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24 Trip Ideas for 2024

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What better way to celebrate the new year than by getting a start on planning this year’s vacations with one of these 24 fantastic trip ideas for 2024. You know they say “variety is the spice of life”, so I’ve compiled a wide variety of trip ideas for 2024. This list has got your pick from cute small towns, underrated big cities, excellent road trips, next-level national parks and more! No matter where you want to go in 2024, this list of trip ideas will give you inspiration to start packing!

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Small Town Trip Ideas for 2024

I’m a big fan of small towns. They often offer us a chance to escape the hustle of daily life, and simply relax. Some of my favorite destinations across America are small towns, ones which are amazing for those who know how to find them. Luckily for you, I’ve picked a few to include on this list of trip ideas for 2024.

Brevard, North Carolina

Brevard is hands down one of my favorite small towns in America. It has a wonderfully quaint downtown, featuring an old-school toy store and a fantastic craft brewery. There is no need to visit chain restaurants because you’ve got a huge selection of local favorites. It’s even got it’s own wonderfully quirky White Squirrel festival, held every May. I love it so much, I literally make a visit every year. When you make your visit, check out The Sunset Motel for an excellent stay.

The White Squirrel Festival in Brevard is a great way to spend Memorial Day Weekend!

However, it’s not just the town itself that should draw you in. Brevard is smack in the middle of the Land of Waterfalls. There are countless fantastic waterfalls and hikes all around the area. Looking Glass Falls is an excellent choice, that’s easy to reach. The town is just off the Blue Ridge Parkway as well, meaning you can enjoy nature, small town America, and a gorgeous drive all in one trip. Hands down, if you only choose one of these 24 trip ideas for 2024, make it this one.

Salem, Massachusetts

The famous Witch City is a well known and fairly major draw already. So why am I including it on this list? Because I still don’t think it gets enough appreciation, that’s why! Salem plays its role as one of the spookier cities in America, but it has a lot more to offer visitors. It’s great to visit Salem in October, but everyone is already doing that which means you’ll just be another tourist clogging the streets.

You’ll certainly Bewitched by Salem!

Instead, I’d tell you to visit Salem in the “off-season”. It’s a town chock full of amazing history. The maritime heritage of the town runs deep, and if you’re willing to explore it give you an entirely new perspective on the city. It also features one of the best museums in the northeast, the Peabody Essex Museum. Late spring and summer offer great weather, less crowds, and a chance to experience small-town New England at it’s finest. Check out the Salem Inn to grab a room at a historic B&B close to everything!

Newport, Oregon

My fondness for Newport, comes from one of my earliest travel mistakes. Despite that misfortune, the town truly left an impact on us. I’ve been wanting to make a trip back ever since, so it’s natural to include on a list of the best trip ideas for 2024. The Oregon Coast is a beautiful and underrated part of the country. Newport sits right in the heart of it all, as a great base of exploration for the area.

You’ll meet plenty of friends on your stay in Newport!

The town of Newport fits snugly on Yaquina Bay. The bayfront part of town is quite the draw. You’ll find maritime history, delicious seafood, great hotels, and even a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Plus as an added bonus, the sea lions love to hang out by the piers. Of course, no oceanfront town is complete without a great beach or lighthouse. Newport happens to have quite a few beaches, including the unique Cobble Beach where the crashing waves sound like a rainstick over the rocks. It’s a fantastic little town and I highly suggest you plan a visit sooner rather than later.

Bentonville, Arkansas

The town of Bentonville is the real wild-card of this collection. It’s a simple, quaint town located in Northwest Arkansas. It also happens to be the home of the largest retailer in the world, Walmart. While you’ll quite quickly notice this upon visiting, it’s all rather unassuming as well. If you love Walmart, then this can be a pilgrimage of sorts. The homey, Bentonville Square stands in the heart of downtown. You can visit the Walmart Museum at the site of the first Walton’s Five and Dime, and even grab a scoop or two of ice cream at an unbeatable price.

