for Catholic pilgrims and others from around the world, who seek emotional, physical and spiritual cures. And because of that, much of the town situated in the Pyrenes foothills is wheelchair accessible.

Who should go? Religious travelers, solo seekers and travelers with disabilities.

Don’t miss: The restorative baths that are fed with waters of Lourdes that are said to have healing properties. The candlelight processionals happening every evening at 9 pm from April to the end of October, and during Marian Feasts on December 8 and February 11.

7. Havasu Falls, Arizona

White waters of the tall Havasu Falls plunge down red cliffs and into blue green pools of water.
Havasu Falls is open to visitors with permits, but in the future, those permits could become more restrictive. One reason this pristine oasis is listed as 'Best trips to take in 2020.'

Why? Escape to this remote blue-green oasis before hiking permits and reservations become more restricted. The striking geologic feature is one of several waterfalls along Havasu Creek, which eventually flows into the Colorado River at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. A 10-mile (16-kilometer) hike through hot, dry Arizona canyonlands leads to the remote falls.

Who should go? Adventure seekers and outdoorsy types.

Don’t miss: Buying hard-to-get reservations, which include permits to be on tribal lands. Find out how at The Complete Guide to Hiking Havasu Falls

8. Krabi, Thailand

This tall pillar of limestone rock looks more like a sea stack than an island standing high out of green-blue waters. A boat sails in front of the large vertical rock.
Koa Poda is one of 200 islands surrounding the coast of Krabi, Thailand. Boat tours to the remote islands make this one of the '20 Best places to Visit in 2020.'
Why? Island beaches accessible only by boat are reasons to escape to this otherworldly landscape. But when you add fresh Thai seafood, locals that are happy that you are there, and affordable luxury resorts, it makes the flight so worth it. Who should go? Families, couples and adventure seekers. Don’t miss: Dodging monkeys on the walk to Tiger Cave Temple. Snorkeling off Poda Island. Relaxing at Krabi Resort, which has ample room with activities included for families.

9. Erie Canal, Macedon, New York

Red and green packet boat tied at pier on Erie Canal while a warren through truss bridge runs overhead.
Midlakes Navigation 'packet boat' tied at Erie Canal.

Why? Sail self-skippered 41-foot barges like true adventurers through huge concrete locks, under 100-year-old lift bridges and past picturesque countryside. Stop overnight in charming villages to window shop and taste the local produce at chef-owned restaurants – for a surprising blend of hipster restaurants and laid-back Americana.

Who should go? Couples, history enthusiasts and boating fans.

Don’t miss: Canal Village Farmers’ Market in Medina, Erie Canal Adventures and the Spencerport Depot & Canal Museum.

Water seems to be a theme for many of these “Best trips to take in 2020.” Beaches, rivers, canals and next up, a fjord…

10. Saguenay National Park, Quebec, Canada

Wide Saguenay Fjord with cliffs rising up to meet the blue skies makes this one of 20 best places to visit in 2020.
10. Cape Trinity in Saguenay National Park, Quebec, Canada By J. Boulian via WikiMedia.

Why? The chance to see beluga whales and explore one of the longest fjords in the world are two of the reasons to visit this park. Another? National Geographic named the trail network through Saguenay National Park as a “Top 10 Walks & Hiking Tours.”

Who should go? Nature lovers, multigenerational families and those wanting to brush up on their French.

Don’t miss: The marine shuttle, les Navettes maritimes du Fjord, which is a hop-on, hop-off water taxi. The shuttle services trailheads, charming village restaurants, which serve up French Canadian cuisine and colorful marinas. Or journey into the heart of the fjord at Musee du Fjord’s multimedia experience and aquarium.

11. Castle Hot Springs, Arizona is one of Best Places to Visit in 2020

Granite mountain rises up behind oasis of palm trees, pond and new, minimalistically styled cabins
Castle Hot Springs, the first health and wellness resort in Arizona, has been resurrected with a +$25M renovation after 70 years of neglect.

Why? After 70 years of neglect, Arizona’s first health and wellness resort was recently resurrected with a +$25M makeover. Helicopter or 4-wheel-drive into this remote, luxury getaway where you’ll recharge in natural hot springs and refuel with innovative farm-to-table cuisine (included with your stay.)

