What do a Georgian swamp, a ghost town in Utah, and an island paradise all have in common? They all rank among the recently released “Forbes Best Places to Travel 2023” list. Among the 50 destinations worldwide, Forbes has chosen 11 places in the U.S., most of which might surprise you. (Don’t worry if you haven’t even heard of a few of them)
Forbes has stated that this list was chosen to be intentionally unique and set out to feature destinations that offer both a good value, but also numerous activities for travelers. From weekend getaways to long-haul treks, the list truly encompasses it all.
Among the 50 worldwide destinations, here are the 11 U.S. picks for “Best Places to Travel 2023”:
While Atlanta might get the glamor, it’s Georgia’s other city of Athens that’s full of eclectic energy and creativity. Nicknamed the “Classic City,” Athens can offer visitors a world-renowned music and arts scene. Stroll along a downtown that has been restored to its vibrant glory of yesteryear, and gaze at the architecture, and take in a first-class college football game while rooting on the Georgia Bulldogs.
Chattanooga has recently been gaining momentum for American travelers looking for a getaway that’s both a bit unique as well as accessible. Nestled among the Tennessee River and in the Signal and Lookout mountains, nature lovers have many options here.
From hiking to tasting rooms at some of the area’s many wineries, breweries, or distilleries, there are different activities for everyone. Popular choices for Chattanooga include exploring the purple caves of Ruby Falls or boarding the historic Tennessee Railroad for a sightseeing ride.
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Set on the eastern edge of the Rocky Mountains, at an elevation of just over 6,000 feet, Colorado Springs has been a long-time favorite, with travelers looking for nature and action. Offering more than 50 attractions from history to adrenaline seeking, the town brings a new meaning to outdoor adventure. With no shortage of hotels to choose from and over 300 days of sunshine each year, it’s easy to see why Colorado Springs has made the list.
As if anyone ever needs a reminder that California is full of places to visit is worth a visit, Forbes chooses to include a lesser-known destination for this list. The chilled-out Encinitas has been referred to as a more laid-back alternative to nearby San Diego, and those who visit can enjoy a bit of quiet amongst the tides. When in town, a must-do is a visit to San Elijo State Beach, where you can watch the surfers and enjoy some street tacos. All while enjoying the California sunshine.
Hocking Hills, Ohio
Known as a scenic wonderland in Southeastern Ohio, Hocking Hills is a perfect town to visit for outdoor sports and nature lovers alike. Officially part of the Allegheny Plateau, this area showcases some stunning landscapes, with deep gorges, out-of-this-world rock formations, and dizzyingly high cliffs. The State Park at Hocking Hills features some pretty stunning cabins if you are looking to stay among the natural beauty, and this area attracts visitors from all over the United States.
Kanab is quite an interesting place. Known as “Little Hollywood” because of the 100+ western movies that have been filmed there, this town offers much more than just a photo backdrop. Kanab’s location makes it one of the best places to base yourself when planning to visit some of the most famous natural wonders in the U.S. Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon, and Grand Staircase are all easily accessible from Kanab. Not to mention the small town offers a ghost town, many restaurants, and family-friendly activities.
Stretching from the famous Seven Mile Bridge all the way to Long Key, Marathon is a city set amongst 13 islands. Affectionately referred to as the heart of the Florida Keys, Marathon is known to have some best boating and fishing in the entire country. Fishing aside, visitors can lounge on any of Marathon’s numerous beaches or simply take in the views with a cocktail and some fried conch.
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia
Deep in the corner of Southeast Georgia, you can find the mysterious and vast Okefenokee Swamp Park. This refuge has been placed on UNESCO’s tentative list and hopes to make this list sometime in the next couple of years. Okefenokee spreads to nearly 700 square miles and takes the title of America’s largest swamp. The swamp houses many species and has a large population of alligators. Visitors can learn about the swamp and its creatures with interactive exhibits and displays, train tours, and animal shows.
It’s no surprise Page makes this list, as it’s also recently been named one of the top 10 travel destinations in the U.S.. Page makes the ideal base for those looking to explore the American Southwest, and everywhere you look, you can see red rock formations, canyons, and Native American heritage. The breathtaking Antelope Canyon is a must-do while visiting Page, with other iconic spots being Horseshoe Bend and Grand Staircase National Monument.
Riverhead, New York
Riverhead is having a moment, and even the locals are not quite sure why. This small town’s popularity has always been known among those reaching the end of the Long Island Expressway, only to be greeted with Riverhead’s farms, vineyards, and beaches. As visitors finally reach the highway’s end, they suddenly find themselves in the greenery of the East End of Long Island. Favorites in this area are the quiet communities of Mattituck, Southold, and Orient.
St. Albans, West Virginia
The little gem located in the Mountain State has made the list for a few reasons, one being its charming main street lined with local eateries for everyone’s tastes. Those who are looking to get into nature will find St. Albans surrounding area relaxing and historic, with deep ties to the native tribes who once called this region home.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com