Have you started planning a trip later in the year, or are you still in the watch and wait stage?
While many of us are still pondering what to do, Tripadvisor®, the world’s largest travel platform, just released its annual Travelers’ Choice® Best of the Best Awards for Destinations, highlighting the Popular, Trending, and Emerging Destinations around the world, as well as a new category for 2021: National Parks.
The awards are based on the quality and quantity of reviews and ratings for accommodations, restaurants, and things to do in destinations worldwide on Tripadvisor over a 12-month period. They reveal where travelers ventured in 2020, while travel was still open, as well as where they dreamed of going while the pandemic kept them stuck at home.
With travel restrictions in place for much of the year, travelers took more local trips closer to home and favored outdoor spots, away from crowded cities. According to a recent survey of Tripadvisor travelers, more than half (52%) say they are more likely to take an outdoor or nature trip than they were before the pandemic.
As a result, the Travelers’ Choice Trending Destinations for 2021 are almost entirely outdoor destinations. Sun Belt destinations dominated the U.S. list, with Gatlinburg, Tennessee, at the heart of Great Smoky Mountains National Park, taking the top spot in the United States.
On the global stage, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, is the number one Trending Destination, seeing the biggest spike in top reviews and ratings last year.
While COVID-19 kept travelers from exploring too far from home last year, it couldn’t stop them from dreaming of the destinations that would be on their go-to list once travel opens up again.
As usual, there are some surprises. Topping the world’s Travelers’ Choice Emerging Destinations list — the places travelers are “saving” on Tripadvisor, and that everyone will be talking about next— is Martinique in the Caribbean.
“Alongside the latest vaccine developments, pent-up demand is prompting the world to think more about travel in 2021,” said Christine Maguire, vice president and general manager, global media business at Tripadvisor.
“But one result of the pandemic may be the destinations they’re interested in. In fact, a recent survey revealed that 74% of travelers will spend more time selecting a destination when planning their next trip. If you’re like me and already imagining your first post-vaccine vacation, this list of travelers’ favorite destinations can serve as your inspiration.”
Top 10 Trending Destinations in the U.S.
Trending Destinations recognize destinations that saw the biggest increase in a combination of positive ratings and reviews over the last year.
- Gatlinburg, Tenn.
- Good for: hiking Great Smoky Mountains National Park, fishing, rafting
- St. Augustine, Fla.
- Good for: history buffs, beaches, wildlife
- Fort Myers Beach, Fla.
- Good for: beach lovers, exploring barrier reefs, kayaking
- Pigeon Forge, Tenn.
- Good for: hiking, camping, rollercoasters and bluegrass at Dollywood
- Moab, Utah
- Good for: mountain biking, rock-climbing, hiking
- Marco Island, Fla.
- Good for: beach lovers, seashell hunting, playing golf
- Estes Park, Colo.
- Good for: wildlife sightings, hiking Rocky Mountain National Park, backcountry skiing
- Hilton Head, S.C.
- Good for: sports enthusiasts, nature lovers, playing golf
- Clearwater, Fla.
- Good for: beach lovers, family activities, sailing
- Jackson, Wyo.
- Good for: skiing, rafting, fly-fishing
Check out the full list of the top Trending Destinations in the world here.
Top 10 Emerging Destinations in the World
Emerging Destinations showcase the spots with the greatest year-over-year increase in “saves” on Tripadvisor around the world. Different from the other categories, which highlight where travelers have already visited, the Emerging list identifies where they want to visit. These are the destinations travelers were dreaming of while they were stuck at home all year — and where they may go next.
- Panama City Beach, Fla., United States
- Armacao dos Buzios, Brazil
- Holbox Island, Mexico
- St Ives, United Kingdom
- Mazatlan, Mexico
- Colorado Springs, Colo., United States
- Shoalhaven, Australia
- Wroclaw, Poland
- Mudgee, Australia
Check out the full list of top Emerging Destinations in the world here.
Top 10 National Parks in the U.S.
Ken Burn’s in his PBS series, called our national parks “America’s Best Idea.” And sure enough, when indoor activities shuttered in 2020, travelers headed to the great outdoors. Here are their favorite National Parks in the United States.
- Grand Teton National Park. Wyo.
- Grand Canyon National Park, Ariz.
- Zion National Park, Utah
- Denali National Park and Preserve, Alaska
- Yellowstone National Park, Wyo.
- Glacier National Park, Mont.
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
- Great Smoky Mountains National Park, N.C.
- Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
- Yosemite National Park, Calif.
Check out the full list of the top National Parks in the world here.
Popular Destinations include the locations that travelers raved about most on Tripadvisor in the past year, comprising iconic world cities. Bali is the most popular destination in the world for 2021, rising from #4 last year to dethrone London. Check out the full list of Popular Destinations here.