It’s not always snowing at Home Office, but it sure is pretty when it does

However, this small town has a lot more to offer than just Walmart. For outdoors enthusiasts, there are miles of hiking trails throughout and around the city. It also is a world-class mountain biking destination with hundreds of miles of biking trails as well. Culture isn’t lost here either. Crystal Bridges Museum, holds one of the premier collections of American art in the country. The museum is a major attraction in its own right and a boon for a town like Bentonville. Book a stay at The Victoria B&B for a high-class stay with easy access to everything. I’ve had the pleasure to visit quite a few times and I definitely recommend marking Bentonville as one of your trip ideas for 2024.

Davis and Thomas, West Virginia

Of all the stops on our road trip around West Virginia in 2023, Davis and Thomas are the two towns I wish we had more time in. Each of them are right next door to the amazing Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia. Blackwater Falls is one of the most popular parks in West Virginia thanks to its natural beauty and accessibility. These two towns are honestly a wonderful base for exploring the entire part of this state. There is easy access to not only Blackwater, but Canaan Valley, Dolly Sods, and the Alleghany Trail as well.

Blackwater Falls is one of the best waterfalls in all of West Virginia!

Davis sits right at the entrance to the state park. The tiny town is situated right along the Blackwater River. When you stop into town, you’ll find a run of shops, restaurants, and bars along the main strip. I highly advise popping into Stumptown Ales. This craft brewery makes many of their beers in-house, which is a great way to support a small business.

Thomas is just around the bend (literally) from Davis. It features a unique “tiered” downtown, thanks to the hills and river that it is built on. We loved walking the shops and art galleries along the waterfront. When in Thomas, you definitely need to stop into Creature and Bloom for fantastic art, as well as TipTop for some delicious coffee. Depending on when you’re in town, you could even catch a show at the Purple Fiddle.

Underrated Big Cities to Visit in 2024

New York. Chicago. Los Angeles. Miami. These cities get all the love and a ton of visitors each year. That’s not without good reason since they are all major cultural hubs with countless things to do and places to see. Yet, I also think it’s important to highlight some of those big cities which don’t get enough appreciation. I’ve had a chance to visit a few of these and they certainly should be on your list of trip ideas to take in 2024.

Nashville, Tennessee

Now I know what you’re probably thinking, Nashville gets a lot of love already. While this is true, it’s still a highly underrated vacation destination. No matter when you choose to visit, be it a romantic valentine’s day trip, or a family summer vacation, Nashville has got something for you. Music lovers can eat their hearts out. Music museums like Country Music Hall of Fame or National Museum of African-American Music are top-tier national museums. The Grand Ole Opry is on literally EVERYONES bucket list. Not to mention a night spent on the best Broadway in America (NYC’s just doesn’t match up to me).

Go behind the scenes at the Opry, you won’t be disappointed!

Even if you’re not coming to Nashville for the music, then you’ve got a ton of other options. Art, history, and culture can be found all across the city. Amazing breweries and distilleries, like Corsair Distillery, are a wonderful way to get to know the city. No matter where you go in the city, great food isn’t far away either. I highly advise trying out classic spots like Hattie B’s, Biscuit Love, Sky Blue Cafe, or Five Daughter’s Bakery. While Brevard above is my #1 recommendation for trip ideas in 2024, Nashville is definitely #2 on that list.

Baltimore, Maryland

Ahhh, Baltimore, the oft-forgotten sister city to our nation’s capital. However, this makes it a prime candidate to be added to your trip ideas for 2024. That’s because it offers up tons of history and cultural options all on its own. Baltimore is great to visit practically any time of year, with our Baltimore trip in October featuring great weather for walking around outdoors. This is great, because Baltimore features a number of walkable neighborhoods full of fantastic restaurants and nightlife!

The city is a wonderful destination for families. The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is one of the oldest zoos in America. Featuring over 2,000 animals, including penguins, flamingos, and polar bears, the zoo is undergoing a renaissance. Family’s can also have fun exploring the inner harbor. The National Aquarium is the big attraction here. The Maryland Science Center is another great way to spend time with the family. History seekers can check out the old ships in the harbor, Fort McHenry just a couple miles away, or the B&O Railroad Museum! Baltimore is a great destination, and you definitely shouldn’t forget it!

