May 25, 2021

U.S. News Reveals the 2021-22 Best Vacations Rankings

Scenic spots, beautiful beaches and national parks dominate new and updated lists.

U.S. News & World Report has released its annual rankings of the Best Vacation Destinations. The new 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."

New Zealand's South Island, with its breathtaking mountain views, wide range of extreme sports and stunning golden beaches, takes the top spot on the World's Best Places to Visit. Paris, known for top tourist attractions, legendary cuisine and unique charm, comes in at No. 2. Bora Bora at No. 3, Maui, Hawaii, at No. 4 and Tahiti at No. 5 round out the top five destinations. As more countries reopen to Americans and domestic locales are ready to welcome visitors, the rankings can guide consumers toward planning their next much-anticipated vacation.

Once again, the calming appeal of forests, canyons and mountain ranges lands national parks at the top of the Best Places to Visit in the USA list. 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, boasting lots of East Coast charm, superb whale watching opportunities and easy access to Acadia National Park.

U.S. News analyzed more than 1,100 destinations using a methodology that combines travelers' opinions, as provided by user votes, with expert and editor analysis. Each destination is scored in 10 categories, from sights, culture and food to nightlife, adventure and romance, offering a comprehensive evaluation of each destination.

2021-22 U.S. News & World Report Best Vacations Rankings

World's Best Places to Visit                          Best Places to Visit in the USA
1. South Island, New Zealand 1. Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
2. Paris 2. Yosemite National Park, California
3. Bora Bora, French Polynesia 3. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
4. Maui, Hawaii 4. Maui, Hawaii
5. Tahiti, French Polynesia 5. Glacier National Park, Montana
6. London 6. New York City
7. Rome 7. San Francisco
8. Phuket 8. New Orleans
9. Tokyo 9. Zion National Park
10. Glacier National Park 10. Honolulu

Best Historical Cities to Visit in the USA Best Small Towns to Visit in the USA
1. Washington, D.C. 1. Bar Harbor, Maine
2. Boston 2. Telluride, Colorado
3. Gettysburg, Pennsylvania 3. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
4. Philadelphia 4. Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada
5. Williamsburg, Virginia 5. Sedona, Arizona
6. Jamestown 6. St. Augustine
7. Charleston, SC 7. Moab
8. Plymouth 8. Steamboat Springs
9. New Orleans 9. Cannon Beach
10. Salem, MA 10. Sonoma

Best Places to Visit in Mexico                      Best Places to Visit in the Caribbean
1. Tulum 1. St. Lucia
2. Playa del Carmen 2. British Virgin Islands
3. Cancun 3. Turks and Caicos Islands
4. Cozumel 4. U.S. Virgin Islands
5. Guanajuato 5. St. Vincent and The Grenadines
6. Mexico City 6. Antigua
7. Puebla 7. Barbados
8. Oaxaca 8. Cayman Islands
9. Huatulco 9. Curacao
10. Zacatecas 10. St. Kitts & Nevis

Best Weekend Getaways in the South Best Weekend Getaways in the Midwest
1. Asheville, NC 1. Chicago
2. Gatlinburg 2. Ann Arbor
3. Orlando-Walt Disney World 3. Branson
4. St. Augustine 4. Milwaukee
5. Charleston, SC 5. Indianapolis
6. Miami 6. Minneapolis
7. Destin 7. St. Louis
8. Washington, DC 8. Traverse City
9. Austin 9. Springfield, IL
10. New Orleans 10. Kansas City

Best Mountain Towns to Visit in the USA
1. Gatlinburg
2. Bar Harbor
3. Telluride
4. Breckenridge
5. Jackson Hole
6. Park City
7. Aspen
8. Hot Springs, AR
9. Juneau
10. Mammoth Lakes

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