Updated: Dec 30, 2021
While 2020 threw a lot at everyone and it's good to remember the year, let's go into 2021 with positive attitudes! Life may not completely return to normal or even resemble normalcy, but 2021 can still be a good year! If anything, 2020 made everyone adapt, especially when it comes to travel. Who knows if it will be safe to travel the world in 2021, but let's have some hope. I've put together this list of 21 places to visit in 2021 with uncertainties and precautions in mind. Don't forget that you must decide if it is safe for you to travel and remember to follow the rules wherever you go! Without further ado... 21 places to visit in 2021:
1. Salem, Massachusetts
Salem is a quaint, colonial town (not far from Boston) known for witch trials. Salem has so many historical buildings and cemeteries to visit, and it is home to the oldest continuously operating museum in the US, the Peabody Essex Museum! Learn about the Salem Witch Trials at the Witch House, a home owned by James Corwin who was involved in the trials. Salem is a great place to visit since it is small and has beautiful parks and beaches where you can social distance!
2. Big Bend National Park/Big Bend Ranch State Park, Texas
Big Bend National Park and Big Bend Ranch State Park are both beautiful and offer visitors a breath of fresh air away from other people. There are so many opportunities for hiking, fishing, horseback riding, biking, four-wheel-driving, canoeing, and birding! I also highly recommend ziplining in Lajitas!! It's so much fun and there are incredible views from the Lajitas area! From Candelilla Cafe at Lajitas Golf Resort you can see views of the golf course and mountains!
3. Silverton, Colorado
Silverton, Colorado is an old mining town in the southwestern corner of Colorado, surrounded by mountains. Silverton has a mining tour, train rides, jeep trails, and fun outdoor activities, like hiking trails, skiing, and more! There is so much to offer in and around Silverton; it is near ghost towns and other mountain towns, like Telluride. It's a beautiful place to visit and take in some mountain air!
4. Vicksburg, Mississippi
What was once a Civil War battleground is now a small, historical town! Vicksburg, Mississippi was home to the Battle of Vicksburg (I bet you couldn't have guessed that one! hehe), a pivotal point in the Civil War. Today, you can visit the Vicksburg National Military Park and walk around the battleground! Vicksburg has more than just the battleground, though. They also have museums, casinos, and shopping! Explore the USS Cairo Gunboat and Museum or the Jesse Brent Lower Mississippi River Museum before doing some shopping in downtown Vicksburg!
5. Lead, South Dakota
Before I visited South Dakota, I didn't realize how much I would enjoy it! Lead is the perfect home base in western South Dakota. It's surrounded by Black Hills National Forest and it is close enough to Badlands National Park, Hot Springs (mammoth site), Devil's Tower in Wyoming, Spearfish, Keystone, Mount Rushmore, and Custer State Park for plenty of day trips! Venture to Badlands National Park and have a picnic after a morning of exploring. See the presidents at Mount Rushmore, then make your way Rushmore Tramway Adventures for some ziplining. There are also many opportunities for outdoor activities in the national forest!
6. Red River, New Mexico
One time when my family was vacationing in New Mexico, we decided to go on a day trip to Red River. Turns out that we made a great decision! Red River has summer activities, like hiking, fishing, and jeeping, and winter activities, like skiing, tubing, and snowshoeing. There are also some cool stores in town! If you go in the summer, definitely try mountain tubing; it's a lot of fun! Another really fun summer activity is whitewater rafting!
7. Colorado Springs, Colorado
Colorado Springs is a bit larger than some of the other towns on this list, but they have plenty of outdoor activities! I love Colorado Springs because there is so much to do there! They have Garden of the Gods and Seven Falls in town, and there is also plenty to do in the surrounding area. Manitou Springs has a great walking/shopping area, some nice parks, and Manitou Incline. There is also Pikes Peak, which you can drive up, and North Pole (a cool family amusement park), where you can play games, ride rides, and meet Santa!
8. Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee
With waterfalls, fishing, hiking, mountains, and historic buildings, Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the place to be! There are incredible views, around 800 miles of trails, so many overlooks, and miles and miles of streams in the Smokies! You are also bound to see some wildlife in the park! We saw bears (from a distance) when we were there and we hiked to some beautiful waterfalls!
9. Chincoteague Island, Virginia
On Chincoteague Island, you can relax at the beach or go hiking or biking around the island. Take a boat or kayak tour or try your hand at crabbing or clamming while you're there! There is also a fun, little amusement park for families (with mini golf)! While you're spending some time chilling at the beach with friends or family, you might even see some wild horses!
10. Williamsburg, Virginia
Home to the largest outdoor living museum in the U.S., Williamsburg is full of history and charm. At Colonial Williamsburg you'll have the opportunity to learn about colonial life and explore historical buildings and an art museum. Colonists (employees decked out in 18th-century clothing) show visitors techniques and tools that were used in Colonial Williamsburg and you're able to buy items produced there! For dinner, head to Shields Tavern and chow down on Mrs. Shield's 3-course supper (cup of soup, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, green beans, and ice cream)!
