Travel's Best for 2014

Luxury hostels, Cuba, local brew pubs and the Jersey Shore – they’re all reasons to pack your bags in 2014. See what hot destinations and travel trends are our favorites for 2014.

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Epcot at Walt Disney World, Orlando

Epcot at Walt Disney World, Orlando

Theme parks aren’t just for kids, especially ones like Epcot at Walt Disney World. "While it has fun and thrilling attractions for the whole family, including Test Track, Mission: SPACE, Soarin', Spaceship Earth, etc., the real attractions at Epcot are the World Showcase's 11 countries, where you can sample food and drinks from Germany, Mexico, Norway, Canada, Japan, Italy, France...," says Alvey. In the fall, Epcot's World Showcase transforms into the International Food & Wine Festival, an event featuring food and drink samples from nearly 30 different countries. 960 1280

Gene Duncan, Disney  

Aquaventure, Atlantis Paradise Island, Bahamas

Aquaventure, Atlantis Paradise Island, Bahamas

While the region's beautiful beaches might beckon you to the Bahamas, your kids will be in paradise at the largest water park in the Caribbean, Aquaventure at Atlantis. A free perk for overnight guests of the Atlantis resort, the water park has it all: a gentle lazy river, exciting rapid rides and multiple water slides that take guests on huge vertical drops, around 5-story corkscrews and along twisting water coasters. "Kids will love jungle-themed slides and fountains, as well as Splasher's, a Mayan-themed water playground that’s perfect for the smallest guests," adds Gifford. 960 1280

Courtesy of Kerzner International  

Schlitterbahn, Kansas City

Schlitterbahn, Kansas City

Get ready for the world’s tallest waterslide, set to open at Schlitterbahn in summer 2014. According to Insane Coaster Wars producer Steve VanDis, the excitement is building for this one. "This 17-story waterslide will be the tallest waterslide in the world, with just the construction of this massive coaster dominating the skyline," he says. Those not so keen on stomach-hurling rides may be more comfortable floating on the lazy river or relaxing in a private beach cabana (which you can reserve ahead of time) while watching the kids play on 13 mini-slides. Looking to save money? Pack a picnic (you can bring your own food and drinks into the park) and grab a table near Henry’s Hideaway so you can have a breather while the kids play nearby, suggests VanDis. 960 1280

Schlitterbahn Kansas City  

Hersheypark, Hershey, PA

Hersheypark, Hershey, PA

Chocolate lovers of all ages will be in heaven at Hershey Park. Family travel expert and founder of Kidventurous.com, Erin Gifford says, "You can listen to singing cows and learn how chocolate is made from bean to bar at Chocolate World before riding multiple roller coasters and floating along a lazy river just next door at Hersheypark." Before you go, download the free mobile app to plan your day and navigate the park. While you might be here for the free chocolate samples, your kids won’t want to miss 3 new rides just for them, including the Cocoa Cruiser, a pint-sized roller coaster. 960 1280

The Hershey Company  

Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

Calling all Dolly Parton and country music fans! Nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, Dollywood combines a family-fun atmosphere with down-home country music and fare, including a new lemonade stand featuring over 300 flavors. Kreischer says Dollywood is his favorite family-friendly park, and a perfect spot for a family reunion. Dollywood hosts 5 annual festivals in 2014, including the popular Barbeque & Bluegrass festival that pairs the best barbecue in the South with the biggest names in bluegrass (May 24 -June 8). Fair warning, don’t expect to see Dolly here in person, but you can visit Dolly’s Smoky Mountain Home, an attraction modeled after the country singer’s childhood home. 960 1280

Dollywood  

Noah’s Ark, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

Noah’s Ark, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin

When it comes to water parks, Kreischer’s pick is Noah's Ark, the largest water park in the US located in Wisconsin Dells, WI, and for one simple reason: Scorpion's Tail! "This is a ride you have to ride multiple times just to figure out what is happening to your body. You start in a coffin-like capsule, then the floor drops out from underneath you, and you freefall for roughly 40 to 50 feet before you're flipped upside down and around in the high-speed, G pulling loop. Before you know it you're squirted out for the masses with a look of shock on your face as they giggle and see you try to figure out what just happened," says Kreischer, who rode this ride over 20 times the first day it opened. Don’t miss trying to hang 10 on the park's newest attraction, Surfing Safari. Or for gentler rides, there’s Bumper Boats and several lazy rivers to relax on in family-size tubes. 960 1280

