Powered by Blogger.

120 Top North American Destinations: Where and When to Go in 2017



This post originally appeared on Hipmunk's Tailwind blog on January 11, 2017. It was written by Kelly Soderlund.

It’s a new year, and with it comes the endless possibilities for the adventures, experiences, and memories that travel brings. But with uncertainty abroad, many Americans may choose to stay closer to home this year. Yet domestic travel can be just as challenging to plan as excursions abroad. And while most travel data analyses concentrate on when to buy or where to go, just as crucial is when to go. Indeed, at Hipmunk we get asked all the time when the best time to travel to a particular destination is (read: the cheapest).

5 Things that Will Make You Feel More Prepared for Travel

5 Things that Will Make You Feel More Prepared for Travel | CosmosMariners.com

Travel forces us to get out of our comfort zones, and that unfamiliarity is one thing that travel lovers crave. Not everyone seeks out that uncomfortable aspect of travel, but it's a part of the experience whether you embrace it or not.

If you want to travel but also want to feel more confident in taking those steps toward planning a great trip, here's what you should do.

History Meets Luxury in LoDo: A Review of Hotel Teatro, Denver, Colorado

History Meets Luxury in LoDo: A Review of Hotel Teatro, Denver, Colorado | CosmosMariners.com

In order to facilitate this review, I was provided one night's complimentary stay. I purchased a second night at a media rate. 

For the final leg of our Western U.S. road trip, we cruised into Denver for a few days. After hiking in three states, spending nights in yurts and campgrounds, and finding more red rock dust in our suitcases that you can imagine, I was looking forward to the big city life for the 48 hours before we headed back to South Carolina.

When Traveling Is Unpredictable (and What You Can Do about It)

When Traveling Is Unpredictable (and What You Can Do about It) | CosmosMariners.com


This post is sponsored by Generali Global Assistance. All opinions are my own.

Vacation is supposed to be the time when we recharge our batteries. It's an escape from the regular ins and outs of life: the bills, the commute, the school run. It's a chance to explore the world around us and experience life in one of the many beautiful places around the globe. Traveling is fun. 

Until it's not. 

No one wants something to disrupt their carefully planned and budgeted trips, but sometimes things happen. 

I've been traveling since I was a little kid, and the majority of our trips have been wonderful. They've gone exactly as planned, and generally exceeded expectations. But there have been a few that have gone south for a variety of reasons, all of which were completely unpredictable.

5 Things I Wish I'd Known before Studying Abroad in London

5 Things I Wish I'd Known before Studying Abroad in London | CosmosMariners.com

After my first trip to London in 2003, all I could think about was how quickly I could return. When I stumbled upon a study abroad fair at my university during my freshman year, I discovered a way to combine my love of school with my love of London and started a long journey towards studying abroad.

The summer I spent abroad in London made a big impact on me as a college student, and the experience I had in England exceeded every expectation I had going into it. If I could go back in time, here are five things I'd tell myself before I packed my suitcase and headed across the Atlantic.

Books to Read Before a Visit to Paris {Guest Post by Misadventures with Andi}

Books to Read Before a Visit to Paris {Guest Post by Misadventures with Andi} | CosmosMariners.com


Books + travel = for a bibliophile with wanderlust like me, it's the perfect combination! Today, I'm super excited to hand my blog over to one of my favorite bloggers, Andi from Misadventures with Andi. She's going to be sharing a fantastic post about experiencing Paris through the written word.

I know you're in good hands, as I've been reading her blog practically since I discovered the online world of travel bloggers. Her experiences (including a year-long road trip around the U.S. last year) have been incredibly inspiring for my own travels. I hope you'll find a few new tomes to add to your must-read list!

Monthly Goals: May 2017

Monthly Goals: May 2017 | CosmosMariners.com

April was one of the hardest months I've had in recent memory. As I mentioned in my April goals post, I was already struggling with the parenthood-freelance writing-blogging balance, and I didn't see how I was going to add anything else to the mix.