Salt Lake City, Utah

This could be one of the more surprising inclusions on my list of trip ideas for 2024, but don’t sleep on it. Salt Lake City is a top notch vacation idea, especially if you love the great outdoors. There is a huge variety of activities to help you reconnect with nature around Salt Lake City. Hiking is abundant around the city, especially in the rugged Wasatch Range. These same mountains (and SLC’s snowy winters) also make for great skiing and snowboarding as well. You can even catch a few of Utah’s best sunrises with a visit to Salt Lake.

Mount Timpanagos is a fantastic sunrise hike near Salt Lake City

If you’re interested in staying closer to downtown, you’ll also find plenty to do. Salt Lake City has a number of wonderful museums, including the Natural History Museum of Utah. There is also a thriving downtown area, with great nightlife and restaurants. You can explore the expansive history of the original settlers to Utah during the day, and then light it up during the night. It really might be a fantastic and unexpected surprise.

San Diego, California

In sunny Southern California, Los Angeles gets all the love. However, it’s southern neighbor is my last big city trip idea for 2024. San Diego has all the sun and sand that LA does, without nearly as much traffic! That’s not to say the city doesn’t get busy. It does play host to ComicCon every year after all, so unless you’re dying to be with tens of thousands of other tourists, plan your trip for another week.

The true heart of any visit to the city is Balboa Park. It is one of the oldest protected lands in the country, first being set aside for public use in 1835 by the Mexican government. The modern park is home to 17 different museums, the San Diego Zoo, and numerous gardens, trails, and recreation areas. The citizens of San Diego take great pride in the park, making it one of the premier urban parks in America.

Balboa Park has got it all, so don’t forget to visit!

The city also features a lively nightlife scene. Across the Downtown, Marina, and Gaslamp districts, you’ll find hundreds of delicious spots for food, great breweries and bars, and even the San Diego Padres! Our time strolling the exhuberant streets of the Gaslamp District was an absolute blast. Keep your eyes on the lookout and you may even find a secret speakeasy or two! San Diego is an amazing city, and I hope to get a chance to return in 2024.

Fantastic Road Trip Ideas for 2024

What better way to explore the United States in 2024 than a road trip. If you’ve read anything I’ve written, you’ll know I’m a major road trip buff. Over the thousands of miles I’ve driven, I know how to find a good road trip. For next year, I highly recommend you check at least one of these road trips off your bucket list!

Great River Road

This was a trip I did in 2022, which means you certainly should have it on your radar for 2024. The Great River Road spans over 3,000 miles and ten states. It cuts right through the heart of the country along one of it’s life blood rivers, the Mighty Mississippi. This road trip was over a year in the planning stages for us, but it also makes for an awesome spur of the moment trip. This is because it’s easy to drive portions of it, meaning you can knock off a few states here and there to complete the whole thing over the course of the year.

Image featuring all ten state signs on the Great River Road
If you do the trip, make sure you get all the signs!

If you’re like us, however, and want to do it all at once then I salute you! We took fourteen days to make the ten-state journey. Depending on the time of year, you can start at either end. Fall is a great time to make the trip heading south (follow the leaves), while late Spring is fantastic for heading north. You’ll be able to visit a ton of excellent cities on the way. Give yourself plenty of time in places like New Orleans, Memphis, St. Louis, and Minneapolis! You really can’t go wrong with making a trip on the Great River Road this year!

Florida’s A1A

While not nearly as iconic as California’s Highway 1, Florida’s A1A is a beachy classic. This road trip down the Atlantic Coast will give you your fill of Florida, in all of its amazing forms. While A1A doesn’t run the entire length of the state, it is often combined with the nearby US 1. Together, you’ll be able to cruise along the coast from Georgia all the way to the Southern Most Point in Key West.

The Castillo de San Marcos is one of the oldest forts in America

The trip will take anywhere from five to ten days, depending on how long you’ll take in each location. You’ll get tastes of old Florida beach culture in towns like Fernandina Beach, Flagler Beach, and Cocoa Beach. Iconic American history is found in places like St. Augustine and Cape Canaveral. Florida’s iconic nightlife sits along A1A as well from Daytona Beach to Miami. Not to mention the most Florida city of them all, Key West. A trip down Florida’s Atlantic Coast is all about relaxation and good vibes. How better to spend 2024, right?