Noah’s Ark  

Busch Gardens, Virginia

Busch Gardens, Virginia

Don’t have the time or money to take the family to Europe? Head to Busch Gardens for a taste of the "Old World" culture in Williamsburg, VA, which features attractions like Escape from Pompeii, Loch Ness Monster and the 3-D ride, Europe in the Air. There’s more here than just the coasters according to VanDis. "Whether you’re here for the annual Busch Gardens Food & Wine Festival or just enjoying the food stands and eateries, the food is always amazing. I love the BBQ spot and I try to stop by every time I’m there," he says. Steve’s all-time favorite coaster? Griffon. At over 200 feet high, it’s still the fastest dive coaster in the world, reaching speeds over 70 mph. Just plan on eating after riding this one. 960 1280

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment  

Tokyo DisneySea, Japan

Tokyo DisneySea, Japan

"There is nothing like Tokyo DisneySea anywhere else on the planet. The moment you step foot inside the park you are transported to another world unlike any other Disney park you've ever seen, with some of the best themed environments ever created," says Robb Alvey, theme park expert, Insane Coaster Wars. Attractions like Journey to the Center of the Earth (a thrilling voyage through the park's centerpiece volcano); a Japanese version of Tower of Terror; 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea; a section dedicated to The Little Mermaid, and the Raging Spirits roller coaster make up just a handful of the unique Disney rides and attractions found at this park. 960 1280

stevenocchipinti, flickr  

Cedar Point, Ohio

Cedar Point, Ohio

Our resident daredevil Bert Kreischer, host of Trip Flip, has visited amusement parks all around the world, but Cedar Point, located in Sandusky, OH, remains his number one pick. Cedar Point boasts to be the “Roller Coaster Capital of the World “ with 72 rides, including 17 roller coasters and more than 10 miles of roller coaster track. "Hands-down, no questions asked, the number 1 thrill park in the world. They have more intense rides per square inch than anywhere I've ever been in my entire life," says Kreischer. For an unforgettable "race to the sky" in 17 seconds, ride the accelerator roller coaster, Top Thrill Dragster. Or test your vocal chords on the newest ride opening this summer, Pipe Scream, a thrill ride that careens over 302 feet of track, flying 43 feet above the midway at 43 mph. 960 1280

Cedar Point  

Blizzard Beach at Walt Disney World, Orlando

Blizzard Beach at Walt Disney World, Orlando

Walt Disney World has more to offer than just its 4 main parks – there is also a water park you can’t miss during your stay, too. "Themed as a 'ski resort that is melting' this water park stands out as my favorite water park in the world," says Alvey. There is something for everyone here. For thrill seekers, there is Summit Plummet, once the world's tallest water slide, and for families there are many different attractions including Teamboat Springs, Alvey’s favorite "family raft ride." 960 1280

Gene Duncan, Disney  

Hudson Valley, New York

Hudson Valley, New York

“What’s on my fall drive checklist? Sinuous roads, sweeping vistas, elevation changes, barns and more barns, pleasant farm animals, homes you wish you could live in, a farmers market and and a cool diner for lunch. My favorite fall drive this year has all of the above and then some. As an agricultural area, Duchess County in New York’s Hudson Valley has some of the most beautiful land you’ll ever set your eyes on.” – Samantha Brown, Travel Host 960 1280

Dutchess County Tourism  

Hudson Valley Road Trip

Hudson Valley Road Trip

“Use Route 82 and Route 44 in Salt Point, NY, as your bookends and all the roads in between as your playground.” – Samantha Brown, Travel Host

See Interactive Map
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Deep Creek Lake, Maryland

Deep Creek Lake, Maryland

“Head to Deep Creek Lake in Maryland to enjoy gorgeous views by car along 2 fall foliage heritage tours. Motor along Route 219 up to the Deep Creek Lake overlook in McHenry for a look at the lake, ski slopes and breathtaking autumn foliage before heading back to the visitors center as part of a 90-minute driving loop.”  -- <i>Erin Gifford, Family Travel Expert, Kidventurous.com</i> 960 1280

