1. Louisville, Kentucky
2. Fairbanks, Alaska
3. San Juan Islands, Washington
4. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
5. American Samoa
6. Eastern Sierra, California
7. Northern Maine
8. Twin Cities, Minnesota
9. Verde Valley, Arizona
10. Glacier National Park, Montana
Hmm... Interesting choices, Lonely Planet. I've been many places throughout North America, but can honestly say that besides Philadelphia (and we all know how I feel about Philadelphia) and Maine, I actually haven't been to most of these destinations. This doesn't mean that yours truly hasn't been drumming up some travel plans of my own for this year.
Unlike Lonely Planet, I decided to create some rules to make my personal traveling a whole heck of a lot simpler. Where can I get to in a few hours? Having seen many domestic destinations already, I'll save the long flights for my international expeditions. If I can get there in three hours, I can go there for a weekend. And frankly, it's easier to get to Japan than it is Montana.
Angie's Top 10 (Basically) Domestic Destinations for 2013
1. Vancouver, British Columbia - Oh, Canada, our fair neighbor to the north. You may be a few miles from the US border, but I consider you one of ours. Vancouver has been touted as Canada's best city (you hear that, Toronto?) and I'm aching to bike through Stanley Park where I'll dominate the Capilano Suspension Bridge on a gorgeous summer day. Afterwards, I'll meander through Gastown shops. I'm so ready to blow my loonies and toonies on your boutique fashions.
2. Seattle, Washington - Seattle! Coffee-swigging at the world's first Starbucks, scaling the Space Needle, scoping out the buried city of yesteryear in an Underground Tour, and seriously feasting (Pike's Place? Chocolate Indulgence?? Booze-n-Bites??? All of the above?)... What WON'T I do in Seattle? And thankfully, only a ferry ride from Vancouver, I can combine these raincoat-required destinations in one sweet week-long, international romp. Gracias, LP, because I'm gonna give a +1 to the San Juan Islands while I'm in town. Anywhere they refer to as a "Gourmet Archipelago" is on my list!
3. San Antonio, Texas - While everyone else can have their cosmopolitan Dallas or liberal-hipster Austin, San Antonio tops my Most Wanted: Texas list for one reason and one reason only, The San Antonio Riverwalk. Occasionally, girls just wanna have fun. The numerous bars & restaurants, true Southern hospitality, music scene and constant celebrations that go year-round have a reputation that have raised some serious interest. And just 'cause I'm having so much fun doesn't mean I can't get all historical. There's plenty of remembering the Alamo to do before happy hour begins.
4. New Orleans, Louisiana - Oh, N'awlins, the only destination on the list that I've been to before. But, you know, I haven't been there been there. Between the hand grenades on Bourbon Street and air-boating on the bayou, my experiences were great, but I totally failed to foot it through The Big Easy like the big girl that I am. First off, I've never seen Frenchmen Street. You'd think a classy dame like myself would easily prefer the sweet jazz music of Frenchman Street to the crass antics over in the French Quarter, and it's totally true! Alas, work obligations aren't always so friendly (yes, I was paid to sit their sipping Hurricanes). Times have changed, and I'm ready to do it my way. It's not just the jazz. It's the old world architecture. It's the beignets. It's the po'boys. It's freaking Mardi Gras World. It's that Jackson Square palm reader who saw Samantha Brown's twins in her hand. Hold your judgments, s'il vous plait, it's a voodoo-mystical kind of town.
5. Maui, Hawaii - Truth be told, my friends and I blab constantly about hitting up Maui, but we don't have a solid reason why other than "It's not O'ahu." I have absolutely nothing against O'ahu. I love it and want to squeeze the life out of it. In fact, the instant I stepped foot off the airplane, my mental image of heaven morphed into The Aloha State. (Mahalo, O'ahu). So naturally, I want to recreate THAT experience, but ALSO, I want to do all new things. So why re-do Waikiki, Diamond Head and Pearl Harbor, when I can do Wailea and the Road to Hana for the first time? And anyways, Maui has the reputation for being waaaay better than O'ahu, which makes me think these beach snobs throwing stones at the North Shore have never been to Jersey. I kept my last trip super-budget, so when I get to Maui, you know that I'm splurging on snorkeling and the ultimate Hawaiian experience: a LUAU! (And you thought I was going to say "a surfer". Tut, tut).
6. Crater Lake, Oregon - Here's a fun quote from the National Park Service: "Crater Lake has inspired people for thousands of years". That's a fairly bold call coming from a country that was just discovered 500ish years ago, and especially for the state of Oregon. (Columbus never went to Oregon, did he? How about the Pilgrims?) Judging by photographs, it's a totally fair assumption. And there may be cave drawings of inspired wooly mammoths. I spoke too soon. Either way, this little lady has an inkling for inspiration of my own. Walk around. Snap a photo. Gape in awe. Repeat.
7. St. Paul, Minnesota - Screw Minneapolis, Lonely Planet. Only one of the Twin Cities has a reputation for beauty, and it's St. Paul. A walking city with beautiful parks and friendly people, I'd happily stay on this side of the line. Unless, I get bored of all the scenery and Midwest goodness. Then, it's the first bus to the Mall of America for me.
8. Antigua, Guatemala - I'm taking liberties with the idea of "domestic". Fine. BUT, Antigua is only a hop, skip, and a 5-hour flight + 1-hour bus ride from LAX, less than Lonely Planet's 13 1/2 hour trek to the other side of the world. My bad... American Samoa. I'm no stranger to natural beauty, but the 365 perfect white sandy beaches Antigua rubs in our faces makes me feel a little faint. I'm already in fantasy land, scaling Shirley Heights and shopping at St. John's Morning Market. I can already feel that soft sand and warm sun. It's a fair guess that once I hit the beach "fantasy land" is where all the other attractions will realistically stay.
...You know what? I don't have 10 recommendations. I only have eight that are within a few hours. If you need two more, may I suggest hitting up Philadelphia (if it's good enough for Lonely Planet, it's good enough for you) and say hello to my lovely parents. Then, come on over to Los Angeles and hang with me! I'll take you to Lake Hollywood Reservoir for gorgeous snaps with the Hollywood sign, we'll stroll through Downtown during ArtWalk and then we'll cruise along PCH in our perfect weather 'til you explode with envy. Sound good?
* Featured attractions and destinations were entirely my own selection, through personal research and actual desire. I received no compensation, monetary or otherwise, to include them on this list.