New York’s Hudson Valley

While you could take this next trip idea anytime in 2024, I highly advise planning it for the fall. Hudson Valley lights up in brilliant hues this time of year. The weather also becomes simply sublime as well. Yet perhaps the best part is how a road trip in the Hudson Valley lets you combine the big city lights of New York City, with the small towns of the valley. Take as many days as you want in the Big Apple, then pack up the car to head north.

trip ideas for 2023
Hudson Valley is beautiful in the fall, or really any time of year.

As you wind along the western side of the Hudson River on US 9W, it’s hard to believe you’re even in the same state. The big city falls away, and in it’s place is the countryside of New York. You’ll also find plenty of historic and quaint towns as well. One of these you surely need to stop in is Catskill. It serves as the gateway to the Catskill Mountains, and is one of the cutest towns on the trip. Towns like Albany and Saratoga Springs are full of history. When you reach Glen Falls, you can choose to continue north to the Adirondacks or return south for a few more days in NYC. Either way, a road trip through Hudson Valley offers a great way to spend a week or so in the fall this year.

US Route 20 Across America

If you’re not down with a North-South cross-country road trip, why not take an east-west one instead? There’s no point in skimping on the mileage either, so US 20 should be your pick! Running 3,365 miles from Boston to Newport (two birds, one stone?) it is the longest road in the United States. You can start your trip with a game at Fenway Park and finish with some sea lions a few thousand miles (and a couple weeks) later.

trip ideas for 2023
Old Faithful is a pretty fantastic stop on your Route 20 trip!

US Route 20 displays all the different sides of America. Major cities like Boston, Buffalo, Cleveland, and Chicago are highlights of the eastern part of the trip. This road trip also takes you to a number of national parks including Indiana Dunes, Yellowstone, and Craters of the Moon. The rugged, rural western stretches show a truly unique part of America. A part that is outside what most people see, yet is no less important. It is often beautiful, desolate country that offers a chance at solitude. Of all the road trips in America, US Route 20 lets you really experience America better than any other.

National Parks to See in 2024

Everyone loves a good national park. I’ve written about them quite a bit, helping you pick the best park for summer, fall, or winter. With such a wide array of experiences available, now is the best time to get out and visit a national park. My suggestions here are going to point you towards some of the lesser known or appreciated parks, making them perfect candidates to visit in 2024.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

This national park in Colorado is one that fails to get the attention it truly deserves. Encompassing one of the steepest and deepest canyons in America, it’s a park well worth a visit in 2024. Black Canyon of the Gunnison’s highlight is the Painted Wall. This geologic marvel is stunning to behold. When I visited back in 2020, I had the opportunity to photograph it at sunrise. Believe me, you won’t be disappointed by getting up early.

trip ideas for 2023
Sunrise at Painted Wall isn’t something to be missed

The canyon also features some amazing hiking. You can follow trails along either the popular and developed South Rim, or the remote North Rim. Each will provide spectacular views into the canyon and the surrounding landscape. For those seeking a back country adventure, there are ways to hike deep into the canyon as well. With the lower attendance numbers, you may very well be the only people hiking inside the canyon at any one time! I definitely recommend you spend at least a day here and maybe work it into a larger Colorado national park tour.

Pinnacles National Park

2024 will be the 11th anniversary of this national park, which is California’s ninth national park! This is a large part of why I’ve included it on this list of trip ideas in 2024. It’s not very often that you get a chance to visit a national park on it’s 11th birthday! Despite being one of the newest national parks, Pinnacles serves to protect unique and ancient geological features.

trip ideas for 2023
Pinnacles is a rugged national park well worth a visit this year!

Much of Pinnacles National Park is undeveloped wilderness. In fact, the only way to cross from one side of the park to the other is by hiking. The visitor center and other “amenities” are located on the eastern side of the park. One of the most interesting features of the park are the unique talus caves which can be navigated. These caves feature numerous species of bats, so keep that in mind on your visit! Pinnacles is one of the least visited parks in the country, so take advantage of the lower crowds when making your trip here in 2024.