11. Tombstone, Arizona
Walk the streets of Tombstone where cowboys and miners once roamed! Visit the O.K. Corral to see Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, and others in a reenactment and learn about Tombstone. You can also take different tours, like history tours, ghost tours, mining tours, or ghost town tours. Don't forget to watch the movie Tombstone before visiting the town!
12. Port Aransas, Texas
In Port Aransas, you're on island time! From boat tours and dolphin tours to fishing, Port A has all of the beach/water activities. You can even go stand up paddle boarding or kayaking! Mustang Island State Park, near Port Aransas, is also a great place for relaxing on the beach, fishing, and birding. Between Mustang Island and Port Aransas there are 18 miles of shoreline for you to enjoy!
13. Avery Island, Louisiana
You know TABASCO® sauce? Avery Island is the birthplace of the delicious pepper sauce that you put on your potato hash! Visit the island and you'll be able to tour the Tabasco factory to see how the sauce is made. You'll also have the opportunity to shop for everything Tabasco (even Tabasco jelly beans), eat at the Tabasco restaurant, and tour the Jungle Gardens (where there are beautiful plants and massive oak trees)!
14. Brenham, Texas
I remember occasionally going to Brenham as a kid, putting on paper Blue Bell Ice Cream hats and touring the factory. As an ice cream fanatic, I loved every minute of it! The Blue Bell factory is really cool (no pun intended) and you can get a scoop from the ice cream parlor at the end of the tour. Speaking of blue bells (yes, the ice cream company was named after the state flower), Brenham is full of bluebonnets in the springtime and it is absolutely stunning!! After you've eaten some delicious ice cream, go for a drive and take in the fields of bluebonnets and cattle. Also near Brenham is the birthplace of Texas: Washington-on-the-Brazos! Head over to Washington-on-the-Brazos State Historic Site to see where the Texas Declaration of Independence was signed!
15. Lancaster County, Pennsylvania
You can experience some very unique things in Lancaster County, home to the largest Amish population in the U.S. Learn about the Amish way of life at Amish Village or go for a horse and buggy ride. Afterward, buy some hand-made products and eat some good food! There are plenty of restaurants with PA Dutch food, like chicken pot pie and shoofly pie, and other food, like fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and veggies.
16. Roswell, New Mexico
Roswell is out of this world (hehehe)! An object crashed in the Roswell area in the 1940s; some believe it was a UFO with aliens. Check out the International UFO Museum & Research Center to learn all about alien or UFO theories and possible (?) sightings. Roswell also has other museums, some parks, and a wildlife refuge!
17. Angelfire, New Mexico
As a ski town, Angelfire offers many winter activities, like skiing (obviously), snowboarding, tubing, and ice fishing! The rest of the year, you can hike, bike, and zip line in Angelfire and the surrounding area! I've been both in the summer and in the winter and can say that Angelfire is great anytime of year! When we visited in the winter, we went on a sleigh ride dinner tour, which was really cool and fun! I also recommend doing a snowmobile tour!
18. Stone Mountain, Georgia
Stone Mountain is a town near Atlanta with a giant (you guessed it!) mound of stone. There are carvings of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and "Stonewall" Jackson on the side of the mountain. Stone Mountain Park, which has a few thousand acres and offers a variety of activities, puts on a laser show on the mountain; the laser show is awesome! During the day, take a train ride around the mountain or a cable car ride to the top of the mountain and explore the 18th and 19th century buildings in the historic square before settling down to watch the Lasershow Spectacular!
19. Charleston, South Carolina
Charm, history, fun... Charleston has it all! See Fort Sumter, where the Civil War started, and the Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon, important buildings in American history. Visit Drayton Hall to learn about plantations or visit one of Charleston's many museums. There are also ghost, history, and other interesting, informative tours! Enjoy a day at the beach and don't forget to try some delicious food!!
20. Savannah, Georgia
With cobblestone streets and Spanish Moss hanging from the oaks, Savannah will reel you in. Take a trolley tour to explore Savannah's beautiful parks, cemeteries, and churches and learn all about the history of this southern city. Like Charleston, Savannah is a great place to take a ghost tour! Stop by the City Market for some good food before learning about Savannah and U.S. history in Savannah's Historic District or at the nearby Fort Pulaski National Monument! Before leaving town, spend a day at the beach on Tybee Island or stroll down River Street and do some shopping!
21. Pigeon Forge, Tennessee
Last but not least, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee! I'm a big Dolly Parton fan so I would say Dollywood is a must when visiting Pigeon Forge, but there is definitely more to Pigeon Forge than Dollywood. Learn all about the iconic Titanic ship and see artifacts at the world's largest Titanic museum attraction. You can also try some Tennessee moonshine and learn how it's made at the Ole Smoky Moonshine distillery in the neighboring town of Gatlinburg!
While you may decide to travel to one or more of these places, make sure you check to see if certain activities, parks, or businesses are closed due to COVID-19. Like I said before, we should be hopeful for 2021, but always put your health and safety first!