Your USA bucket list: 12 months, 12 destinations and 12 reasons to travel

·7-min read
 (Unsplash)
(Unsplash)

It’s official, the USA’s borders are open to vaccinated travellers, and it’s time to start thinking about those American bucket list adventures again.

From exploring the legendary music scene in Nashville to whale watching in Maine, here’s your month-by-month guide for a trip to remember.

January: Sundance and skiing, Utah

Utah (Unsplash)
Utah (Unsplash)

Step into wintery Utah, which is world-renowned for its powder and where you can enjoy no less than 15 ski resorts. Ultra-luxe Deer Valley - which was named Condé Nast Traveler’s top US ski resort in 2021 - is where it’s at. Stay at the St. Regis Hotel or elegant Stein Eriksen Lodge - the cosy spa is a must-visit where the roaring fires and indulgent treatments will soothe sore muscles.

 (Stein Eriksen Lodge)
(Stein Eriksen Lodge)

For movie boffins, much excitement surrounds the return of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Between January 20-30, Park City will transform into a hub for indie film fanatics, and the hordes of celebs who descend upon the Mountain-West city for the star-studded event.

February: The ‘Space Coast,’ Florida

Running along Florida’s Atlantic coastline, the Space Coast is the ultimate getaway for space fanatics, who like a slice of vitamin D on the side. The Kennedy Space Center will launch its rocket Orion in February 2022, setting off as the first of its kind to test deep space exploration. You can witness the historic launch from the visitor complex seven miles away.

For a more down to earth experience, the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is also housed on The Kennedy Space Center’s 140,000-acre campus. Take a guided tour for a glimpse of manatees and alligators. The Atlantic coastline is a prime spot for surfing and sunbathing, too, still basking in warm weather in February, with averages above 20 degrees.

March: Yellowstone’s 150th anniversary

Yellowstone (Unsplash)
Yellowstone (Unsplash)

Spanning three states and 2.2 million acres, Yellowstone was the first national park established worldwide and is arguably the most famous in the US. Next year, in March 2022, Yellowstone celebrates its 150th anniversary, making a good excuse to tick it off the bucket list.

Get (not too) up close with roaming wildlife, including grizzly bears, wolves and bison, while staring slack-jawed at breathtaking waterfalls and be sure to catch a glimpse of the stunning Old Faithful geyser herself (pictured) in Wyoming. An ideal destination for outdoorsy types.

April: Nashville, Tennessee

Nashville (Unsplash)
Nashville (Unsplash)

Tennessee’s Music City will have you a’groovin and a’shakin throughout Awesome April, a month-long celebration of country music, when the city hosts concerts and events every weekend throughout the month. Nashville also just so happens to be enjoying a wave of new luxury hotel openings, with the new Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences, a five-star, 40-story hotel and development in the heart of the city, just south of Music City’s Arts District, coming in April 2022. So you’ll be sure to enjoy some southern comfort while you’re at it.

May: New York, New York

New York (Unsplash)
New York (Unsplash)

The start of spring is one of the best times of year to visit the Big Apple, with guaranteed big, bright blue skies that are perfect for long strolls and sightseeing. Plus, there are plenty of exciting events happening, including the second (and larger) segment of The Met’s exhibition of American Design, In America: A Lexicon of Fashion, which will open in May 2022 with around 100 garments from recent Met Galas.

 (Ritz-Carlton in NoMad)
(Ritz-Carlton in NoMad)

A stay at the city’s brand spanking new the Ritz-Carlton in NoMad is a must if the budget allows, too - foodies will love the culinary delights being whipped up by Michelin-starred chef Jose Andres in the hotel’s Zaytinya restaurant. It will be taking reservation from May. Other new hotels worth your attention include Pendry Manhattan West, Arlo Midtown and the Six Senses New York - set in the perfect location between Manhattan’s Hudson River and The High Line - which is due to open in early 2022.