Congaree National Park

I like to call Congaree, America’s forgotten national park. Though there are plenty others which are far more remote, or with way fewer visitors, Congaree simply fails to garner much attention. Which is honestly a shame, since it’s one of the best parks to see in the fall! The park protects critical land along the Congaree River in South Carolina. This puts it in the rare category of parks east of the Mississippi River and easy for practically everyone in the south to visit.

trip ideas for 2023
One of the best times to visit is in November as the colors come to Congaree

When you get there next year, there are two main ways to see the park. The first is by canoe or kayak. It’s easy to spend a day or two paddling the river. You can camp throughout the extensive backcountry of the park. Congaree also provides protection to hundreds of acres of old-growth forest. These forests give hikers miles and miles of trails suitable for all levels. Just like exploring on the water, much of the park is open to backcountry camping. Planning a few days away from it all might be just what you need in the new year!

Wind Cave National Park

Singed into existence by Teddy Roosevelt, Wind Cave is one of the oldest national parks in the country. As the icing on the proverbial cake, it’s also one of the best national parks to visit on your summer vacation.

trip ideas for 2023
Wind Cave is as much about what you’ll find above ground as below it

The national park was one of the first fully protected cave systems in the world. The unique boxwork formations inside the cave have drawn visitors from around the world. In fact, 95% of all known boxwork is found inside of Wind Cave. Visitors to Wind Cave will find miles of trails on the surface in addition to the stunning cave itself. With only 650,000 visitors in 2021, you’ll get a truly unique experience without it being an overcrowded one.

Voyageurs National Park

Voyageurs National Park was featured on my list of the best national parks to visit in winter. While the cold and snowy conditions are a wonderful way to see the park, it offers plenty of options across the other three seasons. It’s also a unique national park as well. While many national parks are on the water or feature it in a big way, Voyageurs takes that to another level.

See the aurora borealis as part of the best trip ideas in 2023
Voyageurs is one of the few national parks where you can regularly see the aurora borealis

This park is largely only accessible by boat or other watercraft. Practically everything you want to do in the park, you’ll need to get on the water first. What’s unique about this is that this is all inland and lake based, unlike more coastal parks (Biscayne, for example). One unique way to spend a few days in Voyageurs is on a house boat. It’s really one of the more underrated parks, so give it some of your attention in 2024!

Alternatives to Big Time Amusement Parks in 2024

You know the places that end up here. Disney World, Disneyland, Universal Studios, Busch Gardens, etc. They bring in families, cost you hundreds of dollars, and are packed with people. Instead of taking a trip there this year, consider getting out of your comfort zone and checking out some different but no less fun tourist attractions in 2024.

Hersheypark

Hersheypark clocks in as the ninth most visited theme park in America, but it still draws millions of fewer people each year than the big dogs. The park began simply as a way for the Hershey Chocolate Company’s employees to have a place to recreate. Yet, over time it has transformed into an attraction for the entire family. Particular fun comes from the candy theming found throughout the park, an obvious nod to the ownership of the park.

Like many parks in across the country, it operates on a seasonal schedule. Season typically runs from late April through late September. However, the park is also open during many holiday periods. If you don’t visit during one of the bumper seasons (before school lets out, or after its back in), then the holidays are a good time to go. It’s a great way to enjoy the park and a bit of holiday cheer all at the same time!

Carowinds

Carowinds is another all-star amusement park which doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. Despite a prime location just outside of Charlotte, it serves just over two million visitors each year. One of the more unique aspects of the park is the fact that it straddles the state line between North and South Carolina. One visit to Carowinds, let’s you check two states off your list in 2024!

The premier attraction at Carowinds in Fury 325. This massive steel roller coaster is the fourth tallest in the world, as well as the fifth fastest! It’s a tour de force, that even crosses the state line! Carowinds really does pack in the roller coasters, with 14 featured across the park. If those thrills aren’t enough for you, consider visiting during the Scarowinds festival. The park transforms into a spookier, scarier experience which is great for the Halloween season!