Garrett County Chamber of Commerce  

Deep Creek Lake Road Trip

Deep Creek Lake Road Trip

“For a longer drive try Historic National Road, which starts near Deep Creek Lake and winds through 6 states. Foliage peaks in early- to mid-October. Slow down for parades, pumpkin chucking and ice cream sundae-eating contests at the annual Autumn Glory Festival (Oct. 9-13), a real family favorite.” -- Erin Gifford, Family Travel Expert, Kidventurous.com

See Interactive Map
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Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

“An easy drive from Washington, DC, Harpers Ferry in West Virginia has fall foliage that’s worth the drive the third to fourth week in October. When we take the kids, I like the Jefferson Rock hike, which is less than 1 mile and has a vista overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains.” -- <i>Erin Gifford, Family Travel Expert, Kidventurous.com</i> 960 1280

Jeffrey D. Walters / Moment / Getty Images  

Harpers Ferry Road Trip

Harpers Ferry Road Trip

“Another good spot for leaf peeping is Bolivar Heights, a Civil War battlefield across from the park entrance. You’ll find easy, flat trails and great views.” -- <i>Erin Gifford, Family Travel Expert, Kidventurous.com</i><br/><br/><a href="https://roadtrippers.com/trips/521e22ce9d0782c36b0000f3 " target="_blank"><b>See Interactive Map</b></a> 960 1280

  

Route 112, New Hampshire

Route 112, New Hampshire

“This grand dame of foliage routes -- the ‘Kanc’ (Kancamagus Highway) -- is always worth a drive, but I suggest taking Route 112 west past the quaint little town of Woodstock, NH. Continue on Route 112 to Kinsman Notch at Beaver Pond -- a great spot for beginners and pros alike to photograph fall foliage.” -- <i> Jeff “Foliage” Folger, Fall Foliage Sage and Photographer</i>  960 1280

Denis Jr. Tangney / E+ / Getty Images  

Route 112 Road Trip

Route 112 Road Trip

“The best part of this area outside of the White Mountains is all the little side roads to explore. I found Coffin Pond off Route 116 -- don’t get going too fast or you will miss it. On a windless day it can have incredible reflections of the low hills surrounding the pond.” -- Jeff “Foliage” Folger, Fall Foliage Sage and Photographer

See Interactive Map
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Route 7, Vermont

Route 7, Vermont

“In southern Vermont, Route 7 runs north/south through the Green Mountains. During a stretch just north of Bennington is a valley between 2 ridgelines covered in trees, many of them maples and birch. Around Oct. 12-15 is a great time to take a drive up Route 7 to see peak colors.” -- Jeff “Foliage” Folger, Fall Foliage Sage and Photographer 960 1280

Jeff Folger  

Route 7 Road Trip

Route 7 Road Trip

“You also have a great little college town in Manchester to explore and shop in and the home of Robert Todd Lincoln for history buffs. Then the road names are very interesting. If you get a good map book out, you will find places like Mad Tom Notch -- doesn’t that scream to be explored?” -- Jeff “Foliage” Folger, Fall Foliage Sage and Photographer

See Interactive Map
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Frank Lloyd Wright’s Wisconsin

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Wisconsin

"Wisconsin is a magical land in the North, where the beer flows like wine and there are rivers of cheese. Not really, but pretty close to it. The Badger State is also the homeland of American architectural icon Frank Lloyd Wright. Fall is the perfect time of year to visit his organic designs, which are particularly stunning when set amidst the changing fall foliage.” -- James Fisher, Founder and CEO of RoadTrippers.com 960 1280

Taliesin Preservation, Inc.  

Wisconsin Road Trip

Wisconsin Road Trip

“Frank Lloyd Wright’s homes and buildings were designed to work in harmony with their environment. Driving through southern Wisconsin, some highlights include Taliesin, Wright’s summer home, Wingspread, the ‘epitome of organic architecture,’ and the Seth Peterson Cottage, which you can rent as a vacation home." -- James Fisher, Founder and CEO of RoadTrippers.com

See Interactive Map
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Twain’s Great River Road, Mississippi to Hannibal, MO

Twain’s Great River Road, Mississippi to Hannibal, MO

"As a boy in England, I was obsessed with The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Loquacious and satirical, Mark Twain really knows how to woo a man. Driving down the Mississippi to Hannibal, MO, it isn’t too hard to find the inspiration behind Twain’s iconic coming-of-age novel. Traveling along Twain’s Great River Road during autumn provides incredible leaf-peeping opportunities at every bend.” -- James Fisher, Founder and CEO of RoadTrippers.com 960 1280