Well, of course, my husband and I decided that adding something to the mix was exactly what we had to do. After Easter, my father-in-law came to stay with us for two weeks to help us with our biggest house project to date: removing stumps and grading as much of our 7.5 acre property as we could in 14 days.

Bread and Butter Pudding: A Southern Twist on a Classic Dessert {Inspired by the Francis Marion Hotel, Charleston, South Carolina}

Bread and Butter Pudding: A Southern Twist on a Classic Dessert {Inspired by the Francis Marion Hotel, Charleston, South Carolina} | CosmosMariners.com

I started my Tasty Travels series a while back with the best of intentions. But, as with most best laid plans, life got in the way, and my travel-themed recipe series faded into the background.

After a long hiatus, I'm excited to see if I can focus on the series again; and, to kick it off for the second time, I'm going to share one of the best dishes I've tasted in a long time: an interpreted version of classic bread and butter pudding.

Katie Miranda: Changing the World Conversation, One Piece of Jewelry at a Time

Katie Miranda: Changing the World Conversation, One Piece of Jewelry at a Time | CosmosMariners.com

One of the things that I love most about traveling is how it forces me to stare stereotypes straight in the eye. It’s one thing to hear about a region, country, or culture on the news, and it’s something completely different to be on the ground in that location meeting the locals, eating the food, smelling the air. I cannot think of one trip that I’ve taken when I’ve not come away from it with a deeper, richer appreciation of the people and the culture that I had the opportunity to embrace.

Instagram Inspiration Friday: Adventure

Instagram Inspiration Friday: Adventure | CosmosMariners.com

In this installment of Instagram Inspiration Friday, I'm taking a look at how other bloggers define "adventure." For some of us, it's going to a new city or trying a new food, while others see adventure as a challenging hike or a rafting tour.

No matter what your version of adventure looks like, I hope you'll find some ideas for new ways to get yourself out of your comfort zone in this week's round up!

10 Things to Know before You Start to Plan Your Arizona + Utah Road Trip

10 Things to Know before You Start to Plan Your Arizona + Utah Road Trip | CosmosMariners.com

The countdown is on for our upcoming road trip to the Western U.S., and I am so busy putting the final details on our itinerary. The majority of our trip will take place in Arizona and Utah, which have so many incredible locations that it's been hard to narrow down exactly where we need to go!

 Our original plan had been to fly in and out of Denver, Colorado, and do a quick excursion into northern Utah as part of that loop. However, when we realized that we were leaving out so many incredible sights in the neighboring states, we had to rethink that plan. We expanded our original route into the multi-state road trip that we'll actually be taking.

How to Make History Fun for Your Kids in St. Augustine, Florida

How to Make History Fun for Your Kids in St. Augustine, Florida | CosmosMariners.com

There are few places that I love to visit in Florida more than St. Augustine. Not only does the city have an incredibly deep history that spans multiple centuries, but it is also so easy to navigate on foot, it has an amazing food sceneand it's right on the Matanzas Bay for gorgeous pictures of the water.

To visit St. Augustine without doing your best to understand its more than 500 years of history is to do the city a disservice. From the earliest Spanish explorers to those who fought for freedom during the Civil Rights Movement, St. Augustine has been an integral part of American history.

The Easiest Way to Turn Your Travel Pictures into Photo Books

The Easiest Way to Turn Your Travel Pictures into Photo Books | CosmosMariners.com

This post was sponsored by Blurb. I was provided a complimentary photo book of my choice and compensation in exchange for my honest review.

Fun fact: I was the yearbook nerd in middle school (my claim to fame was that I was the editor of my yearbook in both 8th grade and 12th grade). When you consider that I spent most of my lunches during my senior year pouring over layouts, it's no wonder that I still love travel photography and editing and creating photo books.

Yet, with all of the craziness of day-to-day life, those photos seem to stay backed up on my hard drive. My older child is going to be 4 in just a few short weeks, and I've only made photo books that cover up to her 2nd birthday. I'm 2 years behind at this point.

Monthly Goals: April 2017

Monthly Goals: April 2017 | CosmosMariners.com


March was intense around here.