Holiday World

The wonderful little town of Santa Claus, Indiana is home to the equally wonderful Holiday World! It started out as Christmas Land back in the 1960s, but branched out to embrace other holidays in the 80s. In addition to the original Christmas Land, there are themed areas to Halloween, the Fourth of July, and Thanksgiving.

While the parks don’t feature a ton of roller coasters or other thrill rides, it does have one of the best roller coasters in the country. The Voyage was built with the introduction of the Thanksgiving land. This wooden roller coaster is top ten in a number of areas. The Voyage features the most air time, is the second longest wooden coaster, sixth in height, and seventh in speed. It’s also been selected as one of the top five wooden coasters in America since it’s inception, including the #1 ranking from 2007-2011. If one of the best coasters is definitely reason enough to toss Holiday World on your list of trip ideas for 2024.

Off-the-Wall Trip Ideas for 2024

What better way to round out a list like this than really going out there with a few suggestions. These trip ideas of 2024 are inspired by thinking more along the lines of “why not” rather than trying to create a rational plan for you to follow. Sometimes it’s best to simply throw caution to the wind and take a truly weird or unique adventure.

Scientific Adventure with Earthwatch

Earthwatch is a scientifically focused organization that gather volunteers to travel and assist with scientific expeditions. They recently celebrated their 50th anniversary, showing the longevity of their cause. Volunteers provide critical assistance during the expeditions. These adventures happen all across the world, conducting important research and giving regular people a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

There is a wide range of expeditions you can choose from, suited for a diverse array of abilities. Examples include an Amazon Riverboat Expedition to conserve wildlife, archaeological studies in Tuscany, or studying climate change at Acadia National Park. All of these expeditions are supporting by volunteers covering their expenses and giving needed help during the process. They are a fantastic travel charity, supporting worth while causes and a great way to see the world in 2024.

Paddle the Mississippi River

Though my suggestion of driving the Great River Road is definitely a quicker way to see the Mississippi River, it isn’t the most challenging. That option would be paddling the entire distance from headwaters to gulf. Those who choose to take the road less traveled here certainly are looking for an adventure in the new year. It’ll take you far more than the two weeks we spent driving the road, but it’s an entirely different way to experience this amazing river.

Getting beyond the simple physicality of such a trip, you really need to mentally prepare yourself. Even if you have a companion, you’ll be spending plenty of hours with a single focus. Most night will be spent at campgrounds along the river. In some cases, you’ll even need to navigate around the large barges that call the river home as well. However, if you can get through all of that, you’ll have accomplished one hell of a trip. If you’re up for the challenge, why not take a shot at it in the new year?

Watch a Baseball Game at Every MLB Stadium

11,300 miles of driving. 90 days of travel. 30 games at 30 stadiums. Countless bobbleheads. The most American of road trips could be watching a baseball game at every MLB stadium in a single year. The trip I charted out and placed on my trip ideas for 2024 is about as condensed of a road trip you can get. If you’ve got the energy, the time, and the money, this epic road trip might even land you in Cooperstown.

The trip begins at the home of the reigning National League champions, the Arizona Diamondbacks on 4/17. From there you’ll speed (not too much) across the country. The trip includes a triple headers in Southern California, a clash between Red Sox and Yankees at Fenway Park, eight different minor league stadiums, and a trip to the Major League Baseball All-Star Game!

One final note about this trip is that it doesn’t account for rain delays or cancellations. There are a number of games which are part of a final home stand, giving little wiggle room. It would be possible to condense some travel days to free up time for a makeup game. Alternatively, you could just stretch the trip across the whole year giving ample time to see games no matter the weather!

Making the Most of Travel This Year

Travel is expected to continue its huge surge coming into the new year. The giant number of options can often be overwhelming. The biggest piece of advice I give myself, is to aim for something new every year. I love to revisit my favorite places, but growth of our experiences comes from seeing and experiencing new things. You might take a road trip every year, but new destinations create new journeys. My hope is that this giant list of 24 travel ideas for 2024 features something that has piqued your interest. If you travel with an open heart and an open mind, you’re sure to have an amazing year.

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