Every long weekend or short vacation needs a focal point—that one moment or experience that you can base the rest of the journey around—whether it’s a music festival, a new installation at your favorite museum or reservations at a trendy new restaurant.
That’s what we have assembled here for you—a collection of unique travel experiences across North America that would be ideal for your adventures in 2020. Browse the collection and start your wish list now. Many of these experiences can be heightened by our partners, who are all ready to make 2020 your best year ever.
1. GAZE IN AWE AT THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
Experience the ethereal glow of the Northern Lights in the Last Frontier. Entrée Destinations, an Andrew Harper Travel partner that specializes in customized journeys through Canada and Alaska, can put you where you need to be to see the lights at their most magnificent. Their six-day Black Rapids itinerary out of Fairbanks also includes guided hikes, the opportunity to meet dog sled racers and geology lessons from local experts.
2. Dive Into The Void In PUERTO MORELOS
Cenote La Noria is a sinkhole-turned-oasis, a pool of enchantingly blue water located in the Riviera Maya that proves perfect for a day of refreshment and relaxation. The depth of the cenote makes it ideal for the adventurous as well—either with scuba diving or with cannonballing off the rope swing.
3. TAP YOUR TOES IN NEW ORLEANS
The food may be all sorts of spicy, soulful and fulfilling, but nothing sets your spirits alight quite like the Big Easy’s music scene. There’s no wrong place to bust out your boogie shoes, but as with the cuisine, variety is the spice of life. Try to sample several live acts; the fact that bouncing between venues is usually done by joining in on a second line adds just an extra pinch of jubilance.
4. CATCH A “ROCK” SHOW IN DENVER
Mile High City is known for plenty of things, but nothing will have you on cloud nine quite like the Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Whether it’s a music concert or a feature-length film projected onto a bigger-than-big screen, sitting in the massive sandstone amphithe-ater with the open sky sprawled out above makes for an experience at the summit of euphoria.
5. WALK AMONG GIANTS AT SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK
Admire both the individual tree and the forest, with a walk amongst the world’s giants at Sequoia National Park. These wooden monoliths are without equal—creating a setting perfect for introspection, exploration and a healthy helping of goosebumps.
6. HIT THE SLOPES AT WHISTLER
The towering expanse of Whistler Blackcomb across the horizon may as well be Mt. Olympus—few other mountains make the grade as such a fabled and renowned summit. As one of the largest ski resorts in North America, it’s capable of supplying every out-door delight and downhill thrill you can imagine: Ski slopes, mountain bikes, scenic canoe rides, fly fishing and more await, changing in time with the seasons.
“Montana boasts an expanse of wilderness that, in places, truly feels like the last wild American frontier. At Triple Creek Ranch, our guests enjoy easy access to the spectacular wilderness that surrounds us. Panning for sapphires is an unexpected—and addictive!—delight for Triple Creek Ranch guests. The Sapphire Mountain range lies just to the east of the ranch, and we have a panning station onsite, with big bags of raw gravel from a nearby Sapphire Mountain gem mine.”
– Jennifer O’Donohue, Triple Creek Ranch, A Montana Hideaway
8. BE BLOWN AWAY BY THE ALBUQUERQUE INTERNATIONAL BALLOON FIESTA
Held every year in early October, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the largest gathering of hot air balloons in the world. This colorful nine-day extrav-aganza draws visitors from across the globe and culminates with a breathtaking Mass Ascension when all 500-plus balloons simultaneously take to the sky. Stay at Los Poblanos, a historic inn and organic lavender farm an easy 20-minute drive from Balloon Fiesta Park.
9. QUEUE UP FOR SHAKESPEARE IN THE PARK
A treasured New York City tradition, Shakespeare in the Park is the cultural highlight of summer in the city. Held in the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, productions are often star-studded affairs that draw crowds of Shakespeare lovers and theater buffs alike. Tickets are free on a first-come, first-served basis and are only available on the day of the performance either at the box office or through an online lottery.
10. SET SAIL AROUND NEWPORT
Located on the picturesque Narragansett Bay, Newport, Rhode Island, has long been famous for its Gilded Age mansions and yacht-filled harbors. Get into the local spirit by hopping aboard a classic antique yacht for a day and find out why Newport is called the sailing capital of the world. Stay at the Castle Hill Inn, a 19th-century mansion perched on a secluded cliff above the water, and the hotel will arrange a sunset sail aboard a classic yacht or a day trip to Block Island or Martha’s Vineyard for you.