Courtesy of the Missouri Division of Tourism  

Twain’s Great River Road Trip

Twain’s Great River Road Trip

“This road trip finishes up in Hannibal, where you can visit Twain’s boyhood home and a slew of other Twain-inspired attractions." -- James Fisher, Founder and CEO of RoadTrippers.com

See Interactive Map
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Ricketts Glen State Park, Northeast Pennsylvania

Ricketts Glen State Park, Northeast Pennsylvania

“Living in the Northeast we are blessed with beautiful fall foliage color due to an abundance of sugar maple and birch trees that turn vibrant orange, red and yellow each year. One of my favorite local drives for a day of leaf peeping is Ricketts Glen State Park off Route 29 and Route 487 in northeast Pennsylvania. The combination of 22 waterfalls, mountains and gorgeous 200-year-old trees make for absolutely stunning photos.” -- Bill Kirk, CEO of Weather Trends International and Meteorologist 960 1280

OGphoto  

Ricketts Glen State Park Road Trip

Ricketts Glen State Park Road Trip

“While the drive here is spectacular, you’ll have to brave a 3-mile hike to really experience the stunning fall color. The waterfalls make it well worth getting out of the car, and the photos and memories of a great day trip will last a lifetime.” -- Bill Kirk, CEO of Weather Trends International and Meteorologist

See Interactive Map
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Skyline Drive, Virginia

Skyline Drive, Virginia

“I fell in love with the Blue Ridge Mountains when I went to college in the “Valley” in Harrisonburg, VA. Weekend trips to escape campus often included hiking or driving through the 105-mile-long Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park. There’s no better time to visit this National Scenic Byway than fall, when the fall foliage peaks the second to third week in October. Now that I live in Washington, DC, it’s only a few hours away -- still perfect for a weekend fall getaway.” -- Kathleen Rellihan, Interactive Producer, Travel Channel 960 1280

Getty Images  

Skyline Drive Road Trip

Skyline Drive Road Trip

“One of the best parts of Skyline Drive is from Front Royal to Rt. 211 -- it’s around 32 miles, with plenty of overlooks for snapping photos. These days, I like to combine my leaf peeping with wine tasting in Virginia’s Wine Country, too. There’s no shortage of wineries to stop at in the area, but some of my favorites include Fox Meadow Vineyards and Gray Ghost Vineyards.” -- Kathleen Rellihan, Interactive Producer, Travel Channel

See Interactive Map
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Lake Wallenpaupack, Northeast Pennsylvania

Lake Wallenpaupack, Northeast Pennsylvania

“Another great spot even closer to the Big Apple is Route 507 around Lake Wallenpaupack in northeast Pennsylvania. The good news: Here at Weather Trends we are projecting ideal fall color this year in the Northeast due to very favorable summer and fall weather conditions unlike last year when record October cold and Superstorm Sandy made for a very short and somewhat dull season.” -- Bill Kirk, CEO of Weather Trends International and Meteorologist 960 1280

Lake Wallenpaupack/ The Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau, PoconoMountains.com  

Lake Wallenpaupack Road Trip

Lake Wallenpaupack Road Trip

“Stop in Hawley for some lunch and be sure to take the hour scenic boat ride around the lake for more stunning photos.” -- Bill Kirk, CEO of Weather Trends International and Meteorologist

See Interactive Map
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Fan Favorite: Smoky Mountains

Fan Favorite: Smoky Mountains

We asked you what we missed on our list and for you to tell us your favorite fall foliage road trip. It was a landslide – The Great Smoky Mountains won out! Hop in your car and take in the scenery as you drive around Gatlinburg, a picturesque mountain town nestled in the scenic Smokies. Now is the perfect time -- fall colors peak here in mid-October. 960 1280

Zhuzhu / iStock / Getty Images  

Best Site for Travel Packages: HolidayPirates.com

Best Site for Travel Packages: HolidayPirates.com

"For great package deals, check out the website HolidayPirates.com. They find incredible deals for packages, flights and more departing to and from Europe. I've found some incredible, hard-to-find offers on that website, like $500-roundtrip flights to Europe or $50 flights from Europe to Turkey." -- Matthew Kepnes, Nomadic Matt 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Best Times for Off-Peak Travel: Jan. 15 to Feb. 28; Oct. 15 to May 15