I had the best month ever, traffic wise, on my blog. Egads. Sometimes, I feel as if I'm the conductor of a train that may or may not be getting ready to jump off the rails, and I'm not completely sure I'm prepared to handle what's coming. Yet, seeing my blog goals actually happen after 2.5 years of going at this thing strong is incredibly rewarding, and I am so excited to see where this blog takes my family and I (literally and figuratively) in the rest of 2017.

Instagram Inspiration Friday: Spring Break

Instagram Inspiration Friday: Spring Break | CosmosMariners.com

I didn't always love Instagram. I opened my account about 2 years ago after hearing it was the new social media channel, but didn't too much with it right away. I didn't want to waste time on yet another social media account, especially one that didn't seem as if it would drive much traffic to my blog.

Yet, here we are. Instagram has weaseled itself into my heart, and slowly moved itself into my second most beloved social media channel (just behind my forever love, Pinterest), and I'm starting a brand new series devoted solely to the wonders that I find on my Insta-feed. (Is that a phrase? If not, I'm making it one starting, oh, right about now.)

11 Things You Need to Know for an Easier Disney Trip with Very Young Kids

11 Things You Need to Know for an Easier Disney Trip with Very Young Kids | CosmosMariners.com

For Gibson's first trip, I decided to head down to Walt Disney World for a long weekend. I'd pinpointed WDW for a few reasons:

1) We've been there more times that I can count, so I was comfortable taking both a 3 month old and my 3.5 year old potentially by myself,

2) It's about as kid-friendly as it comes, so no one would give me death glares if both the infant and the preschooler had simultaneous meltdowns, and

3) It's just far enough away from home to feel like a vacation, but no so far that I'd have to take both of them on a plane (I'm building to that milestone).

8 Historic Sites in Dublin Every History Buff Should Visit

8 Historic Sites in Dublin Every History Buff Should Visit | CosmosMariners.com

Any trip to Ireland must include some time in Dublin, the country's capital. Dublin is a thriving city, one that is easily walkable yet big enough to keep you busy for several days. There are many ways to approach Dublin, but my favorite is (of course) through the history--and, thankfully, history buffs will find plenty to see and do in Dublin once they've sampled that first pint of Guinness and gotten their first glimpse of the River Liffey.

Here are my favorite historic spots in Dublin, so brush up on your Irish history (this book is hilariously effective--and it's illustrated, so it ticks all of the major must-read boxes), strap on your walking shoes, and dive into this incredible city.

Simple Concept, Big Impact: Making Travel Easier with the Demi Hugger (+ Giveaway!)

Simple Concept, Big Impact: Making Travel Easier with the Demi Hugger (+ Giveaway!) | CosmosMariners.com

I think it should be a rule that, when you have kids, you grow at least one more arm for every kid you bring into the family.

Yes, you'd probably look ridiculous with those octopus-like appendages, but let's be honest: as a parent, you already have barf in your hair and a mysterious stain on your pants, you can't remember where you put your keys (again), and there's likely a small human clinging to some part of you. So, ridiculous basically becomes a relative term.

Until the human race figures out that whole additional arms thing, parents are left to struggle on their own terms, navigating small humans who love to pretend that they are hard of hearing. While I adore traveling with my little Cosmos Mariners, it can be stressful to juggle the holding of small hands, the pushing of suitcases, and the organizing of carry-ons.

A First Timer's Guide to London: Where to Visit, Eat, Sleep, and Shop

A First Timer's Guide to London: Where to Visit, Eat, Sleep, and Shop | CosmosMariners.com

Of all of the cities that I've visited, London remains my absolute favorite. Why? It's a combination of the deeply layered history, the vibrant and distinct neighborhoods, and the dozens of iconic sites. I've had the chance to visit five times over the last 13 years, and I find something new to discover--and love--about the city every time I go.

London was the first city I visited on our first European trip. It was my home away from home during my study abroad program in college. It was where I realized the depth of my British literature obsession...which would ultimately lead me to get my graduate degree in English.

