Cheers to 2017 and a New Year to check more must-travel places off your list. From quick weekend getaways with the family to fulfilling travel bucket lists in the United States, our travel-savvy Traveling Moms are back, sharing their best places to travel in 2017. We’ve also included personal been-there-done-that tips to help make the most of our favorite destinations.
Best Places to Travel in 2017
Last year, we shared our 2016 best places to travel. Traveling Moms are ready to help you explore in 2017 with another round up of best places to travel in 2017. We’ve been there, and we want to inspire our readers to pack up the family, create a girlfriends getaway, or escape with that special someone for a romantic vacation. Shake out your map, and get ready to be inspired to book your next vacation in 2017.
Best Places to Travel in the United States
Best places to travel in 2017 include these United States destinations from Maine to California and North Dakota to Alabama. Read on for Traveling Mom approved destinations across the U.S.
East Coast Destinations
Newport, Rhode Island: A Year-Round Destination
Mindful TravelingMom Robin Hutson says that Newport, Rhode Island is not just a summertime destination. It offers a wintertime experience, particularly at Christmas, that’s perfect for families to celebrate the season with the greatest enthusiasm. Throughout December weekends, the area’s event calendar is filled with family activities.
Newport’s history mixes well with a stunning water setting. Both families and adults can find ample things to do in a weekend. Newport gets very crowded and popular during the summer peak weekends, Instead, consider midweek and shoulder season visits, best to enjoy uncrowded and warm waters of Easton Beach next to the famous Cliff Walk, the excellent dining around Bowen’s Wharf, and better deals on accommodations.
Traveling Mom TIP: If traveling with children, check Newport, Rhode Island, calendars to avoid the food and musical festival period. Families benefit from many planned Christmas and Easter activities in the off-season.
Rockland, Maine: A Haven For Artists, Heaven For Foodies and Paradise for Sailors
Few places on the east coast conjure up iconic images the way Maine does, according to Terri Marshall, Globetrotting Traveling Grandmom. Lighthouses dot the shoreline, lobster roll stands line the roads and Windjammer Sailboats cruise through the waters offshore. In Rockland, Maine, discover a world encompassed in a small town that embodies all of these images. From the boutique hotel 250 Main that showcases work from local artists to the best breakfast you’ll ever eat at the Home Kitchen Café, Rockland is a quiet little town that will leave you wanting more.
TravelingMom Tip: If sailing is on your agenda, a Windjammer cruise is waiting for you in Rockland, Maine.
Take the Family to Philly: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Perhaps it’s no surprise that Sarah Ricks, Philadelphia TravelingMom chose her own city as one of the best places to travel in 2017. But how can one deny that this city is most definitely an American classic? Philadelphia has a compact, walkable downtown with great art and science museums, colonial and 19th-century architecture, and a gleaming modern skyline that you can see for free from spots around the city.
TravelingMom Tip: Skip the cheesesteaks and check out Philadelphia’s thriving restaurants.
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Hilton Head Island, located in the most southern-most part of the South Carolina Lowcountry, is shaped like a perfect foot. According to Teronya Holmes, Storytelling TravelingMom, this is fitting because this is the place to take your family if you’re looking to go footloose and fancy-free!
No matter what you fancy, you’ll find it here: outdoor activities – beaches, kayaking, golfing, biking, tennis, fishing, and water sports; cultural experiences – museums, nature tours, farmer’s markets, and festivals; and of course fabulous culinary experiences from the freshest caught seafood to five-course experiences to tempt the palate.
Families will find an array of accommodations from which to choose for their stay. From RV sites on the waterways to luxurious oceanfront resorts, to even a Disney Vacation Club Resort, this ensures this Lowcountry island “foot” is a place to which you’ll always dream of “heading” back!
TravelingMom Tip: Not to miss: Every Tuesday night during summer, Shelter Cover Harbour presents Harbourfest, a family-friendly festival on the waterfront featuring live music by Shannon Tanner, games for kids, vendors, and fireworks to end the night; and Harbour Town at The Sea Pines Resort is a beautiful yacht basin offering boutiques, dining, craft shops, art galleries, boating excursions, water sports, nightly entertainment by local island favorite, Gregg Russell, and, the iconic red and white-striped Harbour Town lighthouse.
Iconic Beach Destination: Daytona Beach, Florida
Ever crave an iconic beach destination …. but needed to skip some of the sunshine? Christine Tibbetts, Cultural Traveling Mom, says you must visit Daytona Beach. Skin protection’s not as much fun as all day in the sand and surf with the kids, or with a book, but the museums and galleries in Florida’s Daytona Beach enticed TravelingMom’s fair-skinned journalist.
TravelingMom Tip: Since Daytona is such a famous Florida beach, play with simple state maps under paintings in the Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art. Pinpoint the locations you and the kids recognize in this collection of Florida-only paintings.
