Wouldn’t it be great if we could snap our fingers and find ourselves on a Mediterranean beach? Or at the top of the Eiffel Tower? Or feeding giraffes in South Africa?
Despite several coronavirus vaccines, we still don’t know if any of those trips we all want will be possible in 2021. But just because international travel is at a momentary standstill doesn’t mean you can’t plan an amazing vacation. We’ve rounded up a list of destinations that are must-worthy in their own right. If you can’t make it to your dream destination in 2021, don’t settle—try heading to one of these cities instead.
Top Picks for You
Wishing for Paris? Try New Orleans
If you’ve had your heart set on seeing the City of Light but can’t make your way to Paris, there’s an affordable (and obvious) stateside option. If you’re open to a slight cultural detour, New Orleans is booming with energy year-round. In the Big Easy, you’ll experience a blend of French, African-American, and Southern cultures. The French Quarter is the belly of the beast, home to America’s oldest bar, incredible jazz venues, and delicious restaurants. Plus, they have drive-through daiquiri stands—one thing Paris is desperately missing.
While New Orleans isn’t interested in refinement, it still carries with it an air of French je ne sais quoi evident in its architecture, slang, and cuisines. In NOLA, you’ll constantly hear music playing in the streets and people have a casual, laissez-faire attitude. Plus, you’ll eat and drink very, very well. With its French settlement roots and closeness in culture, it’s the perfect Parisian back-up plan.
Wishing for Rio? Try Miami
Looking for a vibrant beach getaway but can’t escape to South America? What do Mr. 305, Scarface, and Will Smith all have in common? Miami, baby. Miami is a near-electric city, brimming with culture, world-class dining, and of course, gorgeous beaches. Miami feels like a true escape because it’s built for luxury.
Much like Rio de Janeiro, it has an incredible nightlife scene, an intersection of international cultures, and a thriving gay community. In Miami, you can experience authentic Cuban cafecitos and Haitian stews. With a dense Afro-Latinx population, Miami also celebrates Carnival, just like in Brazil.
Wishing for Copenhagen? Try Burlington, Vermont
Copenhagen is known for its cozy cobblestone streets and cycling culture. It’s also known for having some of the happiest residents on Earth. Here in the U.S., you can find a similar vibe—including the very happy residents—in Burlington, Vermont. Burlington is a warm and welcoming college town that is gorgeous year-round. It’s brimming with breweries, some of the world’s best cheese, and the iconic Ben and Jerry’s factory. Those looking for Copenhagen-esque qualities can enjoy the city’s active bike culture, as there are waterfront paths all over the city. Burlington, also like Copenhagen, has picturesque winters with frigid single-digit temperatures. But with welcoming residents and always delicious ice cream, you can’t go wrong no matter the season.
Wishing for London? Try Philadelphia
We know what you’re thinking. If you can’t make it across the pond, the American equivalent to London would be New York. Sure, both are huge, sprawling cities, both have capital roots, and both are diverse melting pots of culture and food. But the American answer to London isn’t the Big Apple—it’s Philadelphia. Philly often plays second fiddle to NYC, but is equally enriched with a dynamic food scene, history, and its own rich culture. If you’re willing to trade Big Ben for the Liberty Bell, you can take advantage of the many historical tours, museums, and sights that Philadelphia has to offer. It’s also got an abundance of pubs, a tourist-friendly pier district, and wild, cranky residents with unique accents. Sound familiar?
Wishing for the Amazon? Try Redwood National Park
Did you know the Redwoods, specifically Fern Canyon, were used as filming locations for Jurassic Park 2: The Lost World? Steven Spielberg chose the location for its otherworldly, jungle-like beauty, making it a perfect fit for Cretaceous creatures. It’s also a perfect fit for anyone unable to explore the Amazon. Redwood National Park is one of America’s only natural rainforests—and yes, America has rainforests. Like the Amazon, the Redwoods are dense and sprawling, spanning over hundreds of thousands of acres. While their climates are not the same, you can still see beautiful wildlife, hike, bike, and zipline, and see incredible natural caves and waterfalls. Built for adventure, Redwood National Park is a gorgeous concession to experiencing the Amazon.