Who should go? Couples, wellness-oriented travelers and outdoorsy types.

Don’t miss: Soaking in hot pools fed from springs in the surrounding Bradshaw Mountains. Sipping Lithium Lager brewed from Castle Hot Springs healing waters. Exploring rocky desert hills with resort guides.

Back in the day, America’s richest families visited here for a “Western” experience. The next “Best Places to Visit in 2020” is the eastern place of residence of one of those families — the Vanderbilt’s. Read on…

12. Asheville, North Carolina

Travel blogger Unstoppable Stacey contemplates life as a Vanderbilt while looking out the bedroom window at Cumberland Falls bed and Breakfast.
UNSTOPPABLE Stacey imagines days gone by -- and the best places to visit in 2020 -- at Cumberland Falls bed and Breakfast in Asheville, NC.

Why? During the Gilded Age, America’s richest family chose the pictorial countryside around Asheville to build their palatial manor. 130 years later, visitors come to the Biltmore Estate to get a taste of the golden era and the idyllic climate enjoyed by the Vanderbilts. The hilly countryside affords challenging hiking and biking trails for the outdoorsy while 35 craft breweries and numerous James Beard recognized chefs satiate astute foodies.

Who should go? History and architecture buffs, outdoor enthusiasts and foodies.

Don’t miss: Extending the Biltmore experience with a stay at The Cumberland Falls Bed and Breakfast, located near the mansion. What’s more, lunch at the chef’s counter at Cúrate, an authentic Spanish tapa restaurant.

13. Mazatlán, Mexico

woman walks on sunny beach in Mazatlan
Beaches in Mazatlan are some of the best in Mexico.

Why? Semi-tropical beaches, charming historic district with architecture galore and a culinary scene named a candidate for UNESCO’s ‘Creative Cities Designation in Gastronomy’ make this Mexican beach town the perfect getaway.

Who should go? Families, couples, and foodies.

Don’t miss: Jugo Verde at Panamá Restaurante y Pastelería, my new favorite breakfast spot. Ramble along the Malecón, Mazatlán’s waterfront walkway, where locals, expats and visitors alike gather to socialize during incredible sunsets.

I loved my stay at the next “Best Places to Visit in 2020” … so I am confident that you will, too.

14. Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, Arizona

Living room-style lobby area with huge white fireplace, light-colored furnishing and sleek, modern lines. Best place to visit 2020.
Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, Arizona is one of "Best Places to Visit in 2020." Photo by UNSTOPPABLE Stacey.

Why? The luxury resort close to desert hiking and golf offers a superb fusion of indulgent comforts and fun family amenities. For instance, ‘Kids for All Seasons’ enables parents to leave children with camp counsellors at no extra charge. Recharge in the spa or on the golf course, and then get the family back together at the bi-level pool.

Who should go? Multigenerational families, wellness-oriented travelers, golfers

Don’t miss: Talavera, a renowned modern Spanish steakhouse where Chef Samantha Sanz – recently nominated for James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year Award –prepares paella, jamón ibérico and grilled Galician octopus. Hummer rides in the desert or a morning hike to Pinnacle Peak. The restaurants at Four Seasons Scottsdale at Troon are a big reason this resort is listed as one of the “Best Places to Visit in 2020.”

15. Chiang Mai, Thailand

Elephant forages for food in thick mountain foliage. His handler watches from afar.
Elephant forages for food in mountain forest without chains or other inhumane handling.

Why? This exotic and pleasant city in northern Thailand is the launchpad for those wanting to experience elephants, which are so much a part of Thai history and culture. A mecca for ex-pats, Chiang Mai, is affordable – a US or Australian dollar or two can buy some of the best food Thailand has to offer.

Who should go? Travelers seeking ethical approaches to wildlife tourism, retirees, solo seekers.

Don’t miss: Chang Chill elephant camp that partners with World Animal Protection for the new ethical approach to wildlife tourism.  Veranda High Resort on a scenic slope with views over rice and tea terraces. Mountaintop temple of Wat Phra That Doi Suthep where legend has it an elephant trumpeted three times and then fell over to die.