Luxury, Family and Beaches: Sarasota County, Florida
Magical Walt Disney World Vacation
We’d be remiss if we didn’t include Walt Disney World on our list of best places to visit in 2017. Because after all, a Disney vacation is magical for both kids and parents.
There are any number of reasons to visit Walt Disney World, but Traveling Grandmom Diana Rowe thought it best to give you Kids Top 12 Picks, straight from her granddaughter’s pen to your eyes.
TravelingMom Tips: Traveling Grandmom’s grandkids love riding Walt Disney World’s roller coasters at night. And another not to miss attraction…Make sure to etch out some time to experience Disney Springs.
Southern State Destinations
Quaint and Coastal: Fairhope, Alabama
The quaint coastal town of Fairhope, Alabama is one of the best places to visit in 2017, according to Caroline Knowles, Travel Agent TravelingMom. Conveniently located just miles from the Gulf of Mexico and a couple of hours from New Orleans, this is the perfect destination to kick off your shoes and unwind. Whether you are looking for a luxury golf vacation, a beach getaway, a boutique shopping extravaganza, or a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, this is the place for you.
Grand Rapids, Michigan: Combine Beer and Art
If you like the idea of combining beer and art, then, according to Cathy Bennett Kopf, Optimism Traveling Mom, put Grand Rapids, Michigan, on your must-visit list for 2017. The city has over 40 craft breweries to sample and several offer tours of their production facilities.
TravelingMom Tip: The best place to walk off those beers is the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park. Trails dotted with significant pieces by world-famous artists meander by waterfalls and through a Japanese garden.
Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul
Long Weekend Traveling Mom Kendra Pierson picks the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul. While it’s thought as a winter wonderland, that’s only part of the Twin Cities’ story. Any season is a good season to visit with so many year-round activities.
The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul officially are home to more than 10,000 lakes with over 100 lakes in the metro area. Start with outdoor activities on one of their 10,000 lakes or the mighty Mississippi River.
Looking for more indoor fun? Check that off the list with more than enough shopping at the Mall of America.
If you’re a sports fan, there are 11 professional teams so there’s a sport for any fan. There’s just so much to do and best of all, getting here is easy with a maximum 4-hour flight from anywhere in the US.
Traveling Mom Tip: One of the most impressive outdoor sites in the Twin Cities is Minnehaha Falls. It’s a 53-foot waterfall off the Minnehaha Creek that you can follow all the way to the Mississippi River.
Wisconsin Northwoods Deliver Regional Experiences
Picking one big county with lots of little communities is a good 2017 travel notion in order to delve deep into the personality of a distinctive American region. Cultural Heritage TravelingMom tried that in the top of Wisconsin, a region locals like to call the Northwoods. She says it works summer, spring, autumn and winter.
This is a land of forests for hiking (walking and strolling OK too), lakes that form chains for all sorts of sports, and supper clubs replete with tradition and invitations to linger with friends for hours.
TravelingMom Tip: Stay in family-owned lodges with the intention to chat with the proprietors because they’ve got stories of generations—family tales about living in the Northwoods.
Forests in Wisconsin’s Northwoods feature changing colors year-round. Find these two at the Discovery Center. Photo by Christine Tibbetts, Cultural Heritage TravelingMom.
City of Presidents: Rapid City, South Dakota
Rapid City, South Dakota offers something for everyone with its central location, great family attractions, and of course free fun things to do. Traveling Grandmom Diana Rowe suggests starting your adventure at Main Street Square, smack in the middle of downtown.
Make it a scavenger hunt in Rapid City, also known as the City of Presidents. See how many of the 42 life-sized bronze statues you can find of the United States’ past presidents. Pick up a free Walking Tour Map at the Visitor information Centers, or download an Interactive Walking Guide.
And of course, Rapid City is the perfect destination to explore the Black Hills.
Traveling Mom Tip: Check the summer schedule for free concerts and family friendly entertainment. Kids can splash away in the fountains to beat the summer heat. In the winter, the Square turns into a FREE skating rink.
Discover the Undiscovered: Medora, North Dakota
Amanda Williams, Rural TMOM, says Medora, North Dakota gets her vote for best places to travel in 2017. This relatively “undiscovered” portion of American is often overlooked. And she gets why. It’s a tiny oasis-like area in the middle of oil fields, prairie potholes, and generally flat country.
But the landscape is awe-inspiring, so much so that Theodore Roosevelt felt moved to set the area aside for future generations and inspired much of his conservation spirit.
If you’re planning to explore the park, the South Unit is fantastic and more popular, but do not discount the North Unit, It’s MUCH quieter and has fantastic hiking. It’s also where you’ll find the Longhorn cattle which play a role in the rich history of the area and the ties to Theodore Roosevelt.
If you have time, take in the one-hour performance portraying Theodore Roosevelt by Joe Wiegand. It’s anything but boring and a wonderful history lesson!
Traveling Mom Tip: For a town with a population under 100, there are many mouth-watering dining opportunities, various lodging options including the boutique, famed Rough Riders Hotel, and entertainment to boot. The Medora Musical is extremely family friendly.
