U.S. News & World Report’s annual rankings of the Best Vacation Destinations, deems New Zealand’s South Island, with its breathtaking mountain views, wide range of extreme sports and stunning golden beaches, as at the top of the world for its World’s Best Places to Visit list. Paris, known for top tourist attractions, legendary cuisine and unique charm, comes in at No. 2, while Bora Bora, Maui, Hawaii, and Tahiti round out the top five destinations. As more countries reopen to Americans and domestic locales are ready to welcome visitors, the rankings can help would be travelers choose their next spot on the map.
The rankings highlight the World’s Best Places to Visit, as well as region-specific lists like the Best Places to Visit in the USA and niche lists like the Best Small Towns to Visit in the USA. In addition to these legacy rankings, new lists include the Best Weekend Getaways in the South, the Best Weekend Getaways in the Midwest and the Best Mountain Towns to Visit in the USA.
“Over the past few years, we’ve seen an influx of travelers looking to escape to the slow pace of nature, researching destinations like well-known national parks, scenic beaches and small mountain towns. The trend continues this year, especially as tourists continue to adhere to CDC travel guidelines and seek vacation spots with space to spread out,” said Christine Smith, senior travel editor at U.S. News. “The U.S. News Best Vacations lists highlight a wide variety of destinations both close to home and abroad, helping tourists find the best spot to match their interests and wallet.”
Topping the Best Places to Visit in the USA list, the calming appeal of forests, canyons and mountain ranges lands national parks weigh heavily. Grand Canyon National Park tops the ranking, followed by Yosemite National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Maui, Hawaii, and Glacier National Park. The unmatched views at each destination provide a quiet escape from the chaos of the home office. The new list of the Best Mountain Towns to Visit in the USA also offers the best of both worlds to travelers looking to hike or bike while still enjoying the comforts of small-town life. Gatlinburg, Tennessee, leads that list, followed by Bar Harbor, Maine, and Telluride, Colorado, rounding out the top three.
For those who wish to stay close to home or just want a quick escape, the lists of the Best Weekend Getaways in the South and the Best Weekend Getaways in the Midwest offer spots known for their welcoming locals and ample activities, including Asheville, North Carolina, and Chicago. Adventurers with a bit more time on their hands can explore a spot on the Best Small Towns to Visit in the USA. Bar Harbor, Maine, leads this list, if only for its East Coast charm, superb whale watching opportunities and easy access to Acadia National Park.
2021-22 U.S. News & World Report Best Vacations Rankings
World’s Best Places to Visit
1. South Island, New Zealand
3. Bora Bora, French Polynesia
4. Maui, Hawaii
5. Tahiti, French
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
Best Places to Visit in the USA
1. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
2. Yosemite National Park, California
3. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
4. Maui, Hawaii
5. Glacier National Park, Montana
Best Historical Cities to Visit in the USA
1. Washington, D.C.
3. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
5. Williamsburg, Virginia
Bar Harbor, Maine
Best Small Towns to Visit in the USA
1. Bar Harbor, Maine
2. Telluride, Colorado
3. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
4. Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada
5. Sedona, Arizona
Best Places to Visit in Mexico
2. Playa del Carmen
Best Places to Visit in the Caribbean
1. St. Lucia
2. British Virgin Islands
3. Turks and Caicos Islands
4. U.S. Virgin Islands
5. St. Vincent and The Grenadines