Yes, the weather can be moody (to put it nicely) and you'll never be fully dressed without an umbrella in your bag, but if you can look past that, London can be one of the most phenomenal trips of your life.

In this article, I'm going to share what you need to know for your first trip to London. It's by no means a comprehensive list of things to see or do in the city, as that would be nearly impossible on just one trip (or even 10!). What I've offered below should give you an overlook into this fascinating place and, hopefully, whet your appetite to come back and explore even more deeply.

Monthly Goals: March 2017

Monthly Goals: March 2017 | CosmosMariners.com

So, this year, my word is balance. Two months into 2017, and I am reminded everyday as to why I chose it. From the moment I get up in the morning to the moment I go to sleep, there is a constant battle between what my infant needs, what my preschooler needs, blog stuff that needs to be written/scheduled, freelance writing stuff that needs to be done, housework that cannot be put off another day, and actually spending time with my husband.

Most of the time, I feel as if I'm trying to do everything but actually accomplishing nothing.

Breakfast with Pooh + Friends: The Crystal Palace at Walt Disney World Dining Review

Breakfast with Pooh + Friends: The Crystal Palace at Walt Disney World Dining Review | CosmosMariners.com

Now that I have a preschooler, we're really big into Pooh Bear and his friends (they're right up there with Elsa and Anna in my daughter's eyes), so I wanted to make sure that we did a meet and greet with them while she was still in her full-on Pooh Bear phase.

If you've ever been to Disneyland or Walt Disney World, you know that character meet and greets are serious business. Many characters only do meets at certain places in certain parks at particular times, so, if you're hoping to get some pictures with your favorite characters, it's worth it to do some research beforehand. If you, like my daughter, love Pooh Bear, you have two options to meet him: wait in (a very long) line with dozens and dozens of other squirmy preschoolers over in the Fantasyland section of the Magic Kingdom, or you can book a meal at the Crystal Palace.

9 Ways to Improve Your Travel Photography Skills

9 Ways to Improve Your Travel Photography Skills | CosmosMariners.com

I've always loved taking pictures and organizing them (I even went through a major scrapbooking phase in college), but it wasn't until I bought my first DSLR that I really caught the photography bug. Nowadays, I rarely buy souvenirs from the places that we visit since my photos make for a much better way to remember trips by.

If you're interested in travel photography, know that there's definitely a learning curve: you can't just snap away with your camera mindlessly and hope that you'll get an album full of stunning photos when you get home. Travel photography requires the right equipment, techniques, and skills. It might seem overwhelming to learn at first, but with some practice, you can have your photos looking as breathtaking as your subjects are in real life.

The Best of Ireland in 1.5 Weeks: A Road Trip Itinerary

The Best of Ireland in 1.5 Weeks: A Road Trip Itinerary | CosmosMariners.com

When I'm planning an itinerary for a new trip, I try to include a driving portion whenever possible. Not only is a road trip often more time-effective than relying on transportation, it can also be cost-effective since you have more flexibility in where you're staying.

For our trip to Ireland last year, I knew we had to see Dublin--but I also wanted to explore the rest of the country as well. We didn't have a terribly long time to stay because of my husband's limited vacation days, but we managed to put together what I think is an incredible road trip that takes in the best of what Ireland has to offer!

Monthly Blog Goals: February 2017

Monthly Blog Goals: February 2017 | CosmosMariners.com

This past month was the first full month that I was completely on my own with both kids. For the second half of November and all of December, I had at least one other adult around me 24 hours a day to help with all of the feeding, cooking, cleaning, and laundry that goes along with having tiny humans in the house. Because of that, I not only managed to keep blogging, but make some serious headway in scheduling, writing, and planning content.

Historic Travelers Who Will Inspire Your Next Trip: 100 to 1500 AD

Historic Travelers Who Will Inspire Your Next Trip: 100 to 1500 AD | CosmosMariners.com

I'm about to tell you something that will rock your world, so get ready:

Travel existed before 1981.