Let It Snow! Aspen-Snowmass, Colorado
Per the Farmers Almanac and the Opensnow App, 2017 will be a banner year for snow in Colorado. If you are a skiing family or want to book your first family ski vacation, do it now. My favorite? Aspen Snowmass. It’s perfect for every level skier and has an incredible ski school. Even better? The apres ski and dining options make it even more fun for parents.
TravelingMom Tip: If you connect through Denver, air fares are a fraction of the cost of a direct flight to Aspen. Check The Gant for room deals.
Take the Family to Denver, Colorado
There’s a reason Denver makes all the best of the best lists, including Lonely Planet’s Best Destination in the U.S. Traveling Grandmom Diana Rowe (that’s me!) is lucky to live in such an amazing destination, overflowing with family friendly activities. With its stunning mountain views and downtown skyline, Denver, the capital city of Colorado, is a great place to take the family.
From museums to restaurants to simply walking the pedestrian-only 16th Street Mall, and you’ll discover family-friendly things to do in Denver. Within walking (or short driving distance), your family can enjoy the Denver Zoo, Downtown Aquarium, Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Center for Performing Arts Complex, and more.
TravelingMom Tip: Downtown Denver is a family friendly, walkable city with multiple hotels that cater to kids. Our favorite is the Curtis Hotel. A stay at this hotel kicks off your fun family adventure with a 5 & Dime candy store, elevators with funky music, and a disco brunch.
Small Town Charm: Golden, Colorado
Looking for small town charm in Colorado? This Traveling Grandmom has you covered. Golden is just 20 minutes west of downtown Denver. This small town welcomes families with a wide range of activities from hiking, biking, tubing, cultural attractions, museums, and Old West history.
You know you’ve landed in a friendly destination when the welcome sign on Main Street says “Howdy Folks!” Discover 7 family-friendly things to do in Golden, but that’s only the beginning of all the fun things to do in Golden.
TravelingMom Tip: Just outside of Golden, don’t miss the chance to visit Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre.With its natural geological wonders and the best views of the red sandstone formations, over 250 million years old and 300 feet high, this will truly be a memorable hike with your family.
Adventure, Sports, and Culture: Phoenix, Arizona
Searching for a warm destination? Teaching TravelingMom Kirsten Maxwell, says look no further than the Phoenix metropolitan area. Enjoy the Arizona Science Center, Children’s Museum, Rawhide Old West Town, or the McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park. Those looking for adventure will love hiking in Papago Park, taking a hot air balloon ride over the Valley, or riding a boat on Tempe Town Lake.
Traveling Mom Tip: Phoenix also has a stellar dining scene, major league baseball in the spring, and endless opportunities for fun in the sun!
Western States Destinations
All About the Outdoors: Moab, Utah
It is hard to imagine a better place for an outdoor vacation than Moab, Utah, and why Yvonne Jasinski, Credit Card TravelingMom, picks this as one of the best places to travel in 2017. Located between red rock marvels of Arches National Park, Canyonlands National Park, and Deadhorse Point State Park, it’s no surprise that Moab became a mecca for adventure seekers. These all offer easy access to the breathtaking La Sal Mountains where you can catch a break from the heat of the desert.
Traveling Mom Tip: The town of Moab itself is charming and offers lodging for every budget as well as excellent dining choices.
Coastline, Beaches, and Endless Activities: San Diego, California
With 70 miles of coastline, San Diego offers endless beaches and gorgeous sunset views, and according to Teaching TravelingMom Kirsten Maxwell, there is no better family friendly destination. The city is home to the San Diego Zoo, Legoland, Balboa Park (with 15 museums), Scripps Aquarium, SeaWorld, Safari Park, and the USS Midway. If that isn’t enough, families will love the friendly locals, delicious dining options, and opportunities to explore nature at places like Torrey Pines State Park and La Jolla Cove, home to the Children’s Pool and its famous harbor seals.
One Hill of a City: San Francisco, California
Wine, Food, Arts and Wellness: Napa Valley, California
Billy Joel sings, “A bottle of red, a bottle of white/Whatever kind of mood you’re in tonight.” Sherry Boswell, Melodious TravelingMom says, she’s always in the mood for Napa Valley! Its allure is the wineries to be sure. I learned more about the art and science behind the winemaking from our Napa wine tour than ever before. The heart of Napa beats with a passion for wine, food, arts, and wellness, and that’s why this is one of the best places to travel in 2017.
But, besides Napa, you also have many other regions to explore like Sonoma, the Russian River Valley, the coast, and state parks with giant redwood trees.
TravelingMom Tip: Arrange a private wine tour to gain VIP access to vineyards and behind the scenes activities.
Pacific Northwest Destinations
Nature in Urban Setting: Portland, Oregon
Where will you travel in 2017? We hope that we’ve inspired you with our Best Places to Travel!