There’s a reason why certain destinations become more popular than others: the sunshine, the people, the food, the culture and, at least when it comes to booking your travel, the value.
After all, vacations aren’t cheap these days, and if you’re going to drop that paycheck (or two) on a memorable experience, you’ll want to get the most bang for your buck.
If you want to get out of town this year and looking for somewhere to go, we’ve rounded up some of the most loved destinations, according to people who book on Expedia.
These cities are super accessible no matter where you live (with daily flights flying in and out of most airports), and offer something for everyone, whether you’re looking for action-packed adventure, or just some quiet time to relax and unwind.
Once you’ve decided on where you want to go, you’ll want to get familiar with Expedia.com. We spoke to a number of travelers who told us that Expedia is one of their favorite travel hacks, thanks to the site’s daily destination deals, bonus perks and VIP access to hotels that get you things like room upgrades, free WiFi and free parking. Another tip: sign up for a (free) account on Expedia.com and you’ll unlock members-only discounts and access to a ton of deals before anyone else. (Full disclosure: I’ve been collecting Expedia member points over the past year and it was enough to knock $100 off the price of a 5-star hotel room in Vegas just the other weekend).
An insider tip from Expedia: you’ll get more value booking a package with flights and accommodations together, as opposed to booking each part separately. The more you add on, the deeper the discount. They’re not kidding either. The folks at Expedia say travelers booking through their site have saved a total of almost $40 million over the years just by adding a hotel to their trip.
Ready to start traveling? Here are five of the most-loved destinations on Expedia.com to visit this year.
1. Las Vegas
Everyone knows Vegas for its strip of luxe casinos, but there’s more to Sin City than gambling and partying. Some of music’s biggest stars are now holding residencies in Vegas, from Lady Gaga to Celine Dion, and new shows from Christina Aguilera and the Backstreet Boys. Vegas has also become a hotspot for the foodie crowd, thanks to mainstays like Nobu and Le Cirque, and popular chefs like Roy Choi, whose “Best Friend” restaurant at the Park MGM is one of the hottest new reservations in town. And if you really want to get to know the real Vegas, hop in an Uber and venture downtown to check out Fremont Street, and the Container Park – a shopping and gallery district made up of repurposed shipping containers.
If you’re looking for more of a quiet getaway, the city now offers a number of hotels that are casino-free, and ideal for relaxing afternoons by the pool. Most hotels also offer in-room spa packages, that can include everything from a couples massage to a rejuvenating facial (Our tip: ask the hotel to send up a bottle of champagne before your in-room treatment to really live that luxe life).
Miami often gets a bad rap when it comes to tourism, but there’s more to the Magic City than buff bods and Bacardi. Sure you’ll find some of the best nightlife in the country, but there’s also a burgeoning arts and music scene too. Just consider how some of the world’s biggest artists and art collectors descend on Miami every year for Art Basel. It would take you an entire day to explore the entire network of street art, pop-ups and galleries around the city, not to mention its famous Art Deco architecture, which makes Miami a gorgeous town to drive through.
Another draw: the warm climate makes Miami a destination for wellness tourism, with plenty of options for fitness, yoga, outdoor activities, watersports or just an indulgent spa day with the gentle ocean breeze coming in through the window. Our suggestion: get to know your hotel concierge as soon as you check in. Most of them can customize a one-of-a-kind experience for you, from a sunset dinner for two by the beach, to a chauffeured shopping trip to Bal Harbour, to a day-long excursion along Biscayne Bay or to Key West in your own chartered yacht. This is definitely a city where the magic happens.
3. New York
New York may be home to nine million people, but believe it or not, there are still a number of places in the city where you can get away from the crowds and find your bliss. Among our favorite sites and destinations: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, of course, and the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where you can get lost among 50+ acres of stunning flowers and foliage.
Of course, New York is known for its culture, and while everyone should see a Broadway show and go to Times Square at least once, you’ll also want to spend a day riding the subway through some of the city’s more diverse neighborhoods, like Chinatown, Little Italy, Greektown (in Astoria, Queens), Jackson Heights (home to Filipino, Nepalese, Bangladeshi and South American shops and restaurants) and “Curry Row,” a small Indian neighborhood famous for its South Asian foods and fashion on Manhattan’s east side.
After a day of exploring, settle in for a drink at one of the city’s many hidden cocktail bars (hint: set your Google Maps to the Lower East Side), or explore the city’s vibrant music and theater scene, with local bands and troupes taking the stage every night across the five boroughs.
4. Los Angeles
“It never rains in LA,” or at least that’s what the locals say. They’re not wrong: with almost 300 days of sunshine every year, there’s never a bad time to visit the City of Angels.
If you’re going to visit LA, you’ll want to enjoy the weather and spend as much time as you can outdoors. That’s easy to do, with plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy, like a beach day in Malibu, a hike up the many canyons, a visit to the Getty Museum, or a stroll through the Arts District downtown. For food, pick a place where you can sit outside and enjoy the people watching. Fortunately for you, most restaurants in LA also come with massive patios. You can’t go wrong with Yamashiro, an old Japanese restaurant perched high in the Hollywood Hills, or the buzzy NoMad Hotel and its rooftop pool and bar downtown.
You can go #SoLA with a day strolling Melrose Avenue, with its buzzy, Instagram-worthy murals, or mingle with the hipsters on Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice. Looking for something more low-key? Spend a day on Main Street in Santa Monica or West 3rd Street in Beverly Grove, with its mix of independently-owned shops, cafes and fitness studios, where everyone walks out feeling like a local.
5. San Francisco
San Francisco is known for its impressive sites (think: The Golden Gate Bridge and Fisherman’s Wharf) but if you’re looking for great, farm-to-table cuisine and a eclectic coffee culture, few places are as vibrant right now as SF. Our suggestion: spend an afternoon strolling Hayes Valley neighborhood, home to unique fashion boutiques, gift shops, apothecaries, cafes and restaurants. You’ll find the fresh California cuisine and top-rated wines you’ve come to expect from the city, in diverse space that run the gamut from modern and airy, to retro and bohemian. The city’s latest obsession: toast (yes, really). From avocado toast to fresh-baked bread topped with homemade jams and spreads, people are lining up at places like ABV and The Mill to cure their carb cravings over an order of specialty toasts and cool (or warm) drink.
Of course, a visit to San Fran wouldn’t be complete without dim sum in the city’s storied Chinatown neighborhood – one of the earliest settlements for Chinese immigrants in North America. Choose from the old school dim sum cart style, or try a more modern approach, where everything is made to order from the menu.
Wind down at night with a visit to San Fran’s many bars and cafes, where you might encounter a live jazz performance, poetry reading, or even open mic karaoke. For something a little more turned up, venture to the city’s popular Castro neighborhood to dance the night away.