::Gasp::

I know. It's hard to believe that people would be interested in leaving their hometowns prior to Instagram, Facebook, and Polaroid cameras, but it happened. And, given that travel blogs, Lonely Planet, the Travel Channel, and Rick Steves didn't exist a few decades ago, it's a wonder that people found themselves anywhere.

But travel they did despite the lack of infrastructure and amenities to which modern day travelers now have access. In many cases, travelers back in the day just packed their suitcases and sailed off into the horizon, hopefully to be seen again. They didn't have hotel reservations (or even a bed in many cases), a guided tour, or guaranteed meals. They either had to be very, very brave or ridiculously stupid (or maybe a little of both.)

4 Gorgeous Eastern European Cities to Put on Your Bucket List

4 Gorgeous Eastern European Cities to Put on Your Bucket List | CosmosMariners.com

The next time you're wishing for a European vacation, look past the obvious choices like Paris, London, and Rome. Instead, consider heading to Eastern Europe and spending time there. Not only will you have fewer crowds to fight (since this part of the European continent is a bit of a hidden gem for travelers), your budget will stretch further as there are bargains to be had throughout Eastern Europe.

Eastern Europe is a term used to describe a number of countries that were formally part of the Soviet Union, in other words behind the Iron Curtain. There is much heated dispute about which countries actually constitute Eastern Europe but some of the better known names are Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania and Moldova. There are many more, and together they offer a huge variety of wonderful destinations.

Here are 4 up-and-coming spots in Eastern Europe that deserve your attention!

31 Incredible Museums from around the World

31 Incredible Museums from around the World | CosmosMariners.com

As someone who believes that learning is a lifelong process, I'm a huge fan of discovering new museums on my travels. Gone are the days of stuffy, off-putting museums where the main focus was keeping guests as far away as possible from the items of display. Instead, today's museums are vibrant, lively, and interactive: there's a focus on immersion and what the role of a museum is in today's society. Often, contemporary museums ask as many questions about the visitors as they do about the exhibits (thank you, postmodernism!)

I asked 31 fellow travel bloggers to share their favorite museums and received a wide array of submissions focusing on museums from across the globe. As you go through these, you'll notice what makes these museums so memorable: many are quirky, many delve into difficult subject matter (both in depth and in topic), and many are focused on topics that never would've been seen in museums 50 years ago (hello, comic books and neon lights). 

Add a few of these to your next trip and see how a fantastic museum can help you shape new opinions about the world around you.

A New Kind of Guidebook: A Geek in China {Review}

A New Kind of Guidebook: A Geek in China {Review} | CosmosMariners.com

Part travelogue, part guidebook, and part pictorial, A Geek in China: Discovering the Land of Alibaba, Bullet Trains, and Dimsum is Matthew B. Christensen's love letter to this vast Asian nation.

While I love travel guides of all kinds (what's not to love about the winning combo of books + travel?!), there are some that really capture my imagination: ones with stunning pictures, personal anecdotes, and actionable advice for delving into the culture. As soon as I pulled A Geek in China out of the box, I was stunned--the full color cover is eye-catching and covered in pictures. It's completely different than the covers of Fodor's, Rick Steves, and Lonely Planet, and it pops out of my collection of travel guides with its vibrant colors.

Visiting the Historic Sites of Trier, Germany

Visiting the Historic Sites of Trier, Germany | CosmosMariners.com

The last stop we made in Germany before crossing the border into Luxembourg was in Trier, a mid-sized town of just over 100,000. Located on the Moselle River, Trier is a typical German town, much like dozens of others you can find in the Moselle wine region. But one thing sets Trier apart: the town claims that it has been continually inhabited since 1300 BC (give or take a few years).

Monthly Blog Goals: January 2017

Monthly Blog Goals: January 2017 | CosmosMariners.com

I hope you had a wonderful holiday season and a fantastic start to 2017. We stuck around Charleston for Christmas, and then went to see my in-laws in the upper part of South Carolina for New Year's Eve. The best part of our NYE celebration was watching the Clemson Tigers solidly beat Ohio State: my favorite football team is now headed to the National Championship for the second year in a row. (Let's hope the Clemson-Alabama matchup ends differently than it did last year!)