For another alternative to busy destinations in 2020, read the next pick…

16. Rochester, NY, another 'Best Place to Visit in 2020'

Couple looks from rooftop bar to High Falls, a waterfall in downtown Rochester, NY.
Chill-laxing at Genesee Brewery rooftop bar in Rochester, NY. The mix of space for laidback living and urban culture makes Rochester one of the best places to visit in 2020.

Why? Get a taste of New York without the expense of going to “The Big Apple.” Rochester’s parks by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed New York’s Central Park, are perfect for family fun and the venue for events that showcase the blooming spring and summer. Affordable accommodation, plus museums and a revitalized downtown, which celebrate theatre, film and fine arts.

Who should go? Families, millennial travelers,

Don’t miss: Apple picking at U-pick farms during the fall. Glimpsing into the life of a great American innovator at the George Eastman Museum. Or stirring your sense of wonder at Dancing Wings Butterfly Garden® at Strong Museum of Play.

I’ve guarded the next pick as a secret, but now that the ‘cat is out of the bag,’ here’s my reveal…

17. Picos de Europa, Asturias, Spain

Trail goes through rustic tunnel carved into rocky cliff in foreground. In background a tiny hiker is seen on the same trail far above rushing creek/river below.
Ruta del Cares, a hiking route chiseled into the side of a deep river gorge in Picos de Europa National Park,, Spain, one of the 20 places to visit in 2020.

Why? Just listed on National Geographic’s best trips to take in 2020, you need to get to Picos de Europa now before the flood of Nat Geo readers is unleashed. Photos of jagged peaks of the remote national park are oft confused with those of Switzerland. The staggering beauty of the mountainous terrain left me breathless, as did the dread I felt when Nat Geo revealed one of my favorite secret gardens.

Who should go? Runners, hikers, climbers.

Don’t miss: Ruta del Cares, a seven-mile (12-kilometre) hiking route chiseled into the side of a deep river gorge. It was a secret … until now named as one of “Best trips to take in 2020.”

18. Santa Fe, New Mexico

Exterior of six-story hotel designed after traditional pueblo with multiple flat roofs, log beams (vigas) sticking out of adobe-like walls. New Mexico blue sky behind.
Inn & Spa at Loretto in the heart of Santa Fe displays the Santa Fe-Style architecture so prevalent in "The City Different." Photo by UNSTOPPABLE Stacey.

Why? Called the “City Different” for a reason, Santa Fe is unlike any other place on the globe. Its long and colorful history of blended cultures and its ranking as the third largest art market in the US are top reasons that Santa Fe is ranked among the world’s most prominent getaways.

Who should go? Art lovers and travelers interested in different cultural experiences.

Don’t miss: Immersive art experiences at Meow Wolf. The Ashi Anma Foot Treatment at Ten Thousand Waves spa. Tours of native pueblos during sacred feast days with Passport To Pueblo Country

19. Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains

Two backpackers are silouetted by the sunrise as they stand on McAfee’s Knob on Appalachian Trail .
McAfee’s Knob on the Appalachian Trail are only part of the 500-miles of trail that are found around Virginia's Blue Ridge. Only one of the reasons that this place makes the list of "Best trips to take in 2020."

Why? After being named International Mountain Bicycling Association’s only Silver-Level Ride Center™ east of the Mississippi, Virginia’s Blue Ridge is establishing itself as America’s East Coast Mountain Biking Capital. That, in addition to +600 miles of hiking trails, including the Appalachian Trail and McAfee’s Knob (one of the most photographed spots on the Appalachian Trail,) makes Virginia’s’ Blue Ridge a mecca for hikers and mountain bikers.

Who should go? Outdoor enthusiasts and trainiacs.

Don’t miss: Virginia Museum of Transportation in Roanoke with its extensive collection of locomotives and railroad memorabilia. Also, the D-Day National Memorial in Bedford. Plus, the Blue Mountain National Parkway make this area a “Best Places to Visit in 2020.”