“ For avid swimmers used to open ocean conditions, we can offer an exclusive adventure to snorkel or scuba with the fish. This amazing experience is offered from northern Cancun and entails looking for big schools of sardines that are located in the open Caribbean Sea. An expert guide will be joining you in the water to assure the best experience possible.”
– Rich Biswell, Journey Mexico
12. GO MUSEUM HOPPING IN MEXICO CITY
Mexico’s art scene is vibrant and historically significant. You’ll see it all on full display while museum-hopping across Mexico City. Start the day at the Frida Kahlo Museum, located in her childhood home, then discover her most iconic works at the Museo Delores Olmedo. Next, head to Museo Nacional de Arte, home to an impressive range of Mexican and international art from the 16th to the mid-20th century, before checking out quirky folk art at Museo de Arte Popular.
13. WATCH OLD FAITHFUL ERUPT
Thanks to a dormant volcano at its center, Yellowstone National Park is a bubbling cauldron of geological activity. The land is dotted with geysers, boiling hot springs and bubbling mudpots, each vying for your attention. To see these up close—especially Old Faithful, that ever-punctual geyser that erupts roughly every 74 minutes—is to witness Mother Nature’s mischievous side.
14. CATCH A GAME AT DODGER STADIUM
Every ballpark has its own unique flair, but there’s just something instantly classic and wonderfully in-spiring about Dodger Stadium. Carved into Chavez Ravine and overlooking the San Gabriel Mountains, Dodger Stadium has hosted epic matches since 1962. It was here that Kirk hit that home run to win Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, and where Koufax pitched a perfect game and Kershaw a no-hitter against the Rockies. Whether you actually watch the game or just soak in the scene, the setting is what you’ll remember most.
15. SHOP FOR ART IN MARFA
A pinprick on the map of the West Texas desert, Marfa may seem like any other small desert town in passing glance: a county courthouse, a main street lined with local businesses, a singular stop light and a Dairy Queen. But, a closer look at Marfa reveals it for what it truly is: an oasis of art, completely flushed with a free-spirit mentality. Get lost in creative living here as the desert stretches past the horizon, a breathtaking work of art in itself.
16. DRIVE THE ICONIC BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY
Stretching for 469 miles across Virginia and North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the most beautiful drives in America. Although the speed limit is 45, with all the twists and turns, amazing vistas and scenic overlooks, you’ll appreciate that the slow pace allows you to soak up the views. Along the way, spend a few nights at The Swag in Waynesville, North Carolina. This mountaintop hideaway is the perfect place to explore the Great Smoky Mountains with local naturalists, historians and wildlife experts.
17. TAKE THE KIDS ON A RAINFORESTS ADVENTURE
Imagine staying in a 1,000-acre rainforest reserve in Costa Rica, waking to the call of howler monkeys and spotting a scarlet macaw on your way to breakfast. Luxurious, educational and inspiring, Costa Rica is the ideal kid-friendly destination with everything a family needs for the perfect adventure.
18. FIND YOUR FAVORITE HAWAIIAN BEACH
Travel websites often post about the Top 10 beaches in Hawaii, as if ranking these sandy slices of heaven can somehow be objective. The truth is, you need to sink your toes into these beaches yourself to discover which one resonates most with your Aloha soul. Will it be Waikiki Beach on Oahu, where Mai-Tai sippers watch surfers carve shapes into the gnarly waves? Or maybe Kauapea Beach, Kauai’s secret beach, found only after a short, rocky hike? Or will it be dramatic Waipio Valley Beach on Hawaii Island, framed by black sand, active volcanoes, lava fields and valleys? It’s best to try them all.
19. DISCOVER DALI IN ST. PETE
St. Petersburg’s Salvador Dali Museum kept the spirit of the reality-bending artist in mind when they created this space. Original drawings, paintings and sculptures that span the artist’s entire life are displayed on bright, curving walls that make you feel as if you’ve stepped into one of his works. The combination of the two—his work and the imaginative architecture found throughout—is pure visual magic.