While Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2014 covers global must-sees, including Chicago and Texas, here we delve a bit deeper and showcase the top 10 places in the US that should be on travelers’ radars in the coming year. There’s something for all – beachcombers, nature lovers, beer aficionados, history buffs, road trippers, dice rollers – from every corner of the land. Whether quietly emerging destinations or perennial favorites, these places have new or timely angles that make them prime for visiting in 2014. So whatever your upcoming dream vacation, we’ve got some U-S-of-A inspiration for you.
1. Grand Rapids & Lake Michigan’s Gold Coast
Beach bums, beer lovers, and art enthusiasts agree: there’s a lot to love about western Michigan this year. Grand Rapids, Michigan’s second-largest city, was voted best beer city in the US by the national Beer Examiner blog in 2012 and 2013, and its beer-tourism revolution rages on. Over 25 craft breweries pour in the area, and events like Cool Brews Hot Eats and the Winter Beer Festival (both in February), and the Summer Craft Beer Festival (August), keep the city festive year-round. Hops aside, the secret about Grand Rapids’ fabulous art scene is getting out. In addition to the impressive blooms and Rodin sculptures in the Frederik Meijer Gardens, and the excellent Grand Rapids Art Museum housed in a cool LEED Gold certified building, Grand Rapids is home to the world’s largest art competition, ArtPrize, in which more than 1700 creatives display their masterpieces.
A mere 30 miles away sprawls Lake Michigan’s Gold Coast, perhaps the USA’s most unexpected beach getaway. Some argue that these shores rival Hawaii’s and Southern California’s. Along 300 miles of seemingly endless beaches lie sugar-white dunes, wineries, antiquing, U-pick orchards and berry farms, cider houses, Hemingway haunts – you can even go surfing. In Michigan! So if you never thought you could head to the Midwest for a Cape Cod-esque beach vacation, think again.
Our (and everyone else’s) top-pick alehouse is rock-n-roll Founders Brewing Company, while the lake’s Oval Beach wins for smoothest sands.
Here is more information on how to explore Grand Rapids & the Gold Coast.