June: Gay Pride in Chicago

Chicago (Unsplash)
Chicago (Unsplash)

Kick off the summer months with a stint in Chicago, Illinois, the cultural capital of the Midwest, and home to world famous art institutions, skyscrapers and stunningly serene lakes. Chicago will celebrate Pride in June 2022, with a month of events in support of its LGBTQ+ community. There are sporting events, like the Proud to Run Half Marathon; food tastings; parties; family events, such as “Storytime with Drag Queens” at Navy Pier Pride; all culminating in the mega four-mile long Chicago Pride Parade.

July: 4th of July fireworks in San Diego

San Diego (Unsplash)
San Diego (Unsplash)

Party people should head to San Diego Beach for July 4 celebrations of everything red, white and blue. The ‘Big Bay Boom’ celebration takes place annually with a huge firework display (the largest on the West Coast), consisting of four barges launching hundreds of fireworks along North San Diego Bay. By day, the California weather provides perfect conditions to stroll along one of the city’s 60 beaches, take a ride on the classic ferris wheel at Belmont Park amusement park, or live it up at the iconic Del Conrado Hotel, where Some Like it Hot was filmed.

August: Whale-watching in Maine

The Atlantic shores of Maine offer classical New England beauty, but look a bit further out to sea and you can experience the maritime wonders of the whale. Humpbacks, pilots, minkes and finbacks can all be spotted feeding just 20 miles off the shore, and August is prime whale-watching season. Tours depart from the Maine coast, including Kennebunkport, Portland, Boothbay and Bar Harbour, all letting you step back into nature for a priceless encounter.

September: Blues festival in Mississippi

Mississippi (Unsplash)
Mississippi (Unsplash)

It’s time to head into the deep south for the 45th Mississippi Delta Blues & Heritage Festival in September, the second oldest blues festival in the world and celebration of one of the most integral elements of Southern culture. There are plenty of options to travel there in style too, with the 2022 Amtrak expansion now linking New Orleans, Louisiana to Mobile, Alabama, stopping off in four destinations along the way. For those in search of a more old-fashioned route, there’s also the opportunity to cruise down the Old Miss for ten days on an American Queen steamboat packed with plenty of Antebellum charm.

October: Pacific Northwest wine trail

Seattle (Unsplash)
Seattle (Unsplash)

Escape the crowds of Napa Valley and instead embark on the lesser-known Pacific Northwest wine trail. With October bringing in the season of harvest, take in the stunning scenery of Oregon and Washington with a premium glass of tipple. More than 900 wineries sit in the state of Washington alone, and over 500 in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, home to an award-winning Pinot Noir. As a large number of vineyards sit on the city outskirts, following the wine trail northwards can land you in Seattle along the way, so both urban and rural options are on offer for visitors.

November: Native culture and jaw-dropping landscapes in New Mexico

New Mexico (Unsplash)
New Mexico (Unsplash)

The state of New Mexico - made globally famous by Breaking Bad - is home to 23 native communities, which are largely undiscovered by international travellers. November is Native American Heritage Month —and a perfect opportunity to explore the state and its tribes, pueblos and rich ancestry. Experiences include taking a Native-guided tour of Acoma Pueblo Sky City, or visiting Taos Pueblo, one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities or enjoy Feast Days, when each of the state’s pueblos open up to the public in celebration of a patron Saint. Celebrations could offer an eye-opening alternative to traditional Thanksgiving celebrations in  November. The exceptional The Inn of the Five Graces in Sante Fe has bags of style with hidden gardens and each room is a stylish kaleidoscope of clashing colours.

December: Art Basel Miami

Miami (Unsplash)
Miami (Unsplash)

The party scene in Miami Beach is infamous but it’s also home to the American site of Art Basel, one of just three in the world. The prestigious art event welcomes visitors, dealers, curators and the throughout the month of December, showcasing contemporary visual pieces from over 268 galleries in 35 countries. 2022 will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the convention being held in Miami, so be sure to expect a new array of wild parties and events to mark the occasion, all while doing basking under the warm winter sun. The people-watching will be an activity of its own.

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