20. Yuma, Arizona is one of the 'Best Places to Visit in 2020'

Lithograph from 1875 showing Colorado River at Yuma with horse-drawn covered wagon in the foreground.
Yuma, Arizona, is rich in territorial history. Image By George Baker, Public Domain, Wikimedia

Why? Yuma’s nearby dunes have long drawn off-roading enthusiasts from California and Arizona. Now the nation’s longest OHV (off-highway vehicle) trail that follows the Colorado River from Yuma makes the river town a mecca for off-roaders nationwide. Stroll along the riverfront, investigate Arizona territorial history, taste the bounty of this agricultural hub and watch for birds in National Wildlife Refuges.

Who should go? OHV enthusiasts, foodies and birdwatchers.

Don’t miss: The Yuma Bird, Nature & History Festival on January 15-17, 2021. Field-to-Feast farm tours. The 750-mile Arizona Peace Trail for a trip into the Arizona desert. 

What destination on this “Best Places to Visit in 2020” surprised you? Which destination would you recommend to be added? Leave a comment below.

As is common in the travel industry, UNSTOPPABLE Stacey was provided with accommodations, meals, and other compensation for the purpose of writing about travel. While it has not influenced this article, the Arizona travel writer believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest.

In addition, this blog, UNSTOPPABLE Stacey Travel, contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, she will earn a commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help reduce the ever-increasing costs of keeping this travel blog active. Thanks for reading.

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14 thoughts on “20 Best Places to Visit in 2020, er… 2021”

  1. Thanks so much for mentioning Yuma! Yuma is so rich in history. Yuma is such a treasure to be found! We invite everyone to come see what Yuma has to offer. If you ever come to Yuma please come by Historic Coronado Motor Hotel for a bit of Yuma Hospitality!

        • Hello Karen,

          Thanks so much for reaching out. I will be attending the Yuma Bird, Nature and history Festival from Jan 10-12. I would love to connect. Would love to write about the YUMA AGRICULTURAL/FOOD tours – think my readers would enjoy that. Would be happy to extend my stay if you could make it happen! You could DM me on the contact page of this blog. Talk soon, UNSTOPPABLE Stacey

  2. There are twenty unmissable places to visit within fifty miles of where I live and it would be a great idea for all commentators to this post to add their own local twenty, just to show how varied our own back yards are too. My list: Castle Acre (Village, Castle & Priory), Sandringham, Norwich (City, Castle & Cathedral), Holt, Cromer, Wymondham, The Norfolk Broads, Blickling Hall, Castle Rising, Appleton Church, Oxburgh Hall, King’s Lynn, Welney Marshes, Cley next the sea, Holkham, Burnham Market, Thetford Priory, Walsingham, Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse Museum & Brancaster Staithe.

    • Great idea, Glynn! OK, folks take the challenge! Post the places within 50 miles of where you live for best local attractions.

  3. We love #9! Thanks for putting us on the list!
    Mid-Lakes Hireboats was sold last year when longtime owners retired. The new owners are a local family, and the new company is Erie Canal Adventures. The experience; boats, season, schedule and prices remain the same and so does all of the staff. Only the website has changed: http://www.eriecanaladventures.com
    Thank you!
    Aimee LeFever
    Reservations Manager
    (315) 986-3011

    • HELLO AIMEE! Glad you LOVE #9 – make sure to share the news with your social media followers – you can use the share button below! I was aware of the transition in ownership — I’m confident that the new owners will continue the high level of service, maintenance and training. I so enjoyed my Erie Canal trip – I’d like to come back and sail as far west as possible. What is the furthest western port that you service?

  4. Thanks for mentioning Southeast Montana, a little reported “treasure” in the Treasure State. The Terry Badlands, with its awe-inspiring massive natural bridges, are worth the bumpy road.

    • I really can’t wait to write more about SE Montana and post more photos of the amazing places I visited…stay tuned! May I add you to my email notification list for this blog? You’ll get notified when I post a new story – usually once every 2 weeks.

    • Ohh, good tip: Spokane relatively close to Glacier National Park. I had to postpone my trip to Glacier because i couldn’t get a room at the park. Next time, I’ll check out rooms in Spokane… or nearby! Thanks, Elaine!


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