Best Times for Off-Peak Travel: Jan. 15 to Feb. 28; Oct. 15 to May 15

"US Airways offers economy round-trip tickets to Europe from North America for just 35,000 miles from Jan. 15 to Feb. 28. If you have their co-branded credit card, that price drops to 30,000 miles roundtrip. American Airlines also offers off-peak discounted award tickets to Europe from Oct. 15 to May 15 for 40,000 miles, down from the usual 60,000. If you have their co-branded credit card, you can even get 10% of those redeemed miles back, up to an annual cap." -- Summer Hull, Mommy Points 960 1280

Thinkstock   

Best Hotel Rewards Program: Starwood Preferred Guest

Best Hotel Rewards Program: Starwood Preferred Guest

"Starwood Preferred Guest is a great hotel program, with a vast portfolio of hotels throughout the world. Redemptions start at just 2,000 points and members have the option to transfer points to dozens of airlines at a 1-to-1 ratio, with a 5,000 point bonus on every 20,000 points transferred." -- Rick Ingersoll, Frugal Travel Guy 960 1280

Getty Images  

Best Phone App for International Travel: Viber

Best Phone App for International Travel: Viber

"Calling, texting and emailing while abroad can rack up thousands of dollars in fees. However, there are great apps like Viber that you can use for free with an internet connection. Viber users can send free text messages, photo messages, video messages and more with other users, and it’s compatible with iPhone, Android, and other major mobile and desktop devices." -- Brian Kelly, The Points Guy 960 1280

Getty Images  

Best-Value Trip: Eastern Europe

Best-Value Trip: Eastern Europe

"For a great-value trip, head to Eastern Europe (Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine) for very cheap destinations, great food, friendly people and few tourists. It's the medieval Europe you want without the crowds in Prague or Tallinn." -- Matthew Kepnes, Nomadic Matt 960 1280

Thinkstock  

Best Car Rental Option: Costco Travel

Best Car Rental Option: Costco Travel

"If you have a Costco membership, you can get good deals from Costco Travel such as no additional driver fees with certain rental companies. If booking abroad, AutoEurope.com gives good rates in Europe. I used it to book a wagon for a trip to Paris which saved me about 40% off booking directly with the rental company." -- Arthur Hsu, Mileage Runner 960 1280

iStock  

Best Frequent Flyer Program: United MileagePlus

Best Frequent Flyer Program: United MileagePlus

"United MileagePlus is a great program, as it offers access to an extensive route network and award inventory. In short, they make it easy to redeem your miles. United miles are also easy to earn, with the Chase Sapphire Preferred card offering instant 1-to-1 transfer of points to United." -- Rick Ingersoll, Frugal Travel Guy 960 1280

Getty Images   

Best Site for Fare Alerts: Yapta

Best Site for Fare Alerts: Yapta

"If you don’t want to constantly check and recheck websites for the best fares, then sign up for Yapta’s fare alerts. They will automatically keep you updated on the fares you are interested in. All you have to do is set the date(s), city pairs and the price point, and they will alert you via email." -- John E. DiScala, Johnny Jet 960 1280

Getty Images  

Best Site for Blind Travel Bids: BiddingForTravel.com

Best Site for Blind Travel Bids: BiddingForTravel.com

"When I shop around for hotels and car rentals, I don't think there is any better place than Priceline. But keep in mind when you use their Name Your Own Price feature, you can't cancel. Before I make a blind bid, I always log on to BiddingForTravel.com to see what other people's luck was with their bids. It shows how much people paid for which dates and will give you a pretty good idea of which hotel you will end up with." -- John E. DiScala, Johnny Jet 960 1280

Getty Images   

Best Credit Card for Travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred

Best Credit Card for Travel: Chase Sapphire Preferred

"The Chase Sapphire Preferred card offers generous sign-up bonuses and flexible points that can be transferred to both airline and hotel partners. The Sapphire Preferred makes it easy to amass points quickly, with 2x points on travel and dining. The original signup bonuses can be worth over $500 in travel after you meet the required minimum spend, within the first 3 months typically." -- Rick Ingersoll, Frugal Travel Guy 960 1280

Thinkstock  

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